LAKE FOREST/LAKE BLUFF — Molly Flavin fell in love with florist shops more than 20 years ago when she had a part-time job sweeping floors at a florist in Chicago’s Old Town neighborhood.
The dream of owning her own store was planted then, and it will come true May 3 when the Lake Bluff resident opens Molly Flavin, a florist shop at 259 Market Square in Lake Forest.
“I’m ready for a new challenge,” said Flavin, who was diagnosed and treated for Stage 3 breast cancer two years ago. “Since I got cancer the community embraced me and my family. They were so sympathetic when I was so ill I want to give back and provide the community with warmth and service.”
Flavin said that as a florist, she enjoys being able to warm up a person’s day when the weather is at its wintry worst.
“I love being able to walk in when the weather is so dreary and work in an environment surrounded by the beauty of life,” Flavin said. “I can’t be feeling low when I’m doing what I love.”
Growing up in Wilmette before heading to DePaul University, Flavin worked part-time in a flower shop while in college. Though her job was entry level, the gig directed the art major’s creative skills into designing flowers as her life’s work.
“I swept the floors and conditioned the flowers,” Flavin said, describing how she removed thorns from rose stems and took excess foliage off other plants to get them ready for sale in the shop. From that first experience I knew right away I loved it and it’s what I wanted to do.”
After graduating from DePaul, a friend of a friend told her about a shop in Lake Forest, Exfloreus, and suggested she see the owner about a job. Flavin was hired and worked there with some time off for maternity leave until the store closed in 2008.
Exfloreus was gone, but Flavin said many of the customers stayed with her as she continued to do their floral designs out of her basement and garage. Then she stopped abruptly.
“Two years ago I was diagnosed with Stage 3 breast cancer,” Flavin said. “I was thinking about my children.”
In June, Flavin said she got a clean bill of health and it was time for the next chapter of her life. She started to plan her new store.
“You’ve got one life and you have to do the best with it,” said Katie Hickey of Lake Bluff, Flavin’s sister and a shop employee. “This place fills a niche.”
Market Square shoppers got a brief taste of what Flavin offers in December when she opened what she called a pop-up shop on Bank Lane near Market House on the Square. Now she has a permanent store a few doors away.
“We tested the waters,” Flavin said. “We sold some of the same things we will have when we open. We had blooming plants and cut flowers.”
Flavin said she also sold some of the types of gifts and home décor accessories she plans to offer in her new store. She said there will be a far more extensive selection including table cloths, napkins, candles, place mats and more.
“I want to help people set a beautiful table with flowers and table wares,” Flavin said.
Along with the gifts and accessories, people will find all the trappings of a traditional florist including fresh cut flowers, blooming plants and topiaries. She said she looks forward to helping people with everything from buying one plant to planning a major event.
“We can help people with an arrangement for themselves or help with parties, weddings, rehearsal dinners,” Flavin said. “I love the personal side of retail. Checking with people about a graduation or bridal shower and letting them know I’ll help any way I can.”