When you walk into Manny’s Flower Design at Northlake Flowers, one of the first things you see is a large altar with images of Our Lady of Guadalupe, St. Joseph and other saints. You also see colorful and elaborate floral displays along with lots of fluffy teddy bears. Faith and flowers are the two most important things in owner Manny Buenrostro’s life. “This is my favorite part,” said Manny of the altar during a recent interview at his shop. “I made it the focal point of my store. I want to show off how beautiful God has been in my life.” Manny, known throughout the community by his first name, said God brought him to his ministry through flowers. “It’s my favorite thing in the world to make everyone smile. You can do that with flowers, with just a little teddy bear,” Manny said. Like most florists, Manny makes arrangements for weddings and other special events and also handles orders for holidays and birthdays. Unlike many other florists, he adds a little love of Jesus and evangelization into each arrangement. When Manny started his business 10 years ago, he had no professional training, just some natural talent. Tired of life in corporate America, he decided to open his own shop in retail space owned by a friend. “It’s been the best blessing that I’ve gotten and that the Virgin Mary has given to me,” said Manny, 35. He shadowed some florists before he opened and continues to teach himself and test his creative limits, which gravitate toward the bold. “The bigger the better. The brighter the better,” said Manny, who was born on the feast of St. Francis, Oct. 4. He credits his grandmother and her love of roses with his vocation as a florist. Manny was born in Chicago and moved to Mexico with his siblings at age 2. His grandmother raised him and his seven siblings in Mexico. She loved roses, which filled her patio garden and bloomed year round. Manny spent as much time as he could with her in her garden. “I always remembered how much love and care she would give to the flowers,” he said. While Manny was raised in the faith, like many young adults he abandoned it during college. It wasn’t until two years after he opened his shop and started making flower arrangements for the local parish, St. John Vianney, that he had a conversion. A parish volunteer named Donna Rosa took an interest in him, praying and prodding him back to his faith. He calls her his guardian angel. “Thanks to her I found the love of God again and the love of the Blessed Mother again,” he said. “My religion is number one now.” Manny even does a little evangelization when working with couples who come to him for their wedding flowers.