The name Heier Designs has been an integral part of community life here in the southeast. And all that is about to change.
Floral designer Wendy Heier has announced her retirement from the industry, but not from community life. In fact, far from it. She reflects on her journey.
“It has been an awesome 28 years in the industry. I was so lucky to land when Mr. Penner had Penner Foods! I went into the floral department and had some spectacular training, my foundation was set there – it was an amazing place to work. I then jumped into what became IGA, followed by the floral management position for Safeway. At that point I realized I could really do this, so I stepped out on my own.”
Stepping out on her own as a small business owner was filled with hectic days, Heier reveals.
“I was in the mall in that back little corner space, 365 square feet! My shifts were 8:00 AM until 9:00 PM – and I did that for five years. I was exceptionally cautious. I put my head down and just took it as it came. They say the first five years set the tone for the rest of it, so it was a few years before I started hiring employees, and it just kind of grew from there!”
Their 365-square-foot-space in Clearspring Centre could not contain Heier’s rapidly growing floral business, however. With space being an issue, the small business moved to the corner of Main and Brandt in Steinbach, serving the community out of that location for another decade.
“It's a blur,” confesses Heier. “At that point I wanted to have a little bit of fun and experiment, so we moved to the mobile unit, and what a great adventure that was! It was a lot of fun.”
Heier says that throughout her career, her mission has simply been to be a part of people’s lives.
“With getting to know different people came different designs based on what they wanted and needed,” shares Heier. “If they were open to something different we’d do that, and if not, we’d stay steadfast and traditional. Those variables were so very enjoyable because it was new every time!”
Reflecting on the highlights from the past 28 years, Heier says she feels so blessed to have been part of these important moments. Often Heier Designs would create floral arrangements for generations of family weddings.
“I feel really lucky. It was just very personal,” says Heier. “One bride in particular gave me my ultimate wedding career moment. We were in the middle of a field, there were hundreds of people, just over-the-top floral. We had a full crew out there with three vehicles going back and forth bringing out flowers, and it was just magical. Incredible. I will never forget that.”
Any small business owner will tell you there are also many challenges that come with the territory, that the general public just never sees. Heier reveals that for her, the greatest challenge was keeping her hours under control.
“Often I’d start between midnight and 3:00 AM, and would run until 4:00 or 6:00 PM. Then Sundays I’d be on-call with funeral service and delivery. On Saturdays I had maybe three hours to myself. But truly, just to be in service like that, looking after people in that way, filled me with joy.”
At this point in her career, Heier says she is pleased and thankful for the time she’s been able to spend serving the community.
What’s next for Wendy Heier?
“I'm excited for the next leg of the journey!” she says. “Now is my time to keep trucking and finish my counseling degree and continue my Young Riders program. We’re heading into our second summer with 17 horses in service, working with children, building their confidence.”
Heier says she’s looking forward to continuing her work in hosting ROC Eastman’s Family Fun Days on the Farm.
“We have kids working with mini horses all the way up to large horses, teaching them horse care and what it takes to care for those animals. Collecting eggs, feeding chickens, and just learning where their food comes from.”
Heier notes that anyone who has gotten to know her over the past few years has seen her passion shift in this way – still with a theme of organic growth and helping people, but in a new way.
“I'm on fire. We’re growing the Young Riders program and it's so exciting to be contributing to the community by being involved with children and their families!”
Aspiring florists and businesspeople may wonder if there’s an opportunity to build on the Heier Designs business name, but Heier says this name will retire with her.
“Being my last name, Heier Designs is going to end. I can't imagine having that name continue without me. To go out on a high note is the best way to go and I'm so pleased about that.”
Heier has one last message for everyone who has known and loved Heier Designs over the past few decades.
“I want to thank everybody that’s become my friends and my family over this period of time. It’s so invaluable. Just know that I haven't disappeared. You are still my friends and family. Thank you everybody, for the amazing experiences that I've had. You're all awesome!”