Classes set Lake Forest Flowers apart
John Looby and daughter Eileen Looby Weber offer how-to classes at their local shop, Lake Forest Flowers. | Michael Jarecki ~ for Sun-Times Media
Updated: December 12, 2012 8:14AM
LAKE FOREST — On one night each month, flower-lovers from all over the North Shore eagerly pack into Lake Forest Flowers for a floral design class that provides a rare hands-on step-by-step lesson on the basics of how to build a beautiful floral bouquet.
Taught by shop owners and father and daughter duo John Looby and Eileen Looby Weber, enrollment for the design class for the past three years has filled to capacity with both seasoned class-goers and first-timers learning how to create a floral bouquet they can take home and proudly display for friends and family to see.
“No one else in the North Shore area that I know of offers classes like these,” Eileen said. “You can grab a bunch of friends and make a night out of it, bring your mom in or come by yourself — most people find that it’s really a lot of fun.”
Now vice president and director of special events, Eileen first started working with her dad at the age of 16 delivering flowers for the family-owned business. After graduating from Purdue University with a bachelor’s degree in horticulture, she joined her dad full-time at the shop.
Combining their floral design experience and expertise — John is a tropical floral design specialist who is considered a master florist by the Florists’ Transworld Delivery (FTD) standards — the two offer a comprehensive 90-minute course that teaches students how to incorporate the different elements of floral design to make their own masterpiece.
“We have a following of people who sign up for the classes each month,” John said. “It’s interesting to watch and see how much better they become over time, and everything starts falling into place.”
Class participants are set up in a workspace located at the back of the shop filled with seasonal flowers, vases, and plenty of room for snipping, selecting and arranging the flowers, which the duo say are the freshest and highest-quality flowers available in the area.
“We’re known for our long-lasting flowers,” Eileen said. “If you go out to the grocery store and pick up a bouquet, it usually will die in two days, whereas ours last much longer.”
Their goal is to teach students how to incorporate the elements of line, form, space, texture and color into their designs, so that they leave the class knowing how to turn simple flowers into a work of art.
Although John admits the classes are predominantly female, Lake Forest Flowers also hosts corporate team-building events where employees, many of whom are male, learn teamwork skills by putting floral designs together.
Outside the monthly classes hosted in the store, John and Eileen also travel to offices, garden clubs and other venues to host private group and one-on-one courses.
Since the classes began, their popularity has blossomed beyond the North Shore, with some students traveling from as far away as Naperville and Kenosha, Wis.
“We use a different selection of flowers, embellishments and vases at each class so each arrangement is always different,” Eileen said.
Two holiday-focused classes will be offered on Dec. 12 and 19, where students will learn how to use evergreens and winter flowers to create a holiday centerpiece.
To enroll, call (847) 234-0017 or e-mail Eileen at Eileen@lakeforestflowers.com.