Amanda Forgash, the botanical artist behind PetalPushr, found success during the pandemic with her dried floral displays. Credit: Jacob Hand Photography

HUMBOLDT PARK — Like many entrepreneurs, Amanda Forgash has had to overhaul her business in the past two years.

Forgash was creating fresh floral designs for weddings when the pandemic hit, bringing the event industry to a standstill and cutting Forgash’s client base. Quarantining also meant losing access to the industrial equipment she needed to keep her flowers watered.

That inspired the idea behind PetalPushr, Forgash’s company. She creates floral arrangements and sculptures using dried plants instead of the fresh ones she typically used for weddings.

“I had to think about how I could make this work for me,” Forgash said. “It is such a shame that after you create something artful with floral, with fresh floral, it’s gone in a week. So I wanted something that had longevity and could be used in more of a permanent art installation and sculptural piece. So I started working with dried florals.”

Forgash’s mother and grandmother taught her about flower types as she grew up, and she developed a strong knowledge in plant identification.

She started in the business after college, leaving her office job at a startup company to work one day a week at a retail florist.

“I was drawn to the aspect of it being hands on and on my feet and artful outside a cubicle setting,” Forgash said. “I think that was a big draw. I also come from a family of gardeners, and I’ve always been a really big nature lover.”

Forgash launched PetalPushr in December and has found significant support in community Facebook groups, especially those based in Humboldt Park and Logan Square. People from those groups were some of her first customers.

“I just joined every community group I could and sort of made soft pushes there like, ‘Hey, I’m a local botanical artist, I’m selling these wreaths for the holidays,’ and I got a lot of interest that way,” Forgash said.

With Forgash’s business doing well, she is thinking about how to continue developing her skills.

“I definitely think getting more involved with art shows is a great way for exposure and also to really frame my floral design structural pieces as art, because I do consider them art versus just like an everyday arrangement,” Forgash said.

“So maybe more art gallery [showings] would be helpful. I think, eventually, I’m going to need a bigger space. So I definitely need to, you know, expand literally. … I’d love to work on a bit larger of a scale.”

Forgash would also like to do more collaborations with local artists and use newer, different materials. Ultimately, though, she’d like to work for herself as an artist and eliminate the need to work for others. For the moment, she is balancing PetalPushr with freelance floral design for weddings.

“The main goal is to be able to do this” full time, she said. “I wouldn’t say it’s a side hustle for me, because it’s definitely way more than that.”

Those interested in supporting or purchasing Forgash’s art can do so on her website.

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