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!"