Maggie Southwick, an ’04 Lake City grad, takes great pride in knowing that she can help brighten someone’s day.
After all, she’s in the flower business.
And after what seems like a never-ending winter, who couldn’t use a flower or two?
For the last couple of years, Maggie has owned and managed Sweet Blooms in McBain. After spending much of her adult life working in the insurance industry, Maggie made the switch to something she’s truly passionate about. And she loves it.
We caught up with Maggie recently, where we learned a little bit about her story. We learned that Maggie Southwick is more than just another face in the crowd.
Marion Press: Where were you born and raised? What kept you busy growing up?
Maggie: Lake City. Horses, sports, the lake. The Tasty Treat, for sure! I graduated from Lake City in ’04. I had fun with friends; extra-curricular activities, working outside. Remember, we grew up in the day and age where flip phones were cool, so I didn’t have a phone until, maybe high school?
MP: Yeah, it seems like cell phones were just starting to make their way into the high schools back then.
Maggie: My dad worked for CenturyTel, so it seemed like we always had the coolest answering machine or the longest phone cord! He was the telephone man, right? But I remember the Nokia phone that you could get with the different faces on it. I can’t even remember – it seems like forever ago!
I met my husband in the high school rodeo – we rodeo’d with the state of Michigan. Adam was from McBain, and he was a bareback rider. And I did every event possible, because the more events you would do, the more scholarships that you could get. So we met, and that’s probably a big reason why I resided in McBain.
MP: How did Sweet Blooms come about?
Maggie: I remember the day. A friend of mine, her mom was getting married, and they were all at the hair salon, and she wanted a flower in her hair. I sew, I crochet, I knit… do you remember Odyssey of the Mind? You’d have these things in front of you; you had to take what was in front of you and you’d have to make the best possible situation and scenario out of it. So she wanted a pink rose, and I’m like, “Oh, my gosh, I think I have a pink rose somewhere.” Sure enough. I built a little rose, and she stuck it in her hair, and she thought it was the sweetest thing. And I loved being a part of that, but yet behind the curtain. I got to see her enjoy that beautiful day, and be a part of that.
I still did the insurance thing, but on the side, I would have friends say, “I’m doing a wedding, is there anyway that you could do the flowers?” And I just loved it.
MP: Tell us about Sweet Blooms. What all do you offer?
Maggie: As important as brides are when they’re sitting down with us and talking about their beautiful day, it’s just as important to us when a widow is grieving and putting together the last arrangement that she or he is putting together for their spouse or lost loved one. We take just as much care or sincerity with all aspects of life.
Whether it’s somebody looking for a succulent to put in their office, or it’s somebody looking for a plant to give them a little bit of green inside their house to help them get through this everlasting winter that we have… We do boutonnieres, we do corsages, we do anything that involves flowers. We also do preservation: For people that are putting together arrangements for a funeral, if the family wants to have those as a keepsake, we get the blooms back from the family and then we either press and dry them, or we put them in a certain material that helps keep the color and size and shape. We might frame it in double pane glass, and put a solder on the edge… there are a lot of different things that we do.
If somebody comes into the flower shop, and they only have $5, we will help them get the best arrangement that they can get for their budget. If we have someone come in and they want to spend $150 on an arrangement, we can do that too. But I never wanted to be that shop that couldn’t put together something that would be worth what they needed. At the end of the day, those little things really add up. And to be there for that person, and wanting to fulfill that need.
We’re open year-round – I get asked that a lot! We do annuals, and hanging baskets, and front porch planters. We do a lot of workshops, so if companies want to get their employees together and make a wreath, or do a succulent garden, or if ladies want to have a fun night, they’ll bring their front porch planters and we’ll put annuals in there. We do wreaths in the winter, and we do mums in the fall. I think it might be surprising to know that Valentine’s Day is not the busiest time of the year – it’s actually Mother’s Day weekend.
MP: What do you enjoy the most about your work?
Maggie: I enjoy that every single day there’s something different. Somebody celebrating a birthday. Somebody this morning was already in here – they dropped their kid off at school, and found out that the teacher had really had an awful morning – so they just said, “Maggie, I need to send an arrangement, when can you get it there?” It’s really something different every day.
Some days I look like I’m a lawn care business. I truly love mowing the lawn and using the weed whacker. I just enjoy being outside.
It has been so heartwarming, the people who stop, and they will grab something, and they’ll say, “Thank you so much.” And I’m like, “Oh, okay.” And they say, “No, thank you! McBain really needed a flower shop, it’s so nice to have this here.”
I really love the local support. And because we’re local now too, I go to the local Ace Hardware, I go to the local restaurant, I go to the local coffee shop. I really try to emphasize local. There are big box stores that definitely employ a lot of employees too, but when I need something, I truly appreciate just going a mile down the road and grabbing it.
MP: What keeps you busy in your free time? Are you and your husband still riding horses and doing the rodeo thing?
Maggie: You know what? It was kind of an expensive hobby! We’re so thankful for our parents – our parents worked so hard. But to answer your question, we’re not. We’re not into rodeo; sometimes I think it’s like riding a bike – I could get right back on. My husband is definitely not going to be hopping on a saddle bronc, or a bareback horse anytime soon! We have three little kids, they’re 10, 8, and 5. And our middle daughter does have a passion for horses – she’s been going to a stable where she rides twice a week. So they keep us busy. We’ve got one that’s really involved in travel soccer.
I think we’re your typical northern Michigan family – when it’s 52 degrees out, we’re outside with our t-shirts on, raking the lawn. We’ve got some beef cows – that was one of the things on our list, my husband always wanted some beef cows, so we checked that off – and hopefully they’re going to be having some calves here soon. I enjoy being busy. I enjoy being busy with the kids – it feels like free time. I love watching them; they’re only going to be this small for so long – and this is one of the reasons why we have Sweet Blooms: So I can be closer to them, too.
MP: What do you enjoy the most about being a part of the McBain community?
Maggie: The people. It really is the people. You see them at church; you see them at school. You know them. A lot of them are my friends. As a Lake City-an, I remember McBain being our rivals, right? But it feels like one community. Lake City was my home, and now this is my home. But we go to the lake, and we enjoy that. I guess, anything within an hour radius, I would consider that home. NMC went so far in their basketball season, and our kids don’t go to NMC, but I know so many of them. So we were at many of those games. The smaller community… they might not be my kids, but I know what having a child feels like, and I know, as a parent, watching those kids work so hard… Not only are you there for the kids, but you’re there for the parents – to show them that their kids are important, and that this is a special moment for them. Growing up in Lake City, my perception of community has definitely expanded beyond the city limits of that town. As an adult, you see that the world is bigger, and that we need those smaller communities that are connected to us to help us as well.