Jori Foreman is an expert on aesthetics. With an arts education in painting and the head designer and owner of a floral business called Fab Flora, Foreman knows how to please the eye and the spirit with floral creativity and a variety of styles. Walking into her cozy shared work studio off Fullerton Avenue, the aesthetics bounce off the walls—without even any flowers present.
The first sense that hits is the smell. Foreman has an array of seven scented candles and incense on a small coffee table in the middle of her section of the space, which is shared by The Tipsy Brush Chicago (3523 W. Fullerton Ave.). Her paintings of flowers hang above the table and throughout her space, giving the room a calming, turquoise tint that is a reminder of a quiet rose garden with a clear blue sky. Soft guitar music is playing in the corner, just loud enough to add to the ambience but not too loud to distract from the scenery and conversation.
Although there are no flowers in the shop because wedding season is dying down for winter and local flower growth is almost impossible with our harsh winters, gold, metallic and clear vases line the shelves and sit ready to be used—or perhaps they are taking a break from heavy usage and sit patiently for their next adventure.
“Wedding season dies down but planning season picks up. Everyone gets engaged in the winter,” says Foreman with a gentle laugh, wearing a turquoise sweater that matches the painting on the wall.
Building a Business in Logan Square
She says the next couple of months will be busy with writing proposals, meeting with clients and offering wreath classes for the holiday season. But aside from some small corporate events, Foreman plans next season’s weddings and takes a break from running around. Luckily, the studio is a very short walk from her house—a blessing in this freezing winter that also allows Foreman to spend more time with her two-year-old daughter.
Her daughter sometimes joins her at the studio, but its proximity gives Foreman easy access to her escape haven when she needs to think, create and plan. Since the founding of Fab Flora in 2011, she has learned the dedication, organization and stress that comes with starting a business. But Foreman also has grabbed its reigns and blossomed in the community. Even though it’s not easy, she likes being her own boss and using her artistic talents in her work.
“I don’t have to answer to anybody. I choose when I want to have a meeting [or] when I want to go on vacation,” she says about one of her favorite aspects of owning her own business.
Foreman has grown her client base in the neighborhood and said her aesthetic fits with its vibe. Her easygoing attitude, creativity and focus on green weddings makes Logan Square a sturdy home.
Not unlike other businesses, she says hers is the kind that will keep her mind spinning, even in her dreams. She shared her recent dream about forgetting a wedding until two hours before it. With a panicked laugh, she says this has never happened in real life but it shows how invested she is in her company. That nonstop dedication is important and common in Chicago’s floral industry landscape.
“There’s a lot of close-knit vendors—florists, wedding planners, caterers, venues, that are very supportive and helpful,” she says.
Specializing in Going Green
Foreman specializes in green and eco-friendly weddings, which can be difficult in the floral industry. But fitting with her clientele and values, Fab Flora gets local flowers from July through October, does not use flower foam to keep arrangements in place and does not use chemicals. Instead, Foreman says she uses chicken wire to make sure flowers stay standing.
Whether clients want to allow guests to take them home or recycle the bouquets, Foreman says it’s always nice to give back and reuse flowers in any way possible. The company composts any remaining flowers and recycles bouquets to Random Acts of Flowers in Evanston, a national nonprofit that donates bouquets to nursing home residents and elderly people.
When it comes to what’s trending, Foreman says the 2017 season featured a lot of gold vases and color patterns. Garlands were huge, too, she says, as well as geometric flowers.
As Fab Flora enters 2018, Foreman shared some personal and business goals she wants to explore this year.
“Accept weddings that are more aesthetically exciting to me to help keep things fresh and fulfilling to my creative spirit,” she says.
Discovering new local farmers, attending a flower arranging course from designers she admires and hiring more help are also on the list. Fab Flora has grown over the years and Foreman said more hands on deck to delegate administrative tasks and design projects would be beneficial to her family time and to the business.