When Carol Caggiano AIFD, PFCI sold her busy retail flower shop after 37 years to retire, she may have thought she was leaving her most challenging floral adventures behind.
In a surprising turn of events, this nationally-known floral educator became the flower designer of the United States Postal Service recently released Celebration Stamps.
Carol credits being “in the right place, at the right time, with the right people” for giving her the design opportunity of a lifetime. The floral industry is celebrating the release of these two florist-designed stamps along with her.
How was this freelance floral designer chosen to design flowers for a postage stamp? The story began when Carol was willing to help a friend …
“Happy to help.”
“Always be ready for the next opportunity,” she advises. “You never know where it is going to come from.”
Carol frequently designs for the Society of American Florists’ consumer marketing photo shoots. That’s where she met photographer Renée Comet two years ago.
Renee mentioned an upcoming project that required flowers and asked if Carol was interested. “Sure. I’d be happy to help,” she responded. Renee contacted Carol months later to explain the proposed project was a wedding-themed stamp for the USPS.
Carol was intrigued. “Flowers make people happy, so sticking a bit of cheer onto our mail in the form of a flower stamp is a perfect way to spread that happiness around,” she says.
She signed a confidentiality agreement with the USPS and the conference calls began.
Like a wedding consultation
“Working with USPS Art Director Ethel Kessler was a lot like having a wedding consultation,” says Carol. “Ethel sent me pictures of designs that appealed to her, I sent some I thought would interest her and we discussed them over the phone.”
Ethel explained that the goal of the stamp was to be inclusive of both traditional and non-traditional life celebrations. Carol suggested the name ‘Celebration Stamps’ instead of wedding stamps.
The images of a corsage and boutonniere were chosen to represent wearing flowers in celebration of life at a variety of events including weddings, anniversaries, birthdays, proms, showers and parties.
In addition to using the multi-purpose stamps to send invitations, notes of sympathy or congratulations, these stamps are also perfect for sending flower shop mailings and garden club communications.
“It wasn’t a big deal.”
When it came time to create the design for the stamp, “It wasn’t a big deal,” says Carol. Surprisingly, art director Ethel, photographer Renee and designer Carol were the only ones in the room and “it was all very low key.”
Ethel wanted the stamps to express an earthy and botanical vibe and was interested in using natural materials. Carol took to the photo shoot a collection of floral and plant materials including the ranunculus, hypericum, astrantia, brasilia, seed eucalyptus, tiny succulents and soft burlap ribbon that were ultimately chosen.
“We shot multiple samples of both corsages and boutonnieres. The Main Post Office in Washington made the final selection of the two stamps,” Carol explains. They chose a boutonniere design for the forever stamp and a corsage for the 2-ounce oversized envelope stamp.
Carol approved of their choice. “The two they selected were my favorites for many reasons. I think they are versatile, on-trend and attractive. The materials are interesting yet relatable.”
Creating the corsage and boutonniere
“This was a corsage and boutonniere project, and I always use OASIS® Floral Adhesive when I make corsages and bouts,” says Carol.
“Often, as with the ranunculus in theses designs, I find it best to wire and tape the larger flowers to give support, create a solid base and add flexibility for placing materials easily. I then glue smaller items in place which keeps the weight of the design on the lighter side as wire weighs much more than adhesive. Using the wire also allows me to manipulate the shape if I need to.”
Eventually the ‘release from the confidentiality’ letter arrived and Carol could share her good news!
Dedication of the stamps
Carol received a formal invitation to the dedication of the stamps at the Shoenberg Theater of the Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis on May 2nd. “That’s nice,” she thought, but she didn’t plan to attend the event until family and friends convinced her to go.
She’s glad she did, because to her surprise, “This was a big deal!” Carol was asked to speak at the First-Day-of-Issue Ceremony and sign autographs for the stamp collectors in attendance.
“To be a part of the dedication was a privilege and honor. Seeing my stamps unveiled was one of those special moments I will never forget,” she said.
What was the most fun to Carol?
“The most fun of the whole thing is how excited everyone has been about it,” says Carol. “It’s a thrill to see the response people shared on social media. It’s just been wonderful.”
“Always be ready for the next opportunity,” Carol advises. “You never know where it is going to come from. Do your best at whatever comes your way and say yes way more times than you say no. Sometimes just being ready to assist someone or lend a hand might lead to your next great adventure.”
Have you purchased your Celebrations Stamps? They are available at most post offices and can be ordered on the USPS website at store.usps.com/store.