Labyrinth: Featured Florists

Flora Elements Education and Design is a full-service flower shop and floral school, located at 24 Enterprise Rd, Unit G, in Delafield, WI. They are open M-F 10-5. They offer daily orders and deliveries, as well as wedding and funeral flowers, classes and workshops, kids programs, and adult dementia programs. Fall classes will be starting in October!

Why did you decide to become a business owner?

I have always been an entrepreneur as a child, selling everything and even getting called into the principal’s office being questioned if I was making a profit. In 2018, I was working in a toxic environment that led to a major health scare which made me quit the job and look for a location to start teaching classes full-time. Flora Elements studio is a safe space for people to share, laugh, and even have a good cry! Flowers invoke a lot of emotions, memories, but should never be a place of anger or resentment. My retail designs come from a place of love and passion. Even after 20 years as a florist, I still want to see a beaming smile on the recipient’s face. Teaching is my true passion and something I really challenge myself to be better at every year by taking classes myself or listening to other podcasts. My FFA (Future Farmers of America) students teach me so much, even if they don’t realize it. I learn from them and how they approach a project.

What was your mission at the start of your business? 

My intention at opening Floral Elements was to provide floral design classes for the community. While working in retail floral shops for over 20 years you always heard, “Oh it must be so much fun to play with flowers all day!” Honestly, I used to roll my eyes at this because our job is not easy by any means and most people never call back to say “that was so pretty” so it can be a bit ungratifying. However, I decided not to pop the bubble of excitement and open a studio that offers classes for any level or if you just want to play with flowers and it ends up looking like Edward Scissor Hands made it… oh well, we had fun, laughs and probably too much wine! The other offering is for those who wish to pursue a career as a florist and are coming from zero background knowledge and building from ground up. I actually prefer working with those who have no experience as they are a white canvas, and we can layer their knowledge using the skills they had from previous jobs and then really focus on design techniques and nomenclature. My current focus is working with High School students who are FFA Floriculture students. I am currently the Wisconsin Superintendent which is a very fancy name for “the one who puts the State Competition together” lol. It has been one of the biggest challenges with Covid and so many hurdles over the past 2 years, however 2022 State was a huge success with 12 schools testing.

What makes your business unique?

I’m not your typical florist. I always tell people we shatter the vase, sometimes throw them! I worked in all the roundy-moundy, huggable hump, boring carnation daisy shops and decided enough was enough! I only sell premium gorgeous blooms and lush arrangements or the exact opposite a very masculine architectural minimalist design that you might just sit and stare at for a while and say, “what in the world was that girl thinking?”  We also love to make designs for men. Men appreciate flowers just as much as women, but they don’t want a dozen roses or a big fat pile of flowers, they want art to show their guy friends! I refuse to copy/paste from pictures. It’s very unrealistic as a business model and there are WAY too many beautiful flowers to show off on a seasonal basis to waste your time copying a picture. We work with local Wisconsin Flower Farmers first, then I look outside my state for more options. When winter is here, I buy an incredible amount of flowers from Holland. My flower students are exposed to a multitude of flowers and taught where each ones originates or potentially grows to truly appreciate their journey to your table or wedding. We love to say that our goal is the fuse nature with design.

What services or products do you offer?

Currently we are a full-service flower shop and floral school. We offer:

 – Daily orders and deliveries

– Weddings and Funerals

 – Classes and Workshops

– Kids Programs

-Adult Dementia Programs

We can travel to your location for classes also!

What made you choose to run your business in Milwaukee?

I have left Wisconsin many times and traveled the world. Oddly, Delafield just keeps pulling me back. I tell people my business is right outside the Hallmark channel. They laugh, but then after they drive through, then they understand. The intimate setting, the business owners, and the community is amazing. I have lived a lot of places in my life, but Delafield is HOME. I lived in a different state for over four years and was struggling to decide if moving back to Wisconsin was a good choice. My Dad and I walked into a Menards and the lady yelled from the service desk, “Good Morning and Welcome”. I jumped back and yelled back “Good Morning to you!” and looked at my dad and said, “I just made up my mind, I’m coming back to Wisconsin!

I also love bragging that I live in one of the most resilient states in American where we are so industrious and rarely do we let the huge events affect us. The last two years have been crazy, but Wisconsin stepped up and we have so many new flower farms to assist us in our purchases. I could never be a farmer, but Ill cheer them on and support them any day!

What is your business goal?

I’m here to educate, whether that is to tell an everyday person what to add to their water to make their flowers last longer or to assist someone changing careers to get their dream of opening a flower shop. I believe all my past events and jobs make a perfect storm of credibility and the knowledge I bring to the design table to succeed. I love watching student bloom and hearing when they book their first wedding or printed their business cards, that will never get old. My goal is to build a program where any age group can truly appreciate floral design and learn the fundamentals in a practical way.

What made you choose to start a business in this industry?

I naturally was drawn to flowers and the more arts side of the world as a child. While in high school I worked for a craft store and a greenhouse. I graduated high school a semester early and had to take college classes. At the suggestion from my counselor, I took floral design and interior landscaping. I really didn’t care for the programs but found an innate ability to mimic everything they taught and apply immediately. So, I decide to work as a floral designer and take advance classes with whomever they said was “the best of the best” that year. I have never stopped doing that, you must continually grow and see something through other’s perspectives. During my 20 plus years I have managed flower shops, worked in logistics and shipping, exported product from New Zealand, started a business in Papua New Guinea, worked on HUGE weddings, been a buyer for large firms, taught floral design, stage presentations, and worked in wholesale floral.

Flora Elements Education and Design’s selected artwork: Michael Patterson, Geometric Dance, Acrylic on canvas, 48 x 60″
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