True Grinnellian: Cynthia Sherman

True Grinnellian - Jenny Chi

Photo by Jenny Chi

Cynthia Sherman, half of Bates Flowers by DZyne.

Jenny Chi

chijenny17@grinnell.edu

Cynthia Sherman, one half of Bates Flowers by DZyne, alongside Jim White, has been an influential supplier of Grinnell’s decorative and floral needs for over 20 years. However, Sherman’s talents are never just limited to Iowa—over the last six years Sherman has worked as a florist for the New Year’s Rose Parade in Pasadena, Calif.

In order to become a contracted florist for Fiesta Parade Floats, a company that is involved in the Pasadena Tournament of Roses, Sherman had to work as a volunteer first.

“You have to get invited to be volunteer first, and since I was on the Iowa Florists’ Association board of directors, we knew someone that worked for them … Four of us went out and after you work as a volunteer, they evaluate you and see if you work well with others,” Sherman explained.

Fiesta Parade Floats’ decision to invite Sherman back each year has certainly paid off — every float Sherman has worked on for the Rose Parade each year has won an award.

“Last year I worked on the Torrance, Calif. float. It was a small float, there were three of us who did all the floral designs on it, and it was the Louis Zamperini float [who grew up in Torrance] … The year before that I worked with The Lucy Pet Foundation … every time it’s fun, it’s different,” Sherman said.

Sherman explained that the process of putting together the float is extremely well-organized.

“They tell us all the flowers we need to use … we just have to make sure we get the right product in the right place,” she said.

Sherman’s journey in becoming a florist started when she opened Village Decorating in Grinnell.

After selling her decorating shop, she briefly ran a frame store before she opened Wayside Florist, later renamed Flowers on Fourth. In order to effectively run her floral shop, Sherman trained at a floral school in Cincinnati. She oversaw Flowers on Fourth for over 20 years before she eventually sold it and purchased Bates Flowers, which she now runs with Jim White under the new store name.

Having had an extensive career as a florist, Sherman, who served as a past president of the Iowa Florists’ Association board of directors, noted that her real passion in being a florist is the educational aspect of it. The Iowa Florists’ Association holds classes so that individuals can become registered as an Iowa Master Florist.

“The education of florists is really important to me … this summer I went to Denver and tested and became a certified floral designer … you just have to keep learning. And everything changes in this business, it’s just so fun, all the new trends and techniques.”

When she’s not overseeing her booming business, Sherman enjoys serving her community and spending time with her family, many of whom are also based in Grinnell.

“I’ve been on several boards, I just went off the Chamber [of Commerce] board. I’ve been on the board for St. Francis Manor and Seeland Park, [and] I’m a hospice volunteer and on the hospice board. I have 11 grandchildren, and my son-in-law and daughter have the Prairie Canary restaurant. My other son lives in Grinnell and works for JELD-WEN [windows and doors supplier], and I have another one in Iowa City.” Sherman said. 

Sherman explained that the versatility of her floral service is just one of the reasons why she loves her career:

“[We] just do the best service for our community. We just kind of have people from birth to death; it’s all [about taking] care of people.”