Many hands touch each flower in a Mother’s Day bouquet on its way to mom

Faces of Chicago
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Each flower in a Mother’s Day bouquet passes through many hands on its way to bring a smile to a deserving mom. Here’s the stories of a few of the people who grow, collect and arrange those flowers in their own words.

Jo Dickstein, Co-Founder Flowers For Dreams

We started Flowers For Dreams in 2012 after working with it for three summers basically as street peddlers, trying to make some cash to get our way through college, we realized there wasn’t an ideal place to buy and deliver flowers affordably, accessibly and in an inspiring way.

Flowers have always been, it’s time tested from generation to generation, of just making people feel good. We’re doing hundreds of deliveries a day non-holiday, non-Valentine’s, and we go up to thousands of deliveries for Mother’s Day.

There’s a lot of human element. There is a lot of people that are involved from point A to point L, almost like 15 to 20 steps in this process. Those Mother’s Day purchasers usually wait until the week before to place their orders. So for us, they’re ordering a week or two before and it’s all being delivered on one day.

And then once we place that order, it then goes into our buying team, who is then sending out orders to different farms or markets all across the country.

Red Kennicott

Red Kennicott, CEO Kennicott Brothers Company

My great-great-grandfather and his two sons were the Kennicott Brothers, and they grew local flowers, peonies going back that far. And eventually they were selling so many flowers they opened the first wholesale house in the Midwest in downtown Chicago back in 1881.

I’ve kind of been in it all my life. My parents told me I was born in a cut flower wholesale cooler. It’s a very enjoyable profession. We’ve got a product that everybody loves and that makes working every day pretty pleasant.

Mother’s Day has always been the busiest week of the year for us, and understandably, everybody’s got a mother and you know, what better present for your mother than flowers.

Most roses these days are grown in South America, Ecuador and Columbia. When I started almost all flowers were local and there wasn’t the transportation. So over the years that’s changed, now every day we get flowers from every continent in the world except Antarctica.

Consumers can see any flower that they want on Pinterest and other different social media, that’s why we try to have everything available where they can buy one bunch at a time of anything they want.

Susanna Lohmar

Susanna Lohmar, The Roof Crop

We are farming green roofs in the city of Chicago under The Roof Crop. We use organic methods and grow a wide diversity of produce, flowers herbs and create all sorts of products.

For me the biggest challenge is bringing everything up that we need to up the ladders. A farmer isn’t really thought of when the roofs are built out, so we are climbing up ladders and carrying everything we need up the ladder.

I’m super passionate about the sustainability piece and reducing our carbon footprint. So we’re super excited to start to sell to more restaurants and florists including places like Flowers for Dreams.

Lots of their flowers have to use a lot of greenhouse gas emissions to get here so being able to grow something super fresh, high quality too, that’s gonna last extremely for them, and didn’t take any carbon emissions is kind of what we’re all about.

Jo Dickstein

Jo Dickstein

We try and do our best to source as locally as possible, and if we can’t, we’ll go out to the Florida or Californias, or for weddings we’ll go outside of the United States. We’re only ordering to fulfill each and every customer’s order, we need to have very little overhead.

And those stems are then used to be made into gorgeous arrangements. After it’s designed, it’s hand-packaged by our Flowers For Dreams team, and then picked up by a Flowers For Dreams courier to then hand deliver to someone’s door.

I wake up every day more motivated than I did the day before. The second that I lose that is the second that I know something is wrong.

The attractive part for me more comes from like the human element of it; we’re able to employ people and artists that want to do what they are, you know, here on this Earth to do. We’re able to then provide flowers across the community, that is a really sentimental and emotional gift.

And then we’re able to take that gift, and the revenue which we received, and donate a quarter of that profit to a different charity. Up to date we’re around $435,000 in eight years of giving.

Red Kennicott

Human beings love flowers. There’s pictures the caveman drew of flowers on the cave walls and so. Weddings, funerals, all the important things that they do flowers are a part of that and add the emotion to it.

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