black florist fund

Congratulations to Taylor Amilas Bates, the first Black Florist Fund Grant recipient!

Chicago, IL – The Black Florist Fund (BFF), Asrai Garden, and the Association for Enterprise Opportunity (AEO) is pleased to announce Taylor Amilas Bates as the first recipient of a Black Florist Fund grant. Bates will be awarded $10,000 to use towards growing her small business, Dusk Lily Floral. The announcement was made official upon Bates’ acceptance of the grant on November 21, 2022.

BFF is an endeavor embarked upon in partnership with Asrai Garden, AEO, and a team of Black entrepreneur advisors. Through donations and sponsorships, BFF aims to provide worry-free capital grants and other crucial business resources to for-profit Black florists and Black flower farmers across the U.S.

“Taylor has a passion for florals and a unique approach to creating them.” Says Elizabeth Cronin, founder of Asrai Garden and judge on HBO’s Full Bloom. “She is eager to grow her business and carve out her space within this art form and it has been a total joy to watch her work her magic and begin what I know will be a long, successful career.”

“AEO is thrilled to partner with the Black Florist Fund to bring necessary capital to underserved floral businesses.” Says AEO President and CEO Connie E. Evans, “We are especially excited to see the Fund’s first grant recipient – Taylor Bates – be selected. It has always been our mission to increase racial equity by creating access to business funding for small and microbusinesses. Ms. Bates is a perfect example of the kind of microbusiness owner we continue to champion.”

Taylor Amilas Bates is a Chicago-based floral designer whose work has been featured in the New York Times Style Magazine and Timeout Chicago. Bates began her floral career at Asrai Garden beginning in 2018 where she was integral in the opening of Asrai Garden’s second location in the West Loop. As she developed her floral technique under the expert guidance of Elizabeth Cronin it was clear that Bates had her own creative and aesthetic vision to pursue.

She began her floral studio, Dusk Lily Floral, in 2019 with the aim to explore flowers through an abstract lens to create something fresh and timeless. Grant recipient Taylor Bates shares, “I plan on using the BFF grant to expand my business by investing in brand marketing, restocking on essential floral materials in bulk (such as packaging boxes, vases, wrapping paper etc.) I’m also hoping to purchase a new work laptop and rent out a work space for larger floral projects.”

The Black Florist Fund is holding an online raffle starting on Friday, November 25th and ending on December 3rd, 2022, on what the organization has deemed “Black Florist Friday”, to raise additional capital for future grants. Participants can help the Black Florist Fund raise funds while placing bids on one-of-a-kind Chicago experiences from iconic businesses and organizations like Lula Cafe, Longman and Eagle, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Butterfat Studios, and more. World-renowned jewelry designers such as Anna Sheffield, Dallas Maynard, Digby & Iona, and Rokosz will also contribute to the raffle.

Those who wish to donate directly to BFF to support Black florists and Black flower farmers can do so through AEO’s website, found here:

There are plans in 2023 for a future Floral Ball, which will take place at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago

About Asrai Garden

First established over 23 years ago, Asrai Garden was truly the first of its kind: a magical garden apothecary, that has long been encouraging and inspiring retail brands across the country, from Brooklyn to L.A., pushing the limits of what a “flower shop” can be. Helmed by the insatiably curious Elizabeth Cronin (judge on the HBO series “Full Bloom”), Asrai Garden has brought this refined eye to its clients since its inception, including Lady Gaga, Lana Del Rey, Louis Vuitton, Solange, Sophia Bush, Taraji P. Henson, and Virgil Abloh. A bold and dramatic floral and fine jewelry showroom that also offers a wide range of home and personal beauty products, Asrai Garden has long helped nurture the small businesses of local artisans by serving as a launchpad, mouthpiece and a showroom for niche brands to become more widely known, and cherished.

About AEO

Since 1991, AEO and its member and partner organizations have helped millions of entrepreneurs contribute to economic growth while supporting themselves, their families and their communities. AEO’s more than 1,700 members and partners include a broad range of organizations that provide capital and services to assist underserved entrepreneurs in starting, stabilizing and expanding their businesses. Together, they are working to change the way capital and services flow to underserved entrepreneurs so that they can create jobs and opportunities for all.