The Fight for Net Neutrality- Latest

So… for those of you who don’t know yet, the Fight for Net Neutrality is on, and has been, for a little while. But the Cable Company Lobbyists, have just stepped up their game.

Here’s a brief summary:

Net Neutrality is the state of fair and objective distribution of content across the world wide web. Internet Service Providers (or ISPs) have, up until now, had a duty to treat everybody’s content equally, and provide the same service to content providers, regardless of affiliation or money. In straightforward language, this means- if YOU are a small, online retailer, you are entitled to the same service from your internet provider, as, say, a massive corporation like Comcast.  

But this may all be about to change, meaning smaller online retailers will risk not being able to provide a good enough service to your customers. This, of course, means you may lose business, and become less competitive.

The £1.5bn UK florist industry is becoming increasingly competitive, and moving online. This means that, if you run a florist in today’s UK market, the outcome of the war for Net Neutrality, may have a massive impact, on your business:

At retail level, the UK Floral industry represents £2.2bn according to the Flowers and Plants Association. In real terms, that means, each of us in the UK are spending on average, a mere £36 on flowers and plants per year. £8 of that is spent on plants.

Let’s see it from the customer’s perspective: if it takes me, the customer, 15 minutes to load the information on your site, because your server has decided to prioritize someone else’s content, I WILL get bored, and I WILL go and spend that sum of money somewhere else, or just go to Tesco and buy my flowers (though perhaps, not for much longer!).

In an increasingly rushed society, I don’t have time to wait endlessly, for your website to load on my screen. And it’s frustrating. Let’s face facts: In the grand scheme of things, to me, the customer, in that moment, flowers just aren’t that important.  

That is why the issue of Net Neutrality is so important to forward thinking business owners. To find out more about the fight for Net Neutrality, check out our earlier blog, Flowers of War.
So far, the main organisation responsible for leading the fight for Net Neutrality, have managed to cause quite a stir amongst congress. Fight For the Future.org ran a mass ‘Internet Slowdown’ earlier this month, to which many, many large online retailers signed up to.

But the fight continues. FFTF report that President Obama had said, as part of his campaign promises, that he would ‘take a back seat to no-one’ with regards to Net Neutrality, and promised to make sure that the commissioners he appointed to the FCC would ‘act accordingly’ to re-instate Net Neutrality. However, we all know how hard it is, to get politicians to make good on their promises.

The Internet Slowdown shook up the cable company lobbyists, who have now reportedly been ‘tag-teaming’ both Congress and the FCC in the hopes they will not have their god-like powers to control what content we have access to, removed.

Fight For the Future are now rallying more support, and asking individuals and business owners alike, no matter what country you are based in, to petition Obama to keep his promises.

We’ll keep you updated, as promised.

If you would like to know how you and your business can get involved in the fight for Net Neutrality, or simply find out more about this important issue, check out www.fightforthefuture.org


A Guide to Wedding Rituals and Customs

 From the old adage, ‘Something borrowed, something blue’, to the exchange of wedding rings, rituals and customs have always been a highly important part of weddings, globally. Each custom and ritual has its own history and symbolism.

Often, we employ these rituals and customs, without giving much thought, to why they exist, and how they benefit us.

So, this new weekly series of blogs from Lily Blossom Florists, will help you to understand the history and symbolism of each wedding ritual and custom; and help you to think about how you can, and why you should, personalize each one, to make your wedding day a unique, meaningful experience.

What is a Ritual?

A ritual is a performed series of actions including words, gestures and objects.

Weddings are a rite of passage, and as such, contain many rituals and customs, such as, walking down the aisle, getting married under an arch, having a flower girl and page boy walk before the bride and groom, the exchange of wedding rings, wearing a bridal gown, and the wedding breakfast.

But why do we perform these rituals?

The Psychological Benefit of Ritual

Isn’t it funny: we goal-set for our career, employ visualization techniques, and give preparation to events such as interviews. We define the terms of ‘success’, in board meetings, with measurable outcomes and targets, so that we know exactly what ‘success’ means to our team, and can recognise it when we attain it. But we don’t do this, when entering into a potentially life-long marriage!

The more we prepare for a goal, the more committed we are to the process, the more we are able to influence the outcome. Recent studies, show that when rituals are performed with specific outcomes in mind, the result is much more likely to be favourable.

So often, we enter into marriage with a wooly, unclear idea of what we hope and expect. However, there is a new (or some would argue-  resurgent ) school of thought, to suggest that the more explicit we are, with our partner, about what exactly we want and expect from a marriage, the more likely a successful marriage becomes.

How to Use Rituals on Your Wedding Day

Complementary with Lily Blossom's Forever Wedding Package
Your wedding is a day-long ritual. We would go further to suggest that, the more preparation, thought, detail, and emotional significance that you attach to the aesthetics of your wedding, the clearer you will be about what you are signing up to.

For instance: choosing your wedding colours because they are ‘nice’ or fashionable, is well and good. But choosing purple, because of its spiritual or cultural significance, or blue, because it represents water, and therefore, the importance of emotions, is by far a more informed, conscious choice.

Choosing white roses to represent the peace and tranquility that you desire for your new home, while you strive in the outside world for success, and making sure that you openly declare the significance of the white rose, is a more sensible strategy, than simply choosing white roses ‘because you like them’.

By personalizing and engaging in ritual, we are committing on both a conscious, and more importantly, subconscious level. It is the thought we give to the details of our wedding, and the symbolic significance that we consciously attribute to those aesthetic details, that are important.

Choosing colours for particular reasons, is like visualizing what you want for your married life. By selecting these things together, you are in fact, stating your subconscious (or conscious) wishes and desires, and actively visualising them.

By far the easiest, most beautiful, and most popular way to make visible your goals for married life, is with flowers. After all, they have their own language!

How to Choose a Wedding Florist

Your partner and yourself are getting married because you love each other, you want to achieve things together, and because together, you are stronger.

Before choosing a florist, or employing any other type of wedding planning service, think together, about what it is you want to achieve. Would you like children? Is romance important to you? Do you insist on honesty? Is emotional strength a non-negotiable? Do you both long for that quaint little house by the sea? Is it important to you both, that you bring your own culture and customs to your union and future family?

Once you have discussed this, and have a clearer idea (which by no means has to be finite), our guide can help you to understand which flowers, colours, wedding rituals and customs can best represent your shared goals.

With the average spend on wedding flowers reaching £450, it is of course vital you give thought to who you choose as your wedding florist. They must be, what we like to call, ‘The Three P’s’:

Personable, Passionate and Professional.

In order to be able to create floral decorations that represent your highly personal desires for your new life, your wedding florist will have to be trustworthy and non-judgmental; you have to feel that you can talk openly with them, that they will take your desires seriously, and translate your perhaps initially unclear desires, into more concrete, visually stunning floral creations.

If you don’t feel your florist is taking your desires seriously, walk away. Knowledgeable florists will be able to combine what is fashionable, with what is meaningful. Wedding floristry is very different from other types of floristry. Your wedding day will be one of the most meaningful days of your life, if the right attention to detail is applied.

Put Your Best Foot Forward!

Psychologists and social scientists are finding that rituals may well make for better emotional adjustment to a new situation. In other words, creating and engaging in highly personal rituals on your wedding day, allows you to demonstrate your commitment to your shared goals, and go into your marriage with your best foot forward.

Professional wedding florists, Lily Blossom, have an excellent wedding flowers deal, which will see you receiving a free bouquet of fresh flowers, every year, on your anniversary, for twelve years. The exclusive package was featured in popular men's online wedding magazine The Groom List, in 2013, and has been riotously popular since then! It makes a beautiful engagement gift. 

The package effectively means that, if you spend a minimum of £400 on your wedding flowers (including buttonholes, table centrepieces and the important bouquet), you will have got your wedding flowers, for free, with a whole host of other benefits. In this financially difficult time, it is an extremely good deal.  

Give Lily Blossom a call on 0208 979 5656, or email them, and ask about their ‘Forever Wedding’ package, for full details.

Subscribe for special offers, full access and updates to our ‘Guide to Wedding Rituals’, and more.


FLOWERS OF WAR: Net Neutrality and the Online Florist.

"Rage" Copyright- Banksy

Now we are a boutique florists, nestled away in a pretty part of London. We don’t really do politics. However, Net Neutrality is under serious threat. And this is very bad for business.

That’s why a little florists in East Molesey, is getting political, and why it matters to you

What is Net Neutrality?

Net Neutrality means that Internet Service Providers (or ISPs) are obliged to treat all content providers the same, providing them with the same service, regardless of their affiliations, or lack of, with the ISP.

Net Neutrality is under threat, because since an FCC ruling in 2002, ISPs can give preferential treatment to the content providers of their choosing. Comcast have already done it.

This situation was not the intention of the FCC, and is in fact, counter to their vision for the Internet. It was an unforeseen by-product of the ruling. The FCC are now trying to reverse their ruling.
Whether they will be successful is questionable: the big boys of telecommunications, such as Verizon and AT& T, got a teensy bit upset, about having their newfound freedoms and god-like powers taken away.

In short, the Battle for the Net, is ON.

What does it have to do with small business, such as online florists?

Getting rid of Net Neutrality means that ISPs will be able to provide preferential treatment, to those with the most cash. ISPs will be able to regulate your search results and direct your queries. But this regulation will be done in favour of whoever is paying the ISP to provide them with preferential treatment.

You will not be getting a clear picture, or an honest, neutral answer to your query then, but a sponsored result. Choice becomes an illusion. It’s a kind of ‘you can choose to do whatever we tell you to do’ situation.

“Small businesses are potentially at risk with the loss of net neutrality. Not having the deep pockets of the larger content providers, they may not be able to afford preferential treatment by the ISPs, potentially losing customers who have come to expect fast service.”

         Kassner, for techrepublic.com, January 14th 2014

In essence, saying goodbye to net neutrality may mean that businesses such as ours, may not be able to provide adequate service to you, the customer. Independent businesses may be unable to compete with larger, richer corporations and mutli-nationals. The service we will be able to provide for you, online, would be incredibly slow, and extremely frustrating. You will stop coming to us, in favour of a company with deep pockets, who can provide a faster online response. We will lose valued customers, and revenue. Many small businesses whose main income is from online sales, may be forced to close their doors. Eventually, this will mean less real choice for the consumer. It’s bad for our businesses. And bad for the consumer.

So, why won’t the FCC just reverse the decision?

Well, the Republicans don’t want them to, because it means less power for the big corporations, and less opportunity for them to monopolise and control what online content you have access to. They, and the corporations who favour the ruling, are putting massive pressure on the FCC not to reverse the ruling. If you were 2 years old, and someone gave you a huge packet of sweets, and then told you that you had to share them, what reaction would you have?

Image from www.parentdish.co.uk

Which businesses are fighting FOR the reversal to net neutrality?

This issue is so important to both business owners and the consumer, that 12 of the world’s largest internet sites have chosen to join the fight FOR Net Neutrality. These include Etsy, Kickstarter, Wordpress, Vimeo and Mozilla. And more will join.

Fight for the Future are an independent organisation leading the campaign for Net Neutrality. On September 10th, they organised a mass protest (of which the aforementioned companies took part).
These companies (and many others) pledged to run a ‘slowdown’ widget across their sites, designed to help you, the user, experience what the Internet will be like for you, if Net Neutrality is shattered forever by the big corporations and their Republican brothers.

Well the Internet Slowdown was a ‘resounding success’, according to FFTF, with more people taking action to defend net neutrality than ever before in history. More than 40,000 websites took part, and at its peak, the protest resulted in more than 1,000 calls to congress, per minute! To see the result of this monumental online protest, check out this infographic.

There are several ways that small business can take part in the campaign, that will not affect our profit margins. Click here for more information.

And just maybe we should be asking if, in the long term, we can afford not to participate?

We need YOU to help us.

As a business with a social conscience, whose main source of income is generated through online orders, and for whom, the majority of marketing, is done online, we of course, have to ask ourselves, if we should be joining the fight for net neutrality. So we thought we’d test the waters, and put it to a vote.

Do you think that we should take part?

Leave a ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ in the comments box below please. Your extended views are welcome. 

We will issue the results on this blog, and our Facebook page, at the end of the month, and keep you updated on the progress of the fight for Net Neutrality. Subscribe to this blog for updates.

If you would like to find out more about the protest, and get involved, check out www.fightforthefuture.org

Written by: Kyra Hall-Gelly


A Day in the Life of a Florist.

Available at Lily Blossom

The expert florists at Lily Blossom in East Molesey, describe why the humble craft of floristry, is far from the ‘daily grind’. 

“It’s like giving colour to your words. Flowers have their own language” says Nicholas, Lily Blossom Florist’s business owner, sifting delicately through the flower market’s morning offerings, “And the words they express can heal, let someone know you love them, celebrate successes, and wish good luck. They encapsulate the essence of so many life events; they can sometimes say what words can’t. And they last a while. So your message lasts too.”

A customer's 'Thank you' note 2014

Available at Lily Blossom
Nicholas explains, that when his florists get a phone call from a partner in the proverbial dog house, a blushing future bride, or a mourner who has lost a treasured loved one, the first role of a florist is to lend an empathetic ear. Choosing the right flowers for the current wedding trend, or season, is important, certainly. But understanding the customer’s situation is the most important thing:

Available at Lily Blossom
“If we understand what is happening for the customer, and a little about how they are feeling, we can help them to express with flowers, what they want to say, within their budget. Some customers say this is a little cathartic. Especially when it comes to funeral and sympathy flowers.”

Knowledge of floral symbolism is what can set the passionate florist apart from those who simply view the craft as a day job. So too does design, and knowledge of current trends. Both these skills are equally important when designing floral displays for weddings. After all, your wedding day, is one of the most emotional days of your life, and the most photographed, making flowers a key aesthetic in your wedding.

The quality of fresh blooms, is paramount, and will immediately, and visually, differentiate the leading florist from the less quality ones. As Nicholas says, and any woman will tell you, she can tell a petrol station bunch of carnations, from a hand-tied boutique florist’s bouquet.

But what of the practical side, of becoming a florist? What skills are needed, and how do you take the first steps to realizing such a career?

“The first skill a florist needs is creativity. You must be able to combine flowers to form beautiful displays, taking into account colour, texture, height, fragrance, and often symbolism. With weddings especially, we like to help our brides-to-be, to develop their own ideas, no matter how vague, to produce something unique and special for each bride.”

Buttonhole Available at Lily Blossom
Nicholas points out, that although his florists want to work with a bride-to-be, or any customer, to develop their ideas, it is just as important, to let the customer know, if they feel something will not work visually:

“Your wedding day is an extremely important day. The last thing we want to do, is have you walk away with a bouquet that will not help you and your venue to look at your very best, even if we have to (delicately) explain that a part of your idea will not work in practice.” 

Design by Lily Blossom for Ben & Joo's Wedding 2014

Design by Lily Blossom for Ben & Joo's Wedding 2014

In this way then, an expert florist will safely guide you towards the most beautiful floral products obtainable within your budget. To achieve this, people skills are a must, as is tact and diplomacy.

One the more practical side, a florist’s day begins very early. The staff at Lily Blossom Florist begin their day at 8am, when they check the inbox for orders that have come in from the Internet. They begin crafting these orders from Lily Blossom’s bounty of beautiful blooms, and the London florist usually opens at 9am.

“The benefits of the job far outweigh the cons” says Nicholas, “the morning starts are not too early. There’s bags of room for creativity, plenty of contact with lovely people. It can be done on a part-time basis quite easily, and you’re surrounded by the gorgeous scent and sizzling colours of beautiful flowers every day!”

Rose & Aspidistra Cross
Available at Lily Blossom

 Not the best career choice for Hay Fever sufferers then! But with the average florist earning between £16000 and £25000 a year, a chance for a good work-life balance, and opportunities to show off your artistic flair, Floristry is a valid career choice. A common way to start a career in floristry is to get a job in a florists, and learn on the job. However, if you would like to train first, you have a few choices: floristry apprenticeships are available, as are B Tech National Diplomas in floristry, throughout the UK. See the National Careers Service website for more details. 


Wedding Rituals and Customs 1: A History of the Flower Girl

Deciding to include a Flower Girl in your wedding procession is one of the most adorable wedding customs.

The little girl, pretty as a princess, who totters behind the bride with  a basket, or a bouquet of fresh flowers. “Awww!” croon your delighted guests, as she nearly trips over her little gown and flashes her cute dimples at onlookers.

Cute it is, definitely. But where on earth did this tradition come from???

Available at Lily Blossom Florists
The Flower Girl’s debut, took place in ancient Rome, when she first skipped her merry way down the aisle, part of the wedding procession, carrying a wreath to symbolise prosperity and fertility, in the hope of bestowing these virtues upon the lucky bride and groom. The wreath was made of wheat and herbs.

Later, the Flower Girl’s role evolved, to ward off evil, and she would carry garlic down the aisle.
However, contemporary flower girls are often dressed in a gown that will mirror the bride’s outfit, but in miniature. In fact, this is reminiscent of a very Elizabethan tradition, when children were dressed in the same style as their parents and carers, mirroring their outfits, as can be seen from the picture (right). 

While this is undoubtedly a charming tradition, it has a deeper underlying meaning: the Flower Girl is in fact, dressed as the bride, to symbolize the bride’s transition, from maiden/ little girl, into womanhood, through marriage. Our little flower girl represents childhood innocence.

Available from Lily Blossom Florists
To add this symbolic depth to your Flower Girl’s bouquet, and pay homage to her history, consider asking your wedding florist to combine your choice of wedding flowers with herbs, echoing the symbology of prosperity and fertility (if you should so desire), and perhaps, to sculpture a wreath out of your flowers. You can even ask them to include garlic in their design if you like, but we wouldn’t recommend it!

This wreath can be worn by your Flower Girl, around the head, or carried, like it was by her Ancient Roman predecessor.

These days, you can choose to have your flower girl carry a basket of fresh flowers, which she can scatter along the aisle as she goes; or you may decide you’d like her to hold a ‘kissing ball’, especially if this is the style of bouquet you have chosen for yourself.

We have known our brides to choose to have the Flower Girl wear a wreath of flowers in her hair, and blow bubbles before the bride, or indeed, fresh rose petals, instead of confetti.

Flower Girls traditionally walk down the aisle with their equally cute partners, the Page Boy, therefore completing the symbolism of transformation from innocent love, to the intimate adult connection that comes with marriage. They walk ahead of the Bride and Groom, to symbolize this passing of the passage of time. 
Available from Lily Blossom Florists.

Choosing to have a Flower Girl is a fantastic way to include a little one who may be too young to handle the responsibilities of being a bridesmaid. She will look gorgeous in photographs and add the kind of charm to your ceremony that only a little girl can.