Having beautiful flowers around can brighten any room – or spirit. Coming to your rescue with their signature style flowers or décor are the dynamic duo of BJ Dyer and Guenther Vogt owners of Bouquets. They have also emerged as one of the “floral designers of choice” for many nonprofit events in Denver.
With the motto of “ever the innovator, never the imitator,” Bouquets has grown from it’s first store in 1985 on East Sixth Avenue to three locations in LoDo, Beaver Creek, and the latest opening in the Belmar Center in Lakewood.
With their personalized service, their work is anything but ordinary. BJ and Guenther put their creativity into every innovative arrangement they touch. The talented team at Bouquet’s will help you decide what’s just right for you or your event. As BJ Dyer says, “Success to us means offering unparalleled service and surprising our clientele, our competition – even ourselves!”
What’s your favorite flower? Guenther: The Calla Lilly. BJ: Saraenia (the flower that eats bugs).
What type of personality does it take to be in the floral/décor business? BJ: You need to have a tremendous amount of patience. Be a “jack of all trades.” Everyday is different; there are never two days alike. One day you fix computers or reconfigure telephones. Or one day someone walks in who just got off the Orient Express on the Zephyr at Union Station and wants $300 worth of fresh cut flowers to put on the train, so you need to have a broad range of experiences, everything from being computer savvy, to marketing savvy, to customer friendly, to taking an order and putting it together right.
When you were a little boy, what did you say you wanted to be when you grew up? BJ: I thought I was going to be in Politics. Guenther: I thought I’d be an Architect or Civil Engineer.
What is an “aha” experience in your life that helped make you the kind of person you are today? Guenther: Recognizing the fact that things can be unstructured in the world. BJ: In high school in Montana in our rural community, I was selected to represent Montana at a Boys Nation Conference in Washington, D.C. In terms of becoming aware of the whole world out there, that was my “aha” moment.
What do you consider your proudest achievement? Guenther: Being successful in business and having the foresight to travel and see a lot of the world so far. Being able to travel and come back, and find out that your business is still here! BJ: Getting inducted into the AIFD (The American Institute of Floral Designers). It’s an extremely difficult organization to get in to.
What charitable organization are you most involved with? BJ: My favorite charity is Project Angel Heart. I’m the upcoming President of the Board. I believe in their mission. It’s a well-run organization that is very respectful of the resources the community gives them in terms of money and time. Guenther: There are so many wonderful causes out there that we have been involved with. I’m also involved with the Parks & Recreation Department and have been a member of their Board for about 20 years. There are many others I want to still get involved with. I also want to do more with Project Angel Heart.
How do we get more people involved in charitable giving and volunteering? BJ: The key to that is have your children get involved, because when it’s established in your life when you are young, it becomes a habit for the rest of your life. At Project Angel Heart, we have a number of volunteers who bring their kids with them to deliver meals, and come in and help us cook, and the kids do artwork on the packaging – those kids are going to grow into philanthropists.
Guenther: Too many nonprofits have institutionalized themselves, and sometimes that’s part of the barrier that keeps people from getting interested in helping and volunteering. This tends to keep young adults out of the organization. The organizations will need to change their attitudes somewhat and think more about the future of the non-profit. Money is tight everywhere, especially with nonprofits. Sometimes also the organizations find themselves competing against each other rather than working with each other for a common cause.
Which one word describes you best? Guenther: Confident. BJ: Curious.
What word would others use to describe you? Guenther: Strict but fair. BJ: Multi-layered.
What is the best advice anyone ever gave you? Guenther: Accept the challenges you are taking on and be willing to make sacrifices. Work hard and perform, and you will reap the benefits. Also, make sure you take some time off for yourself. BJ: Choose the things you can do well and really do them well, and give up the rest of it.
What do you love most about living in Colorado? Guenther: Of course everyone says the climate. I like the location of Colorado within the United States. It’s also manageable from a socio-economic standpoint, and it’s also easy to get out of Denver to go anywhere. BJ: I like the size of the pond, the tier of the city we are in. I love to visit the big cities, but I wouldn’t want to live in a small town. I think we have the perfect blend of sophistication and small town values.
How has the floral business changed since you first opened Bouquets? Guenther: In 1985 we opened the business on 6th & Fillmore and then expanded to our 13th Street location. The biggest change came with the attrition of the florists in Downtown Denver right after the oil bust in the 80’s. Although florists were leaving the area, we wanted to establish a business in downtown – primarily in LoDo, which was just starting to get hot. The consumer is much more educated now, and we are getting flowers in from all over the world. It’s gone away from the wholesaler, and we can buy direct now from growers all over the world. A grower in California can get the flowers on a refrigerated truck, and to us within two days, and no one touches it in between.
BJ: We’ve seen a lot of changes. The customer is much more sophisticated now, they know more about flowers. They want a very specific type of floral arrangement, and they will find the florist who will give them that look.
Bouquets’ has become very successful through the years; what do you attribute your success to? BJ: The quality of our products and our customer service. I think Bouquets produces what Guether and I like, and as a result of that, people know what they are going to get. Guenther and I want quality, and taste, and sophistication. Guenther: And great service! BJ: Because of that, Guenther and I have developed a legion of customers who know what they are going to get from us. Guenther: Our customers definitely know what they are going to get: good quality, good service - at a good price. We have a no questions asked policy. If something is wrong with an arrangement, we will fix it or change it - whatever is necessary to make the customer happy. We really work hard to satisfy our customer, and run our business like the old kind of retail establishment.
When you outgrew your first location, and thought about the future of the business and where you wanted to take it; do you think you have gotten there? BJ: It’s a journey, not a destination. Guenther: Right. BJ: So we are always watching for the next thing we can do to improve the business, always traveling, reading, and researching what’s changing in the business. We have become known nationally as a floral trendsetter. Other florists watch us to see what we are doing, so we have a lot of responsibility to keep it fresh and keep the looks new. I think that once we start to feel like we have arrived, it would be the start of the end. I don’t ever want to feel like we have gotten there. The feeling that we are always striving to be better has been what’s kept Bouquets successful through the years.
Guenther: We are both very active nationally and involved with the floral organizations such as the National Society of American Florists and the American Institute of Floral Design. We travel at least two or three times a year to national conferences, and we take our local information to the organizations, and we come back with new ideas and techniques that we find other people doing. It is a good way for us to get the floral exchange that the industry needs to keep up with what’s going on. We are also good about sharing information with other florists locally. We want florists in Colorado to be successful because that’s good for the industry and for everyone. We don’t tell anyone that it’s privileged information. We share with others as much as we can to help them be better in the industry. BJ: We take other florists copying what we are doing as a compliment, because by the time they have copied what we are doing, we have moved on to something else.
What is the best part about being in your business? BJ: Taking time to smell the flowers. When I do take time, I try to remember that we aren’t selling widgets, we are selling nature’s most beautiful product. Guenther: I agree, also, I like the diversity and that every day is different, and that customers are different. Also we have established a very loyal following of people who don’t hesitate to call and ask for BJ or Guenther. It’s very personalized and that aspect of the business is good.
What is the most challenging? Guenther: You are asked to perform sometimes instantaneously. So much has been done in the floral event industry, it can be hard to keep it fresh all the time, but we make sure we do. We try not to argue; instead we call it “Creative Conflict.” We bounce ideas off of each other. BJ: Our business is much stronger because of us doing it this way.
If you could have your pick of anyone in the world jumping out of your birthday cake, who would it be? Guenther: George Clooney. He has a lot of mass appeal for everyone. BJ: The first person I thought of was to have Gandhi come out of the cake; that would give me a big smile. Gandhi coming out of a big fattening cake would be cool.
What is something you would still like to learn to do – like play an instrument, learn a certain language – skydive? Guenther: Be more musically adept. I would probably play the piano if I took up an instrument. I’d also like to improve my skills in the arts, to do things with my hands like painting, sculpture, anything creative. My other big interest is writing. I’d love to write a series of books someday. BJ: Become a better photographer.
Describe your dream get-away, and when do you plan on taking it? BJ: There is a ship out there that’s like a cruise ship, and you buy a condo on it, and you just live on the ship as it travels around the world and hits amazing ports of call. The people on the ship, that’s their permanent residence. I think that sounds kind of fascinating to me because they have a community on the ship, and they are always their neighbors. They get to know their neighbors, and yet they are still always traveling. It’s a cool, but expensive concept. Guenther: I’d like to be part of that! My dreams have always been sort of “Tahitianesque.” A place that is very subdued and quiet and away from the maddening crowd is something that I would enjoy.
How do you want to be remembered? BJ: That I was a giving person. Not just generous, but giving of time and knowledge. I want people to remember that they learned a lot of good things about life from me. Guenther: I just want to be remembered as a nice guy and a good neighbor. If everyone acted that way in this world, we’d all be better off.
Awards and Recognitions: Floral Management Magazine’s “2002 Marketer of the Year.” “Best in Denver” and “Best in Colorado” from many local publications. America’s “Top 10 Florist Award” from Bon Appetit Magazine. American Floral Services named Bouquets one of the “Top 125 Floral Boutiques” in the U.S. The Denver Ad Federation’s “Grand Alfie Award.” National First Runner Up “Retail Florist of the Year” by Florists Review Magazine in 2003 and 2004. Rocky Mountain Horticulture Expo “Best of Show” Gold Medal Award.