Floral Master: Atmore Florist owner receives accreditation

Published 10:08 pm Sunday, August 1, 2010

It’s not enough to know the difference between a rose and a daisy.

Successful florists will be able to make their visions of beautiful floral arrangements bloom before your eyes.

Joyce Petty, owner and operator of Atmore Florist on South Main Street, has been able to prove her ability to make arrangements bloom with beauty. Her abilities have earned her the distinction of earning the Florida State Master Designer accreditation.

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“I’ve been in the floral business for 18 years and this accreditation is the culmination of all those years of work,” Petty said. “The work I’ve done over the years may have been good, but it wasn’t always correct — at least in the eyes of my peers.”

Those peers were watching recently when Petty was required to make three arrangements, based on strict criteria, as the hands-on portion of testing that resulted in her accreditation.

“I had passed the written exam a couple of years ago, but had not passed the hands-on portion of the testing,” Petty said. “This was my third time with the hands-on portion and I was finally successful.”

Petty said the success this time around in the hands-on portion of the testing was an accomplishment that means more than receiving a piece of paper.

“It’s a joy to have that certificate to let everyone know that I am fully accredited in this business,” Petty said. “But, to know that my work is accepted and passes the critique of my peers is priceless. Even through I didn’t pass the hands-on portion the first or second time, I couldn’t give up. This was for me and my knowledge to let my customers know that they can rely on me for any floral need they might have.”

The accreditation testing for the Florida State Master Designer degree was held in West Palm Beach, Fla., last month. Petty said the testing procedures were strict, timed and stressful.

“Each person testing was given the same bucket of flowers and detailed instructions on the exact designs to be created,” Petty said. “If you get a crooked stemmed flower, you have to be able to figure out how to make that flower straight. There are some things that will vary because you’re working with natural materials. Each person had to create three designs with no advance preparation. It was very stressful and we only had three hours to complete the testing and make those arrangements perfect in the eyes of our peers.”

The third time was the charm for Petty. She said testing results weren’t released until the President’s Ball, which was the finale of the weekend.

“They waited until the President’s Ball to announce the names of those who passed the test,” Petty said. “They all knew how badly I wanted this and I think that they waited to call my name last just to tease me. All of that hard work, study and determination paid off in that moment.”

Petty said even through she has earned the distinction of becoming a master designer her work doesn’t stop here.

“In order to keep the title of Master Designer, you have to prove yourself year after year,” Petty said. “There is continuing education in the floral business just like there is in other industries and fields. I’ll have to continue to be involved in floral education, which will include conferences and conventions that will keep designers up to date on new styles, new design ideas, how to care for a variety of floral pieces and how to prolong the life of plants and flowers to benefit our customers. It’s an ongoing effort and one that I plan to pursue.”

Petty currently serves as second vice president for the Northwest Floral Association and is up for nomination of president of the group. She said Alabama does not offer such accreditation, which is why no other florist in the county can claim this type of distinction.

“There isn’t an accreditation program like this in Alabama,” Petty said. “That’s why I have this honor from Florida State. I wanted my customers to know that I work hard to keep up to date on designs, ideas and methods of creating floral arrangements that will be the best they can get from their florist.”

Atmore Florist owner Joyce Petty recently received her Florida State Master Designer accreditation. Above, she stands among a variety of flowers in her cooler.|Photo by Lisa Tindell