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Building A Dream When The Pandemic Is Ruining Them, Using Flowers To Brighten These Dark Times

CHICAGO (CBS) -- This next story could be a little flowery, but think of it as a bright spot during a dark time. A Chicago man working a corporate job used his free time to cultivate a germ of a dream.

CBS 2 Morning Insider Lauren Victory takes us through the timeline of his budding business.

He trims and tweaks, fluffs and feeds, but this is no pet project.

"I've always been interested in this idea," Justin Stankiewicz sid. "Are people interested in flowers?"

The idea continued to blossom this spring.

"Can flowers be a way of self-care and self-love? As opposed to always just a gift for someone else?" he said.

Stankiewcz bet on his background in fashion.

"Color pairings, and textures, and things like that," he said.

He took his show on the road over the summer, peddling his plants on the Magnificent Mile over the summer without a permit.

"With a foldout table that my parents had given me, with a white tablecloth," Stankiewicz said. "I mean, I was like, 'Am I gonna get arrested? Is the wind going to knock everything over?'"

Wildflowers came from a local farm. Other creations were sourced from a Chicago wholesaler. The arrangements tend to be smaller and less expensive than typical bouquets.

What sort of reactions was he getting?

"What is this? This is so beautiful. Where's your storefront?" he recalled.

About that: his operation is actually inside a one-bedroom condo.

"I find leaves sometimes in the bed," he said.

The mess is making moves.

"People started ordering, and it just became this thing like, 'Okay, alright. There's something here,'" Stankiewicz said.

Now Astor Flowers is a business in full bloom.

What made him want to start this business during a pandemic?

"Insanity," he said.

A fitting answer, because mental health is a focus of these gifts. Each delivery of bright colors is always accompanied by an inspiring poem.

"Really just to bring a sense of here and now, and presence of mind," he said.

Astor Flowers offers one-time ordering or monthly subscriptions, but can only deliver to the Chicago area right now, since it's a mostly one-man business.

The company partnered with some local malls to hold pop-up sales and might become a grab-and-go option at some local stores soon.

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