Kay's Flower School

Kay's FLower School logoKays D and J

Founded in 1983 by Catherine O’Rourke, Kay’s Florist is an institution of Rialto, Dublin. Christened after Catherine’s father’s pet name for her- KayKay, the name is now recognised within the flower industry as the most experienced and supportive commercial places to train as a florist.

When faced with the challenge of recruiting staff for the shop, Kay took matters into her own hands and decided that she would set up her own floristry school. In May 1987, Kay’s Flower School was born as a small scale floristry school designed to attract and train more people as career florists.

Originally named Kay’s School of Floristry, the school grew and expanded rapidly, quickly gaining a reputation as the premier destination for aspiring florists aiming to establish themselves within the industry.

“Kay instilled the values of giving value and support, don’t hold back and help lift others higher than you-because they will always be there to pull you up if you need it. These are the values the school was built on and are still the values today.”

Becoming Self Employed

Early on, Janette, Kay’s daughter, joined her mother in the school as one of the first teachers. After running two businesses simultaneously for some time, O’ Rourke decided to sell Kay’s Florist and focus on the training school. The mother- daughter duo wholeheartedly dedicated themselves to developing an international recognised school of floristry.

“Janette is one of the most dynamic floristry trainers in the world. She’s renowned for her authentic Irish charm and no-nonsense training approach. She answers any queries the students have before they’ve even thought of them!”

In 2008, Deirdre O’ Rourke, left her career and joined her mother and sister in the family business. Despite never having formal training in marketing, Deirdre discovered she had a natural flair for it and went on to rebrand and rename the school from Kay’s School of Floristry to Kay’s Flower School. She’s the tech behind the camera and is responsible for content creation, videos, editing photos. Deirdre is the organizational backbone and technical wizard supporting the team. With a background in adult education, she meticulously designs their innovative floristry programs, ensuring every student receives a comprehensive and engaging learning experience. 

“Deirdre has a passion for getting business exposed and is always on hand to support all the trainee florists with their own social media and basic marketing plans. She knows what works for us has to work for them.”

By creating social media strategies and plans for the business, Deirdre has grown its online presence to over 270,000 followers over their social media channels!

The youngest of the three, Sinead, joined the business in 2020, working remotely from her home in Inverness in Scotland. Sinead is the administrator of the team.

“We’ve all grown up in the flower shop and have learnt floristry, but we all bring different things to the table. Deirdre is a fabulous florist, but the business of flowers is more her passion and is evident to our graduates. She offers support and expertise to those within the floristry industry and graduates seek her out for mentorship within their own businesses.

It was the plants and clay that was the draw for Sinead. Leaving school Sinead qualified in horticulture and travelled the world working. As well as administrator, she’s our expert when students are seeking advice on foliage and plants”

Retiring in 2010, Kay left the school in the capable hands of her daughters to continue her legacy, but is never too far away when they needed extra help of support. Deirdre and Janette have revolutionised the floral education landscape, bringing their wealth of experience and passion to the forefront of the global market.

A Family Affair

Kay’s Flower School is a true family business. While Kay has now retired she is still on hand to share her expertise, while her three daughters Janette, Deirdre and Sinead now take care of each aspect of the business. John, husband and father is also involved with a lot of the heavy lifting within the school.

“Dad is backbone of the family and an essential part we just could not manage without. He drove trucks all his life but was always available for any heavy lifting and pulling- and in the flower industry, there can be a lot of lifting & pulling.  When it comes to washing buckets and conditioning flowers, he is so efficient and fast and, believe it or not, absolutely loves that part of the job. In recent times he has become an internet sensation doing his conditioning videos- if you need a laugh, go check him out!” Deirdre tells us.

As a family run business, they care deeply about their reputation as a leading educational institution and strive to give their students the best education they can. Janette, who has 35 years’ experience training up and coming florists and over 40 years’ working in the industry, still believes that there’s more to learn.

“You never know it all-and the day you think you do is the day to give it up”

From in-Person to Online

When the challenges of the COVID pandemic arose, Deirdre along with her sister Janette fearlessly transformed their traditional school into a virtual powerhouse, reaching enthusiasts globally. 2020 saw Kay’s Flower School move from 100% classroom based to 100% online training.

Throughout the process Janette was adamant that those attending the online training course would feel like they were on a classroom based, hands-on course but from the comfort of their own home from anywhere in the world.

“Janette went- and still does go above and beyond, to ensure every student attending gets all the support they need during their program.  Everyone can work at their own pace, around their own lifestyle, in their own time-zone, but still feel part of the classroom.”

Challenges & Opportunities

“Our biggest challenges to date has been moving the business from classroom based to an online platform and now that we are online, it’s convincing prospective students that our online platform is more interactive and a better learning environment than many in person training courses. People worry that online won’t work for them, they believe they can learn better in classroom settings, but we have seen the complete opposite- the structure of our online training means that learners get more 1-2-1 support that they would ever receive in an in person group setting. 

However, since moving to our online platform, we’ve received more global recognition. We’re now placed among some of the most elite and highly regarded floristry training schools in the world. In the past two years, we’ve been invited to train at one of the largest flower conferences in the United States.” Deirdre tells us.

Stand Out Moments

For Janette, her stand out moments are how proud the students are of what they have designed as part of their course.

“We are passionate about bringing the students on their floristry journey to fulfil their dream of working within the flower industry soseeing how much more confident the students become as a result of the training and how independent and motivated these new florists joining our industry are is the absolute gold moment for me” says Janette

The School has also won many accolades including Small Business of the Year in the 2019 Irish Women Awards and for the last 4 years retained the title of International Floral Educators of the Year with Intrigue Design, Maryland USA. In 2023, Janette was highly commended in the Network Dublin Business Women of the Year Awards.

LEO Supports

Kay’s Flower School was granted a Trading Online Voucher Grant in 2022. Janette and Deirdre have also joined us as panel speakers in our Women in Business Network, aimed to inspire and empower female entrepreneurs. They most recently took part in our Brigit 2024 event, “Dublin City Celebrating Women in Business.”

Plans for the Future

“We’re aiming to grow our global reputation to reach more florists worldwide. In June we will be releasing our 5th Professional Module based entirely on sustainable floristry and flower arranging for commercial florists, Eco friendly mechanics and techniques that can be used commercially but are still sustainable to running a business. Our industry is based on nature and the earth and as commercial florists we are doing our best to embrace sustainable practice in as many aspects of our business as possible.”

Advice for Budding Entrepreneurs

“The advice we give to all our florists going into business and indeed anyone going into business, is collaborate, don’t compete.  Keep learning new skills and new techniques. Take time to get out in nature and ground yourself often.”

Kays Kay and John Kays Christmas


Email: info@kaysflowerschool.com

Phone: (01) 4538649