A REAL FLOWER GIRL
“I was the kid that Dad gave money to for buying flowers for my mom on Mother’s Day,” recalls Hennepin Technical College graduate Aimee Bachmann. “I told the local florist, I want to do what you do.” And she really has.
Now the owner of Windy City Flower Girls in Oak Lawn, Illinois, this 1993 graduate of HTC’s Floral Design program says that her training at HTC provided her with a great base of knowledge about caring for flowers and starting a successful career. She credits her mentor, Joanne Sarkilahti, with helping her hone her skills during an internship and subsequent five-year career at Sarkilahti’s floral shop in Eden Prairie. Sarkilahti sold the shop in 1998, and is a lab assistant in HTC’s Floral Design program. “She’s a phenomenal mentor,” says Bachmann, "and I learned a lot working at her shop.”
In 2002, with the encouragement of a friend who lived in Chicago, Bachmann made the move to the Windy City and gained experience at FTD’s corporate office in the online division of FTD.com. There she learned about the online marketing and sales platform and worked with top floral shop owners across the country. Next, she moved into a new department at FTD called the flower exchange, which gave her the chance to work directly with top flower farms and importers all over the world. Another highlight for Bachmann was managing the Walt Disney World florist account, which involved sourcing large amounts of flowers for weddings and events on Disney properties in Orlando.
After seven years, Bachmann was laid off in the downsizing that followed FTD’s sale to another company. That’s when she began working as the Midwest account manager for a California flower grower. Traveling to the farm, Bachmann saw firsthand how the flowers are grown, harvested, and shipped to wholesalers across the country. It added to her knowledge about the flower industry and with all the contacts she was making, Bachmann began to think about opening her own shop. Then, at her father-in-law’s funeral, she saw florists deliver flower baskets that still had tags on them and poor quality flowers that had been trimmed and spray painted. After seeing what the competition was doing, Bachmann knew she could do better by providing the highest quality flowers and the best service.
Bachmann opened the doors to her shop in October 2010. In her own words, it has been “wildly successful.” In 2011, she was the florist for 25 weddings, with twice as many in 2012. She is also gaining recognition beyond Chicago.
Windy City Flower Girls is featured in the January 2013 “Best Of” edition of TheKnot.com, the popular online wedding planning website, as well as being recognized by The Wedding Channel.
To keep up with her growing business, Bachmann has two employees. In addition, her husband, Mark, a police officer, helps with deliveries on his days off duty. For Bachmann, it’s all about providing beautiful flowers for every occasion. She also recalls a saying of her mentor Joanne Sarkilahti’s that has stuck with her to this day: “If I can’t have fun, I don’t want to do it.” After two decades in the floral industry, she’s just as enthusiastic as when she graduated from HTC.
“My customers ask me, ‘Why do your flowers always last so long?’ and I tell them, ‘Because they’re supposed to,” says Bachmann emphatically. With that devotion to offering the highest quality flowers, Aimee Bachmann has put her HTC training and all of her experience to work for her customers at Windy City Flower Girls. With recognition from TheKnot.com and The Wedding Channel, the following for this flower girl continues to grow.
Last updated by jhanson : 2015-02-21 15:24:34