Welcome to Chicago North Shore Moms Local Nonprofit Series, where we highlight and introduce a local nonprofit’s inception and mission. This series is sponsored by the lovely, bright and colorful Katie Ford, founder of Flowers By Katie. So, you can imagine that when she reached out asking for help to promote her upcoming mental health symposium called, “Let’s Break the Stigma” we jumped right on it! The event is FREE, open to all, and will be held on Wednesday, October 6, 2021 from 6:30-8:30pm at John and Nancy Hughes Theater at Gorton Community Center in Lake Forest. CNSMoms had the distinct pleasure of chatting with Katie about how she became involved in this annual event, and how her flourishing floral design business is rooted in mental health awareness.
Hi Katie! Please introduce yourself.
My name is Katie Ford. I grew up in Scranton, Pennsylvania. I now live in Lake Forest Illinois with my husband and four awesome children. I am a Mental Health Advocate, lululemon Legacy Ambassador, and owner of Flowers by Katie Ford.
Tell us about the upcoming event that you are hosting, “Let’s Break the Stigma.”
On October 6th from 6:30-8:30pm, I will be hosting the 2nd annual Mental Health Panel event called “Let’s Break the Stigma” in honor of World Mental Health Day, which is October 10th. The event is at the John and Nancy Hughes Theater at Gorton Community Center in Lake Forest (400 East Illinois Road, LF). lululemon North Shore is supporting me in my efforts.
What is your mission, vision and purpose of the event?
The purpose and mission of “Let’s Break the Stigma” event is to spread awareness about mental health through conversation and sharing. There is a lot of work to be done when it comes to breaking the stigma that goes along with Mental Illness. Those who suffer should not feel shame or embarrassment. This panel event is to bring more information and light on the subject of mental health.
What nonprofits and speakers are involved in this the “Let’s Break the Stigma” event?
I am so proud to host the following local nonprofits and speakers at the event on October 6th:
Erika’s Lighthouse, Elizabeth Lombardo, Paws for Patrick, Maria Malin Coaching, OFFBeat Apparel, Forest Bluff Counseling, and NAMI Lake County Illinois
What is the impetus behind why you have put together the “Let’s Break the Stigma” event?
I suffered a debilitating mental illness seven years ago.
While it’s better, I will have it forever.
In the beginning, it was terrifying.
It took me two years to share my story with people on a social media platform. The feedback and responses from people who also suffered was AMAZING. I felt that I needed to do more.
I also lost a beloved brother to suicide 15 years ago this month. He would have been 58 years old.
Katie, thank you for sharing your very personal story.
Poet Edwin Curran said, “Flowers are the music to the ground. From earth’s lips spoken without sound.” Tell us how your profession in floral design ties into this volunteer work?
I found my way to flowers and my floral business through my battle with mental illness. I had to slow down life, take care of myself, and do something that brought me joy. FLOWERS. I never in my wildest dreams would have thought that it would turn into the successful business it is today,
What is the most rewarding aspect of being a part of the “Let’s Break the Stigma” event?
It is a DREAM COME TRUE for me to be able to bring an AMAZING group of professionals and mental health warriors together for the second time. Creating a forum where people talk openly about mental health, share personal stories with others, and also give much needed information about organizations that can help…it makes my heart sing!
What’s one thing you really want people to know about this event?
The “Let’s Break the Stigma” event is FREE and open the public! Everyone is welcome. You can be a silent audience member or you can ask as many questions as you’d like to the panel members.
Who would you like to thank for making the formation and success of this event possible and why?
I’d first like to thank each and every one of the extraordinary panel members. Secondly, my husband and kids. My friends who have stood by me during my darkest days, and lululemon North Shore for their support and involvement.
If our readers need help, what is the best way to reach out to you and/or get more “Let’s Break the Stigma” event details.
Please email me at [email protected] or follow me on Instagram @flowersbykatieford
And how do our readers contribute or volunteer their time to your cause?
Donations can be made to: www.erikaslighthouse.org
What’s next for your floral design business, Flowers by Katie Ford?
I’d love to do more floral workshops and intertwine mental health therapy and advocacy for my floral work and jobs!