Your Local Girl Gang with florist Candice Mills
What is Flora & Forage?
Flora & Forage is a floral design studio that focus’ on local grown, garden sown and also flown in flowers / product to create magical weddings, events and every day floral needs that evoke emotion, consider the environment and provide inspiration. We strive hard to use as much local love as we can so you can find us foraging in the bush or at the side of a road quite often. We understand that seasonally not everything we want is available so we will order product in from all around the world to fulfill the designs that we customize for our brides, clients and customers.
How did Flora & Forage start?
There were two moments in the last three years that made me decide to launch ff. The first is when I met my first official bride at my sisters 25th birthday. The second is after I had a super intense wedding week at a flower shop I was working at in Toronto. First - long story short, I had built a flower crown for my sister on her birthday. One of her friends that was there saw it and was instantly in love and wanted us to do her wedding. It was the first time I had someone full trust in designing a wedding with out any one else to over look the final look. Melissa was a dream first bride and basically let my imagination run wild. It was epic and I learned a lot; my sister is a fricking power house, the body can withstand going for a restroom break for about 10 hours if ones mind is occupied enough, and also how to price my designs a bit better.
—> please see Melissa & Elliots wedding on our website for the pics of our first wedding <—
The second moment in my life was, again long story short, after a 5 wedding week on my own with a team of 3 other designers. I planned it, made sure the team stayed on task and had the boss, after her vacation in Florida, shocked she didn’t have to stay late to finish the stuff we “ didn’t do”. It was all of this, and much more to be honest, that made me realize, I had booked 40+ weddings for her that year and had handled this + that… again and again. I figured it was time that I could do this on my own.
Who is one of your female role models & why?
One of my female role models would be my first floral lady boss Wanda with wildflowers in Calgary. She has been in the industry for 25+ years and is the literal definition of a lady boss. She can weld, she can design, she’s owned her own biz for 35+ years and she has always been herself around me and allowed me to be me around her. If it wasn’t for Wanda giving me a chance without any experience, I wouldn’t be where I am today. She taught me the basic mechanics of everything flowers. Their names, large to small bloom placement and how to properly care and cut the flowers so they lasted as long as they could. Our designing is very different today but I will always be thankful for the chance Wanda gave me as it was everything I needed to get me where I am. She supported me through a drug addiction, rough relationship and the loss of a very close friend. Wanda was the first woman to show me you only need yourself to get through the problems of life. Watching her raise a child on her own, on her own decision to have one out of wed lock and out of relationship, showed me a strength in a woman I had never seen before.
What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
I literally second guess everything and have an out of body experience after a major design. I live on a high afterwards that almost makes me feel like I didn’t even do the wedding or installation. Its insane. I actually don’t have the vocabulary to express how it feels but 90% of the time I’m telling myself “ you cant do this, you wont do this, the flowers are dying, your business is failing ..Etc etc..” and then its done and I go.. “ wow, ok, I’m amazing “ it doesn’t sink in like it should and I know its a horrible spiral. Silly, but I can’t help it.
What is your favourite flower?
Thats literally the hardest question ever. Truly. Just when I think “ you’re the one “ something else comes along and I’m like ooooooooooooooo, if I had to choose…. I couldn’t. I have like a top 10 that is constantly changing when I discover new flowers, grasses and greens.
What should every woman try at least once in her life?
To be creative. In any way. I read a book called “ women who run with the wolves” and she speaks of the creative life vs. The “ stuck “ life, a life thats full of expectations and supposed to not what you want and how you feel. I am soooo lucky to be in an industry that not only is creative but supportive of women entrepreneurs that I think if you are able to align yourself with the same career, hobby, passion or what ever you can that allows you to express your true self, then you wlll never loose your wild ways.
What does it mean to you to be a woman?
This is one of the hardest questions I have been asked. Its actually taken me a few times to answer it. I have had a love hate relationship with being a woman my whole life because of toxic / abusive relationships, social media pressures and my own personal insecurities. I hate my period, I hate my hairy legs, and lets be honest, who has time to wax their moustache every week. If I am being honest, the most I have loved myself has been in the last 4 years. After finding strength in myself to get out of the relationships I thought I deserved, away from the drugs I thought I needed to pursue a career that changed my life, I learned that being a women is one of the most powerful, resilient, beautiful things in this world. I have learned that the lessons I was put through made me the honest, loving, creative and kind woman I am today. A woman that puts her heart into everything she does without fear of failure. A woman who can admit when she is wrong and needs to retreat and repair. A women who is in touch with her wild ways and is in love with her being. Finally.
I also have to thank my fiancé, adrian rende, for allowing me to continue to grow and support the woman I am. When someone finds someone who lets them be their true self at all times and loves them no matter what.. Its one of the most empowering feelings to be loved the way you love yourself. If not more.
What are your goals for f&f in the next year?
Our goal for ff in the next year is to hopefully have a home that we will make into my studio / cut flower garden. I want to align myself with more local gardeners and farmers so we can get as much Ontario grown flowers as possible. I would also love to see our everyday orders open up, more workshops and one on one lessons. If we can inspire more people to be creative then we have done our job and we hope to keep doing it!
What do you hope to see from Girl Gang?
The continued support of local artists and female entrepreneurs. It’s absolutely amazing what you have done to bring awareness to hard work and dedication artists have in regards to their passions, creations and careers. Thank you!