Industry Insider Profile: Carly Cylinder

Carly Cylinder loves the movie, Sliding Doors (and the 1980s cartoon, Jem, which inspired her neon-colored elementary-school-era fashion choices, but that’s another story for another day). In an alternate time and space, she might have been a film actor or producer, or even a country-music star (think Miranda Lambert or Dolly Parton). But much like it does in that perfectly coiffed romantic tale of paths crossed and uncrossed, Fate had other ideas. On a bit of a whim, she launched her wildly successful floral business, Flour L.A., quite modestly from her small L.A. apartment, in 2009. Today, she’s hailed as “the Rachael Ray” of the flower scene; she hosts the YouTube floral-arrangement competition series, Arranged, that pits professionals against novice designers; and she’s just released her first book on D.I.Y. floral design. “Most florists I know have always been obsessed with flowers. But this career was definitely something I stumbled upon,” she says. “I think I fell more in love with the idea of creating, so I just went with it. There is so much you can do with flowers—and knowing how to pitch yourself is just as important as the arrangements you make.” —Jennifer Henderson

Name: Carly Cylinder

Occupation: The founder of the upscale floral studio, Flour L.A. and author of the new book, The Flower Chef: A Modern Guide to Do-It- Yourself Floral Arrangements. “It’s important to be adaptable, so each year, I’ve changed my business model to reflect the demands and trends of the marketplace. I started off doing daily orders, was heavily involved in the wedding industry, and then moved into the corporate world with team-building sessions. I also do a lot of flower activities for brand-sponsored events and kids’ parties through my company, Flour L.A., Jr.

Her secret to success: “Persistence. I always say, follow up until you hear a ‘no.’”

Her work ethic: “I’m a hard worker and a bit spastic, so there’s always a lot going on. I like working and I’ll work a crazy number of hours when we have lots of events all at once and then sleep during the downtime. When I’m not working, I get anxiety.”

Her turning point: “Writing my book. I came up with the concept about a year after I started Flour L.A. and before there was a platform where ideas could be easily shared. Rachael Ray’s attitude towards at-home cooking inspired my vision, and Julia Child’s show, The French Chef, and her klutziness (because that’s how I am, too) was the inspiration for the title. I wrote it everywhere: on trains and buses and subways; in little cafés in Williamsburg and in Venice Beach; at friends’ and family’s houses. The book sold in 2013 and was published in 2016, so it’s been a long process, but it was all worth it.”

Her personal style: “I don’t have a definitive style. I’m usually in yoga pants and a hoodie and look like I’m 13, but I would love it if someone dressed me. I’m so inspired by couture. I also not-so-secretly wish I was a country superstar; I love the dresses-with-cowboy-boots look.”

Her must-haves: “I only use Kiehl’s products for skincare. I’ve also been more diligent about wearing sunscreen and I love Neutrogena’s Ultra Sheer Liquid Daily Sunscreen. As for food, I’m still on the quinoa wagon—it has lots of fiber. The Met is my favorite place in New York. And I love wine, but I have an allergy to red, so I drink super-dry whites and rosés.”

Beauty is: “Owning what and who you are. Comparison is the thief of joy, so focusing on your own goals with confidence is the only way to get anywhere.”

Her happy place: “The places that don’t require anything more than a connection to another being. I love meeting people who are inspired. I love being around creativity and talking about making the world a better place. I love creating art even though I’m not that great at it. I love empowering young people to be a positive force for change. I love cuddling my dog Gracie Mae. I love traveling somewhere new and exploring other cultures.”

Inspired by: “Those who are original. I have always loved Lucille Ball for her tenacity and vision. She was very smart and strong willed. The fact that she created a show that still lives on 50 years later is a real feat.”

Words to live by: “Shakespeare’s ‘This above all: to thine own self be true.’ It’s tattooed on my left wrist. It’s so easy to compare yourself to others or to think you haven’t achieved enough. I try to stay true to my own goals rather than what I think I should be doing.”

Her best advice: “Be the one who makes the rules, decides the trends, and puts into the universe what you want to get out of it. I’ve had a lot of naysayers who ask who I think I am to do this or that, and my response always is, ‘Well, someone has to do it, so why not me?’”

What’s next: “I have no idea! However, these are the things I’m working on that I would like to make happen: a Flower Chef for Kids book; teaching floral design classes in different parts of the world; finishing a short documentary about my friend’s stepmom, who was one of the first women surfers in Malibu; and selling a flower competition or flower travel show.”