This Midwest-based business donates 25 percent of its net profits to local charities—and recently expanded its delivery area significantly.

By Ginger Crichton
November 18, 2020
Flowers for Dreams
| Credit: Courtesy of Flowers for Dreams

Flowers for Dreams grew out of a college project, with half the proceeds going to buy backpacks for low-income students.

In 2012, it officially launched as a business in Chicago, aiming to become an alternative to what its founders called the waste, expense and “tacky selections” of the mainstream floral industry. Each sale of organic, locally crafted flowers would benefit local charities.

Today, Flowers For Dreams also maintains locations in Milwaukee (2017) and Detroit (2020)—and just increased its reach significantly with overnight shipping to seven states and more than 20 metro areas in the Great Lakes region.

“My co-founder Jo and I began selling flowers on street carts, while in college, to earn extra money to pay for school," says company founder Steven Dyme. “What started as a quick summer hustle with a commitment to help our nonprofit friends raise money for a classroom of students in need, turned into a successful college case study in profit and purpose working together. We realized the power of using flowers as a tool to advance causes of charity and justice that we cared about in our community.”

Nearly $600,000 has been donated so far to more than 100 local charities. A different charity is selected for each month; 501c (3) nonprofits in the Chicago, Detroit or Milwaukee area can apply each fall to be considered. Nonprofits chosen for 2020 included Accion, which supports small business owners; Fetching Tails Foundation, a dog rescue group; and Lemons of Love, which helps those affected by cancer.

Sales of Dog Days of Summer bouquets raised funds for Fetching Tails Foundation.
| Credit: Courtesy of Flowers for Dreams

During the pandemic, Dyme says, “So much has changed. Heading into 2020, our business was going to be approximately evenly split between weddings/events and daily flower delivery. Our wedding/event business has all but shuttered temporarily while our daily flower delivery has expanded to four more states. We'd always served Chicago, Milwaukee, and Detroit, but now we overnight ship to most of Indiana, Iowa, Minnesota, and Missouri.”

The business’ offerings have grown as well: from burlap-wrapped bouquets (often delivered by bike) to workshops (including virtual workshops), subscriptions, and locally made goods such as candles and table runners. Flowers are sourced from local wholesalers and farms.

This Flowers for Dreams wreath kit was designed for a virtual holiday workshop.
| Credit: Courtesy of Flowers for Dreams

Future plans? “We hope to bring our flowers for good model to many more communities across the region, and hopefully the country,” says Dyme. “We hope more and more companies find ways to use inspiring everyday items to solve problems and perpetuate good in both small and large ways.”