Steven Dyme founded an innovative, flower-powered startup in 2012, while enrolled at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The idea was simple – he figured he could sell a few hundred floral bouquets to parents for a local high school graduation ceremony, donating half the money he made to charity and keeping the other half to cover some of his college costs. But soon families at other high schools caught wind of the project and wanted to buy bouquets too. Eventually, Dyme was able to turn his college side hustle into a fully fledged company, keeping charity a central component of its mission.
Now the company, Flowers for Dreams, operates out of Chicago and Milwaukee and is slated to open a brick and mortar store in Walker’s Point in less than a month. In anticipation of the event, we sat down with marketing manager Lindsay Leinenkugel to ask her about the company and its charitable focus.
How is Flowers for Dreams unlike a traditional florist?
First and foremost, we give back 25 percent of profits to charity every month. And we’re actively putting on events with the charities and partnering with them. Flowers for Dreams is a modern company. It’s not your average florist offering balloons and gifts. All of our flowers are locally crafted, and we source locally grown flowers as much as we can.
How do you decide which charities to donate to each month?
We open our charity application every year in October. We invite nonprofits in Milwaukee and Chicago to apply. And we get the core team together to pitch our favorite charities to each other. Some of the charities hit really close to home for some of us. After that, we all vote.
Teens Grow Greens is our April charity. It’s a really cool organization that provides local kids with paid internships and teaches them about sustainability. We support both small and large charities. The Hunger Task Force and Milwaukee Public Library get our support too.
Who’s a typical Flowers for Dreams customer?
Everyone loves flowers, and they make such a cool and thoughtful gift, so anyone can really appreciate the bouquets. But Milwaukee-area Millennials seem to love the company’s charity aspect especially.
Do weddings account for a large portion of your sales?
As a whole, weddings and events are a big part of our business. We’re going to do more than 500 weddings this year, but daily deliveries still play a major part too.
Why did the company want to expand to Milwaukee?
Proximity to Chicago was important. We needed to be close to the next location, so the drive would be easy. Knowing that people in Milwaukee are so giving and so interested in giving back to their own community was crucial too – we knew the model would work as well in Milwaukee as it did in Chicago. People here are proud of where they’re from and what to support local businesses and nonprofits.
Can you tell us when or where the company will be opening its first retail store here?
It will be in Walker’s Point. We’re hoping to open either in late April or around the first of May.