Growing up in Norwalk and Monroe, Candi (Lord) Milliard’s parents were always involved in planting and gardening. When she got to high school, she began working at in Trumbull where she found her true calling.
One day the nursery needed help in its florist shop and Candi filled in, immediately realizing her passion for designing, drawn especially to creating floral arrangements for weddings.
After working for The Flower Box in Trumbull and the Village Flower Shop in New Canaan, Candi–who had met her husband and moved to North Branford (naturally she did her own flowers!)–decided to go out on her own, opening Candi’s Floral Creations.
North Branford Patch: How did you decide to start your own business and what direction it would take?
Milliard: I learned as much as I could from people in the industry while I worked in lower Fairfield County for most of my career in a mom-and-pop flower shop. When I felt I was able to go on my own, that’s what I did. I knew I didn’t want to own a flower shop–it was the weddings, the planning, the details and working with the bride and groom that really excited me.
North Branford Patch: So wedding flowers go beyond bouquets, corsages and floral centerpieces?
Milliard: Absolutely! I’m really drawn to colors, textures, design, styles and was very creative as a kid. It’s a whole big deal. I actually help my clients with part of their wedding planning–I can help plan their color scheme, help choose linen color and bridesmaid dress color. My clients come to me for a theme that could take two or three hours to set up. I’ll also help with favors or the seating cards so their themed wedding comes full circle and there’s a little hint of the theme and the couple’s personality everywhere you look.
North Branford Patch: What’s an example of a theme you have created?
Milliard: I did an enchanted forest theme where I built trees and had moss. Sometimes the flowers are an accent to the decorations. While I do a lot of themes, there are still traditional girls who want roses, peonies and hydrangeas, which I also love.
North Branford Patch: What has been your most memorable event?
Milliard: I have had the opportunity to design a lot of high-end weddings and events, but I had a wedding featured in Martha Steward Weddings magazine so that was probably the most memorable. The couple, Andrew and Jeremy, had an Americana vintage theme and had collected a lot of pieces from tag sales and antique shops that I used to create a different theme for every table.
North Branford Patch: What are your favorite flowers?
Milliard: Oh, there are so many. I’d have to say I have favorites by season. In the spring, I love all the bulb flowers; in the summer, I love all the orchids; in the fall, I love the natural elements–I use a lot of natural elements in my fall rustic weddings; and in the winter, I like everything to be white and silver and use a lot of crystals.
North Branford Patch: What do you enjoy the most about your job?
Milliard: My favorite part is definitely bringing my clients’ vision to reality. They come to me with so many ideas and they’re not sure how to execute it and that’s why they hire me. I go above and beyond what they ever thought was possible.
North Branford Patch: How has your business grown over the years?
Milliard: I opened in North Branford 15 years ago out of my home and then five years ago, I moved into storefront. With so many rentals–the arches, trees, vases and more–I’m able to have a design showroom so you can see the possibilities. I do about 60 weddings a year and it has changed over the years so that October is now the busiest month for weddings. June is still busy but last year I did 20 in October.
North Branford Patch: What do you enjoy most about doing business in North Branford?
Milliard: I love the people in the shops around me. It’s like a family with everyone helping everybody. Plus, being the only wedding florist in actually helped me get a leg up as well, though I go all over state, plus to New York, Rhode Island and Massachusetts.
North Branford Patch: What do you like to do outside of work?
Milliard: I like to be active because I don’t know how to relax. I love to be outdoors–on the beach, though I’m a snow-bunny at heart so love to snowmobile in the winter. I like to garden and spend time with my husband and our two dogs.