Start-Up Spotlight: Flowers for Dreams

Steven Dyme is the Co-Founder and Creative Director of Chicago based start-up Flowers for Dreams. Flowers for Dreams delivers – by bicycle! – beautiful, hand-crafted, locally-sourced and inspired bouquets that benefit Chicago charities. Born and raised in Chicago’s Northern suburbs, Dyme always knew he wanted to pursue social justice work but he never thought he’d be making his mark selling flowers. Read about Flowers for Dreams’ life-changing bouquets below.

Hi Steven! Thanks so much for taking the time to chat with me. I’d love to hear a bit about how you started Flowers for Dreams.

My co-founder, Jo Dickstein, and I spent our college summers peddling flowers at graduations. At first, it was a gig to make extra money, then it became a fundraiser to support low-income students, and eventually it evolved into a business, which would later become Flowers for Dreams.

The mission was to create a more accessible alternative for buying and sending flowers. We were tired of the big box dozen rose bouquets, deceptive pricing, and altogether stale customer experience. We realized we weren’t alone. So, we decided to try and create a flower company that would make people like flowers again. Badass, locally crafted bouquets in modern packaging, fair and honest pricing with a couple easy clicks, and a well-integrated social conscience: every bouquet benefits an amazing local charity.

As a small start-up, what has been your biggest hurdle? Your biggest triumph?

We were young, fresh out of college, when we started. The biggest hurdle was credibility. Raising money, getting customers, with no professional experience to harp on. Our biggest triumph was gutting our brand after a year and starting over. Flowers for Dreams had a more confused aesthetic and persona when we started, so with the help of one of our most amazing customers (and later investors) we trashed the whole brand and came up with a whole new face.

Photo credit: Flowers for Dreams

Why did you choose to start your business in Chicago?

Not really a choice, didn’t think about Chicago versus another city. We were both from Chicago, had contacts here, and thought this was our only path. We’ve learned how amazing and collaborative Chicago is over time.

And why did you choose to stay?

We’ve grown our whole business through collaboration – collaboration with local shops, small mom-and-pop brands, and products we really believe in. From what I’ve heard, that culture of collaboration is often rare elsewhere.

What has been your favorite project you’ve had the chance to put together?

We love working with Bang Bang Pie. We’re doing another amazing collaboration with them, this time for Thanksgiving. Check out our Instagram (@FlowersForDreams) for more information.

In your opinion, what makes Flowers for Dreams unique?

We do everything in house. We source, curate, design, and deliver the flowers from a single workshop all through Chicagoland and NW Indiana. Our bouquets have a very distinct aesthetic, much of our delivery is done by bike, and our dedication to giving back on every sale isn’t found many places elsewhere in the industry.

It sounds like sustainability is central to the Flowers for Dreams ethos.

For as many months of the year as possible, we work with local flower farms. One of note, the Cook County Jail. This past summer we were approached by the Deputy Director of their produce farm, Kerry Wright, who wanted to start a similar flower farm. It’s a rehabilitative effort for current inmates, and we thought it was such a worthwhile program. It needed funding to get off the ground so we committed to buying a lot of flowers every week throughout the whole summer. It’s a year in and we plan to continue to support.

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Photo credit: Flowers for Dreams

That’s so awesome! How do you select the local charity organizations that you partner with? And congrats on raising over $100k!

Each member of our full-time team each gets a vote. We spend several days discussing all of the applications (this year over 200!) and rank our favorites. Ultimately it ends up being a reflection of each of our values as people and as a company on the whole.

What is your favorite part about your job?

The people. Particularly those I work with, but also those we send and deliver to. We make people smile every day, with bouquets and donations, and that feeling never gets old.

Flowers for Dreams has had awesome success tapping into the millennial market. You have nearly 20k Instagram followers! Why do you think millennials are attracted to your brand?

Thank you! We try and promote a very simple, modern alternative. Our visual content is authentic and straightforward, our mission resonates, and we’re just a huge diversion from traditional flower companies. We are millennials ourselves, so I’d like to say we understood what appeals and matters to our generation.

Screen Shot 2015-11-15 at 2.03.54 PM
Photo credit: Flowers for Dreams

Corny question, but, do you have a favorite flower?

Always tough, but I’d say dahlias. You can grow them beautifully locally.

A favorite arrangement Flowers for Dreams offers?

Our seasonal bouquet! Currently that’s #Fall. It’s this mix of pretty much everything you could forage for on your own – leaves, acorns, woods, barks, – with a couple of very beautiful feature flowers in the middle.

What do you see next for Flowers for Dreams?

Expansion to another city!

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