BUCKTOWN — Talk about pressure: Opening a new flower shop on the day before Valentine's Day.
But Benitz Ocasio, 32, was prepared.
The longtime florist spent six years arranging flowers for 1-800-Flowers Corp., working 12-hour plus days in a Melrose Park warehouse, before branching out on her own.
Ocasio opened Vased Flowers at 1200 W. 35th St. in the Bridgeport Art Center in 2011.
After a year or so in Bridgeport, a space much closer to Ocasio's home at 2121 N. Western Ave. became available, so she decided to move the shop, which she runs with help from her two sisters, two brothers-in-law and a cousin.
"My husband, he has another job, not in the business. We have enough family!" Ocasio said, without taking as much as a nanosecond to look up from a vase of roses she was quickly yet deftly arranging late Wednesday afternoon.
The bouquet was one of more than 200 orders Ocasio said she and her team needed to be filled in time for Valentine's Day Thursday.
A Bucktown mother of two young children, one of whom is a second-grader at Pulaski School in Bucktown, Ocasio said she didn't get much sleep trying to open the business Wednesday and fill holiday orders for Thursday.
"It's stressful when you are just trying to open, but it's very happy too."
The storefront studio offers full-service floral design for weddings and special occasions and sells a small selection of fresh flowers and house plants.
As an opening-week special, Vased is offering a dozen red roses for $50, plus a $13.99 delivery charge and tax. Orders can be made by calling 312-268-0005, or by stopping into the shop at Western and Shakespeare.
Valentine's orders will be accepted through 5 p.m. Thursday. The shop is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. weekends.