Marianne Juscik-Minier of Portage has long embraced her creativity, which stems from a lineage of creatives and artistic roots.
“My family is extremely creative, and I tinkered in different creative avenues all my life,” Juscik-Minier said. “My grandma had a huge veggie garden growing up, my mom is a seamstress, my dad is an extraordinary carpenter, and my uncle and brother are both artists. With my strong creative background, I found I came by the art of creating very easily, and always tried to find my niche in the creative world.”
After being exposed to a myriad of creative outlets, Juscik-Minier found one that spoke to her soul: floristry. She bought her first flower shop, Flowers and Such, in Wanatah back in 2011, but her love for all pretty, petalled creations began much earlier. Back in high school, she paid visits to Bunny Nemcek, family friend and owner of Nemcek Florists in Hammond, and quickly fell in love with the industry, soaking up everything the shop had to offer.
“I used to go and sit and watch her make flowers for different school dances and such,” Juscik-Minier said. “I loved being in her shop, and that was when I knew I wanted to do flowers.”
Juscik-Minier earned her Masters in Higher Education Administration and enjoyed a career as an event planner before diving full force into the floral industry.
“My background was initially in event planning for student activities at the college level and also for weddings,” Juscik-Minier said. “Once I learned the floral aspect, I was able to do the whole event package and became a full-circle planner and designer. I then springboarded off of that experience to work more in the corporate side of things before settling in my niche in the world of flowers.”
In 2018, Juscik-Minier moved into what was previously Portage Flowers, rekindling her lifelong passion.
“The previous owner was closing, and was in the middle of auctioning off her assets at the time,” said Juscick-Minier. “She and I made arrangements for me to move into the old location at 6315 Central Ave, and I spent my first year there. Then in June of last year, I moved to my current location on 5923 Central Ave.”
While Juscik-Minier adores creating unique designs and working with the flowers themselves, connecting with her customers is what really makes her job meaningful.
“I love the beauty of flowers, plain and simple, but the real magic is watching people light up when you present them with a bouquet,” Juscik-Minier said. “When someone comes in, whether they’re looking for help with a wedding, a funeral, or a surprise for their spouse, nothing beats finding the perfect thing for them. Knowing that what I put together is going to either make someone happy, or bring someone comfort, or make someone’s day is incredible. My whole purpose is to bring joy and comfort through my work.”
Having found her calling and chased it with fervor, Juscik-Minier is a testament to what can happen when you hold onto life’s passions with an iron fist.
“Never give up on your dream, because sometimes it doesn’t happen the first time around,” Juscik-Minier said. “Always keep fighting and always work hard and go for what you want. That’s what I try and show my daughter every day.”
Her daughter, Madeline, 8, inspires Juscik-Minier to put her best work into the world, forming the best bouquets and creating the best version of herself in the process.
“My daughter is my shining star, my everything,” Juscik-Minier said. “I love what I’m building with my flower shop and that I get to share it with her. Through everything I do here, I try and show her how strong a woman can be, that she can be self-reliant and driven. To be here with her is my favorite place in the world.”
An equally strong contender for Juscik-Minier’s heart is her 12-year-old miniature dachshund.
“I just love dogs,” she said. “If I weren’t a florist, I’d be doing something with dogs.”
Though the flower industry has changed a lot over the years, one thing that remains consistent for Juscik-Minier is the importance of supporting local vendors in the midst of the growing popularity of online ordering.
“What people don’t know about online vendors is that a lot of times there are so many fees and processing costs involved that their $70 order often only gets them $40 worth of flowers that come in standard, cookie-cutter arrangements,” Juscik-Minier said. “Whereas if they were to place a $70 order with myself or another local vendor, they would get their full $70 worth of fresh flowers in a unique arrangement customized to fit them and their needs.”
Bringing unique bouquets to life for the community is important to Juscik-Minier, but of equal priority is the opportunity to spread love and affection through each of her orders.
“I think it’s really important to love the ones you’re with, and not take for granted the people that are in your life, especially in the time we’re living in now,” Juscik-Minier said. “I feel that I’m in a unique situation with what I do for a living. In this industry, I’m blessed to be able to help bridge the distance between people, especially with our current situation with social distancing. My hope is that my flowers can bring people together, in both times of celebration and struggle.”