Journal

October 22, 2020

40 Years and Still Going Strong

40 Years and Still Going Strong

As a little girl in Europe, Irene Seaman spent hours walking through the fields of her family's greenhouses, learning the names and features of each flower. This is where she fell in love - with flowers and with working a family business.

When her parents settled in Canada they did what came natural to them, they established greenhouses and began to build a community of friends and customers. It was there, under the guidance of her father, that Irene turned her artistic interest in flower design into a passion for continuing and growing the family business. 

"My dad taught me so much about customer service. He would remind me often that without customers you have no business. He was always so focused on making sure our customers walked away happy. That's how he measured success; a happy customer."

In 1980, after operating a retail flower shop across town, Irene established Academy Florist on Academy road.

"When we were looking to make a change in our business we decided to open our shop in this area because we loved the community. This area of the city has always been so friendly and full of great people!"

Over the past 40 years, Irene has experienced the expected ebb and flow that comes with operating a local business. There have been years of easy growth and success and years when it was more difficult. No matter what was happening in the world around her, Irene was steadfast in her chosen path.

"My father also taught me a lot about developing a strong work ethic. Giving up was never an option. When things get tough that's when you have to look deep inside and pull that resolution to move forward out of you. You just have to remember what it's all about and keep going."

  For Irene, Academy Florist was never just about the flowers. It's always been about connection and family.

  "I'm not just selling flowers. I am providing comfort and love and joy and connection. People say so much with flowers, things they have trouble saying with words. Flowers help people to heal and to gain strength. Flowers remind people that they are not alone. Flowers remind us to stop and feel."

Although Irene has spent her whole life in the flower business don't think for a minute that she is ready to slow down! She thoroughly enjoys the challenge of sourcing new products and staying ahead of current trends. She loves staying connected to her customers and helping them to make the most out of the occasions in their lives.

"I'm also so proud of the team at Academy Florist. I am just one person. I could have never done all of this on my own. I have been blessed to always have really good people on my team. Together, we get to serve Winnipeg and Manitoba. We get to keep helping people. We get to keep doing what we love and loving the people we serve!"

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October 05, 2020

Mum's the Word

Mum's the Word

One sure signal that fall has arrived is the utter explosion of mums in stock! Our cooler is bursting with chrysanthemums of all different shapes, colours and sizes - and it is glorious!

I must admit that I once thought mums were boring but after a little reading and a lot of flower-gazing I now think mums are a treasure trove of colour and style. With more than 40 different species and more than a thousand different varieties of blooms, chrysanthemums are as unique and as interesting as snowflakes!

Here's a few fast facts about these fall beauties... 

Chrysanthemums have their roots in China, where they are still celebrated and revered. They are one of the 'Four Gentlemen of China' - orchids, plum blossom and bamboo are the other three. Each one represents a season with Chrysanthemums representing fall which makes sense as they begin to bloom in the late summer or early fall and are the official flower for the month of November.

Chrysanthemums can also be found in Chinese medicine and cuisine due to the belief of their healing powers for the mind and body. One legend states that drinking from the stem of a Chrysanthemum can bring long and healthy life which may have propelled the popularity of Chrysanthemum tea and wine. 

During the 17th and 18th centuries Chrysanthemums left their Asian homes and made their way around the globe. They became quick favourites in gardens around the western world because of their many varieties and colour combinations as well as for their use as a natural bug repellent in gardens, too.

For us here at Academy Florists, Chrysanthemums offer us endless options when creating beautiful and long-lasting bouquets and arrangements. From Spider mums' thin, dense petals to the firm, spikey blooms of the Quilled mums to the short, tight globes of the poms to the wide, feathery petals of the anemone - they are a never-ending source of inspiration for our skilled designers.

Our fall collection features some of my favourite mums. And what's more, we have partnered with a fabulous local coffee roaster to offer something really special this season. If you order one of our coffee themed bouquets or arrangements you will receive a 4oz pack of Red Lake Coffee beans. So click on over to our fall collection and order a Pumpkin Spice, Hot Apple Cider, Blonde Vanilla, Flat White, Caramel Macchiato, Gourmet or House Blend to receive your own wonderful fall treat!

 

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September 17, 2020

Need Flowers - Or Anything? Buy Local

Need Flowers - Or Anything? Buy Local

Now, more than ever, buying local matters. Small business owners and local shops have had to do some quick pivots during the last six months and not all have survived. Here at the shop we are forever grateful for our faithful friends and new customers who have found us on social media over the last few months.

The internet has ushered in an era of convenience and accessibility for shoppers, which is great. But in the midst of looking for the best deal and flocking to discount retailers we, as consumers, can forget about the lovely and unique local shops in our own back yard. Here are some tips to consider when looking to make a purchase.

Five Tips to Keeping it Local

     1. Do Your Research - Before you spend a dime, do a little research. Do a search on social media to find unique shops in your area. Often times, local businesses 'follow' each other and promote each other on Instagram so spend a little time following the 'follow-chain' to discover  a new, hidden gem in your town. Your local neighborhood Facebook group is a great place to find recommendations on shops and services in your area, too. 

     2. Be Flexible - When shopping local, remember that small businesses don't have the buying power of big box stores so while you may have something in particular in mind remain open to suggestions. Local shops often stock unique or handmade items from local artisans or independent designers. Having an open mind while shopping local can yield wonderful results!

    3. Add a Little Extra - In this time of economic uncertainty for small businesses, every customer is a difference maker and spending a little bit more can have a huge impact on the business come month end. If you are picking up a gift, add an art card. Ordering take out, add desert. Picking up flowers for a friend, take home a little plant for yourself, too. Each extra ten or fifteen dollars spent boosts the bottomline for your local retailers and that's just good news for everyone!

     4. Be Kind - These last months have been filled with uncertainty and stress for all of us. No one in our generation has ever experienced such widespread change and continued shifting of protocols and guidelines before. This has left us all a little (or a lot) more stressed than usual. That's why a little kindness goes a long way. It's been a huge learning curve for shop owners to take their businesses online while at the same time adapting their in-person shop experiences to maintain all recommended protocols. I promise you, we are all doing the best we can. We want to serve our customers to the same standard we did pre-COVID, it just may take us a little more time or more steps to fulfill your requests. Be kind. Be patient. We're in this together.


    5. Spread the News! Have you had a great experience at a local shop? Tell your friends and your neighbors. Leave a good review. Tag the shop on social media. Recommend the business on Facebook. And above all, call the manager to let them know how stellar their staff is. Honestly, people are quick to ask to speak to the manager when they are displeased but it rarely occurs to folks to call back to give a shout out for a job well done. It means the world to your front line retail workers to hear that their efforts are appreciated.

This too shall pass. Eventually this pandemic will end and we will settle in to the regular rhythms of life again. In the meantime, shop local, be kind, wear a mask, wash your hands and know that we sure do appreciate you.

 

 

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September 01, 2020

Let's Get You Some Answers!

Let's Get You Some Answers!

After nearly 40 years in business, we have this flower gig down pretty good.

We have a rhythm to the shop and we are used to the cycle of busyness that comes with holidays, weddings and events. We have a routine of preparing the shop for each season while still meeting the needs of our day-to-day customers that has worked for us for decades but in this COVID era we have been thrown a few curve balls and we have had to adapt on the fly, as many of you have also.

Here are answers to some of the most common questions we are being asked these days.

Is your shop open to customers?                                                           

Our shop is open Monday to Saturday, 9am until 5pm, each week. Customers are welcome to enter the shop but just one customer can be in the shop at a time. We also request that each customer who enters the shop wear a mask during their visit. There is hand sanitizer just inside the door for customer use. 

 

Are you making deliveries?

Our drivers are hard at work making contactless deliveries Monday through Saturday each week. We are able to deliver to hospitals and most care homes too at this time. As part of our COVID policy, we do contact the recipient prior to delivery to ensure that someone will be available on the date of delivery. We should also note that while we cannot guarantee a specific time of delivery, our drivers do their best to accommodate morning or afternoon requests. 

 

Can I get a same-day order?

We accept same-day delivery orders until noon and same day pick-up orders with one-hour advance notice. We also have a selection of ready made bouquets, arrangements and plants available in shop for our customers to choose from if you want to pop by.

 

Can I call ahead to order something to pick up?

Yes, for sure! We offer curbside pick-up for orders placed online or over the phone. All you need to do is give us a call when you arrive at the shop and we'll put your order in the pick-up box at the front of the store. This saves you from having to wait in line or needing to mask-up to enter the shop.

 

Can I drop by the shop for a funeral or wedding consultation? 

We have suspended in-person consultations for events and funerals until further notice. We encourage customers to call or email the shop with their event details so we can make arrangements for the appropriate person to meet with you either over the phone or through video messaging. We have both a wedding/event consultant and a funeral specialist to assist you in your planning.

 

Can you get in all of the same flowers you could before COVID?

Our buyer is crafty and she has been able to source most of  our regular stock throughout the pandemic, thus far. There has been some fluctuation week to week of what is available, so that is why you may have been told that we cannot promise to have certain items  in stock weeks in advance. There is also the natural cycle of flowers being in and out of season that we are subject to. While we cannot guarantee specific items sometimes, I will say that I have seen Irene work her magic and bring in the impossible over these last few months!

 

Can I send flowers out-of-province through your shop?

Pre-COVID we were able to wire orders around the world. Since the outbreak of the pandemic, unfortunately many florists have had to close shop - some temporarily but others permanently. While we can attempt to assist you in ordering flowers to be sent out-of-province, often times we are unsuccessful in finding an FTD florist who is capable of fulfilling orders because our network has shrunk. In truth, you have better chances of being successful if you contact a florist who is local to the recipient personally. This will also give you the ability to speak directly with the florist who will be designing your order so you can have all of your questions answered.

Do you have any questions for us?

If so, ask us through email (info@academyflorist.com) or on our Instagram page

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August 12, 2020

Pet Friendly Petals & Plants

Pet Friendly Petals & Plants

One of the most frequent questions we get at the shop is, "What flowers or plants are safe for my pets?" While we recommend keeping your blooms out of your wee fluffball's reach, we know that isn't always possible. So here is a list of flowers and plants that are not poisonous to pets.

Buds & Blooms

Our in-shop pet expert recommends bouquets containing Orchids, Roses, Gerbera or Sunflowers. You can fill out the bouquets with flowers like Alstromeria, Freesia, Liatras, Snap Dragons and Statice. Carnations, Asters and Baby's Breath are okay, too.

Some traditional favourites like lilies, daffodils and tulips are toxic to cats so its best to steer away from those. Unfortunately, Chrysanthemums, Irises and Gladiolas are also a no-go for our feline friends. Dogs also can run into problems with Delphiniums, Hydrangeas and Lily of the Valley. And bad news for peony lovers, these blooms are a definite no for our furry friends.

 

Green & Blooming Plants

Just because you have furry pets doesn't mean you can't enjoy a few plant buddies, too. There are lots of plant varieties that you can choose from. Swedish Ivy, Areca Palms and Boston Ferns are popular choices for pet parents. Money Trees are also safe for pets with the added benefit of being very resilient and relatively low maintenance. Air, Prayer & Spider Plants are all excellent choices as well.

Most varieties of succulents are fine with one notable exception. Aloe plants may bring healing to humans but they are toxic for pets. Also on the toxic list for green plants are Bamboo, Eucalyptus, Shamrock and Snake Plants. While you may enjoy your Marijuana plants, they are not a good idea for your pets as they are also toxic if ingested.

As for blooming plants, African Violets, Roses and Hibiscus are all safe for your pets. Gloxinia, Christmas Cactus and Bromeliad are considered safe, too.

 

Disclaimer: While some plants and flowers are considered non-toxic, even these can cause an upset stomach, vomiting and diarrhea for your pet. So, take care and keep an eye on your fur-babies.  

 

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