IDEA: Plant a Seed of Charity With Every Bouquet

A seed that was planted as an idea blossomed into a social entrepreneurship business that is growing like wildflowers in Chicago.

Flowers for Dreams is not your average florist: with a vintage, rustic aesthetic and attention to detail on every bouquet, customers not only get a bundle of locally crafted flowers, but also a chance to give back to various charities.

“Our charity model is different in that it is the most authentic of models,” said CEO Steven Dyme. “From a marketing standpoint, it’s less intuitive, but we just choose projects that we genuinely care about.”

With each bouquet, a quarter of the profits contribute to the company’s “Charity of the Month” and that charity’s mission. 12 charities are chosen each year, one for each month, so just as the seasons and flowers change, so does the cause.

Past charities have included One Tail at a Time Dog Rescue, Working Bikes, Chicago Coalition for the Homeless, and currently for the month of August, Namaste Charter School.

Dyme said his employees rank the charities they like the most and want to help. The only qualifications is that the charities are Chicago-based and are working on a uniquely Chicago problem, as well as a degree of credibility. Flowers for Dreams have contributed nearly $67,000 to these various charities.

“We are a for-profit business with a non-profit ideology. As a business, we have that power to do good,” Dyme said.

Teaming up with Chicago charities isn’t the only local partnership Flowers for Dreams has. The company gets all of their flowers from Chicago area gardens, and their newest garden is a charity in itself.

“We have recently partnered with the Cook County Jail and their rehabilitation program,” Dyme said. “The program helps out the inmates, and they help us out by growing flowers in the one acre flower farm at the jail.”

Dyme’s social entrepreneurship attitude began back in college when him and his friends sold flowers at graduation ceremonies. They teamed up with the schools and worked out an agreement that with every bouquet they sold, a backpack with school supplies would be donated for students in need.

“It was a win-win. We were able to sell our flowers without competition, and the schools got to be associated with a charity,” Dyme said. “It changed our outlook on business.

Dyme already knew the flower business and understood the market, so he simplified his own business when Flowers for Dreams opened a little over three years ago.

“What makes us stand out in the industry, aside from our charity work, is our honest prices and free delivery,” he said. “We’re not going to up-sell you with teddy bears or balloons or whatever else we’ve been trained to believe that flowers come with.”

The personal touch that Flowers for Dreams is known for, along with its fundamental business model of giving back, is allowing the company to grow in customers and collaborations.

“Lots of good things are happening here in Chicago that we are focusing in on,” Dyme said.

[Via: The Idea Forge]

About Allison Matyus