A few days ago, we “sat down” (via email) with Carly Cylinder, the author of The Flower Chef and the “Julia” to our Julie-and-Julia-inspired project. As if her floral designs weren’t already inspiring enough, Carly’s passion for her work and the amazing projects she’s worked on are truly phenomenal! She has worked on “recipes” for Beyonce, Nicki Minaj, and several huge corporate events – and despite her success, she still manages to maintain a sweet, bubbly, down-to-earth demeanor. It has truly been a pleasure getting to know Carly through this project, and now it’s time to share the wealth with you!
Who in your life most inspires you with your work?
This is a great question! The designers I work with because they know some tricks that I don’t know and we all learn from each other. Even the students I teach because sometimes they’ll pick flower and color combinations I would’ve never thought of.
What keeps you driven to learn more about your trade?
I’m a businessperson so I want to know what people like and why. Which activities do people want? Flower crowns are still super popular for birthdays and corporate occasions.
When did you discover that you wanted to become a floral designer?
I knew I wanted to own a business and decided on flowers because they’re so nice to be around. I didn’t know I could design until I realized we were in a recession back in 2008/2009 and out of necessity if I wanted to start a floral design business, I’d have to be the designer!
What is your favorite flower, and why?
I have so many depending on the season. I love sweet peas for their simplicity. I love dahlias and ranunculus because they make any arrangement look rich and lush. I tend to use those two flowers all of the time with roses.
Which “Recipe” from The Flower Chef is your favorite?
Calm and Collected because I love anything jungle-ish. It’s super easy to make and looks beautiful in any type of house.
& a few more just for fun…
What is your go-to music to listen to while you create arrangements?
It’s basically my boyfriend’s worst playlist ever haha. I love country and showtunes! Specifically 90s country with a mix of old Taylor Swift and Rent and Wicked.
What are some of your methods for conquering stage fright before speaking engagements?
It just takes a lot of practice. What really has helped me is right before I go on, pulling my shoulders back in sort of a Superman/Wonder Woman stance and smiling. If I’m smiling as I enter the stage it’s going to be great. And I always start with an enthusiastic “Happy Monday!” Or, “Hello New Orleans!,” wherever I am or whatever day it is. It gets people to smile.
NY or LA: Which do you prefer and why?
I love working in NYC because it’s easier! The studio is right in the flower district. The vendors deliver to the studio and the driver loads up and sets up! You really can’t beat the convenience and ambiance. I like living in LA better because of the weather, but the traffic still gets me 15 years later!
Many chefs will admit that they don’t eat very well at home. How often do you “Cook” arrangements for yourself?
Yes! I am one of those too. I only have flowers when we have leftovers from events. I will usually make very simple arrangements and stick to one type of flower.
What is the best project you’ve ever worked on? What made it your favorite?
There are too many to list! I really don’t have a favorite. Maybe the first year I started out, my first assistant and I did Nicki Minaj’s letters for her trailer on a music video set. We had such an adventure and so many laughs.
Thanks to Carly for taking the time to chat with us for this interview! If you haven’t already, be sure to grab a copy of The Flower Chef so you can follow along with our adventures in floral arranging, and stay tuned for our next arrangement post – coming soon!