By Agnes Constante
Founder & blogger
On Broadway Street between Center and 1st South sits New Ulm resident Heather Hammer’s floral shop, A to Zinnia Floral & Gifts. It’s a business that opened to the community in July of 2012, marking its fourth year of operations.
A Minnesota native, Heather grew up 25 miles west of New Ulm in Redwood County in a family business, and she’s no stranger when it comes to growing plants: She spent about 13 years in 4-H and the family business involved raising plants. She also possesses 20 years of experience as a florist, having worked at other floral shops in places from Brookings, South Dakota to the Twin Cities.
Heather attended South Dakota State University and obtained her degree in horticulture along with a minor in business.
She also has a full list of accomplishments: she completed the Beginner and Advanced Floral design classes from Koehler & Dramm Institute of Floristry in Minneapolis and a Sympathy Floral design class at the Teleflora Education Center in Oklahoma City. Heather is also the current President for Teleflora’s Minndakota Unit, which covers North & South Dakota and Minnesota; she’s moving from Chairperson on the New Ulm Business & Retail Association to the Chamber board; and is the current chairperson for the New Ulm Area Wedding Show.
“We have some expansion plans in the works, and once we decide what direction we will be going I plan to further my design skills by testing for the American Institute of Floral Designers. AIFD would be the letters behind my name.
“I think continuing your education, no matter what your field, is one of the keys to success,” she says.
What is the best part about your job?
The best part of my job is getting to know my customers and becoming a part of their lives! I just talked to one of my brides today whose wedding I did 3 years ago [and] she now has a little 1-year-old son and is pregnant with their second child due soon. I have a real opportunity to become their trusted florist and friend, especially because we live in a small rural community. Husbands can come and say, “This is my wife, what would she like?” or “Can you make her a bouquet that she will love?” I usually know these women and their styles.
What sets this floral shop apart from others?
We are not your typical small town floral shop!!! We offer excellent customer service to all our customers, on the phone and in person. Good customer service is hard to find these days, and we strive for excellence! We have unique gifts to our area. I lived in the Twin Cities Metro area and wanted to bring great, affordable items to women to treat themselves or a friend. Our floral designs are unique and we use locally grown product whenever possible, which means our flowers last up to 7 to 10 days longer. We are constantly attending classes and training to keep us in the know of what is cool and exciting!
Why should people who have weddings and special events come to A to Zinnia Floral & Gifts?
We are the BEST in the area. We can do it all from very small intimate events to large scale highly timed events. We are the best, yet we strive to work with any budget. We can get really creative. We had a golfing event that we did flowers for recently and we took golf shoes, put an argyle sock on a cylinder vase and put it in the shoe. It looked like a leg!!! Then we filled it with fresh flowers. The attendees thought this was hilarious!
Where did the name of the business come from?
When I was starting my business in the Twin Cities I choose the name Zinnia…I quickly realized I was at the end of the alphabet for any and all print listings. I needed to be at the top so I changed it to A2Zinnia Wedding and Events, then when I was opening a brick and mortar store I changed it to A to Zinnia Floral & Gifts!
What would you be doing if you weren’t working at A to Zinnia?
My mom tells me if my career in floral design doesn’t work out, I should go into radio! I like to record my own radio ads and I have a distinct voice.
What do you like best about New Ulm?
The energy in the business world! We have a lot of young business people that are really working hard to move New Ulm in the future.
What are your 3 favorite hobbies?
Really at this point in my life it is spending as much time with my family as possible. We have two little girls. Olivia is 7 and Violet is 5. I do work a lot so any spare time is dedicated to them.
Favorite television show?
I don’t watch much TV. I [did] really enjoy watching the [Olympics], and some of my favorite movies are the recent James Bond movies!
Siggi’s yogurt with Nuts for Chocolate Barnstormer Granola!
Did you ever envision yourself working at a floral & gift shop?
Yes. I grew up in a family business where we raised bedding plants, had greenhouses, landscaped and made fresh evergreen wreaths and roping and sold fresh Christmas Trees. I love the changing seasons that I experienced growing up and always wanted to work for myself. For the last 10 years before I opened the shop, I knew I would open my own store someday.
A to Zinnia is located at:
15 S Broadway Street
New Ulm, MN 56073
More information about shopping in New Ulm can be found here.