Happy August, cuties! I am thrilled to be able to share yet another amazing Hamptons-based female artist and entrepreneur with you: Stephanie Lessing, the founder of Millstone Flowers in Water Mill!
You may recognize Stephanie’s work from when she brought her flower cart to our grand opening party at Kathy Kuo Home Southampton last summer–and you’ll be happy to know that we’ll be working with her again on an Ultimate Hamptons Girls’ Night Out Event at her home with LOVESHACKFANCY (and many additional Hamptons brands) on August 10.
Before founding Millstone Flowers, Stephanie had a career in journalism and media (and she even wrote a book!) before she decided to pursue her passion in floral design. What’s more, she’s committed to being sustainable and clean in all of her work. Seriously, could you be more inspired?!
“I love working with people who can bring their vision to life. If you can do one thing for yourself, make your home your paradise, fill it with beautiful things, and never stop moving toward whatever it is you’re passionate about. That’s when the magic happens.”
Before her upcoming art event, where we’ll be showcasing some of her breathtaking mixed-media paintings in-store, I wanted to give all my Kuotes readers a glimpse into her world and her one-of-a-kind business!
Some of Millstone Flowers founder Stephanie Lessing’s beautiful work!
Hi Stephanie! You already know how much I love your business–now, what should all the Kuotes readers know about how Millstone Flowers got its start?
I used to love doing the flowers for my family’s restaurants and for my own parties but then I took a flower class and learned how dirty flowers are. They can be loaded with pesticides and the green floral foam typically used by florists is so toxic, I was told you shouldn’t really breathe near it!
I thought either I couldn’t do flowers anymore or I’d have to find a way to do it without chemicals. I started researching sustainable floristry and I found my niche: Clean flowers!
I love how creative and thoughtful you are, and how those values are so much a part of your mission as a floral designer!
My mission is to create beauty everywhere and to teach people how to design responsibly. I mostly do flowers for small corporate events and I use those opportunities to showcase alternative techniques that produce beautiful, natural floral moments.
“The fragrance of clean flowers is mind-blowing.Everyone goes home with massive arrangements and techniques they can use forever. We use chicken wire, wool, and flower frogs to stabilize the flowers and try to reuse everything. Most importantly, we compost our flowers, which are pesticide free.”
I’m not a huge fan of florist arrangements so I try to design with the hope that the flowers will look like they were just gathered from the garden. I hold flower workshops in my studio and surround my guests with thousands of flowers to choose from.
All smiles in front of the Millstone Flowers cart at our KKH Southampton launch party last summer.
The Millstone Flowers cart at KKH
A little bit like my own path to entrepreneurship, you started in one creative field and then ended up launching a career in another one! Tell our readers about that path.
I started my career as a writer for Conde Nast in the promotion department. I wrote for Mademoiselle and freelanced for Vogue, Glamour, Vanity Fair, and Conde Nast Traveler. The real “Mr. Big” from “Sex and the City” [Ron Galotti] was my boss and he hired me wherever he went, from magazine to magazine. And then I wrote a book about that experience called She’s Got Issues.
But I was always addicted to studying interiors and spent more time reading The World of Interiors than fashion magazines. Decorating and doing flowers had always been an escape from writing.
“I eventually decided to choose the thing I loved more and to make that my life. I think it’s important for people to realize their path can change if they’re open to it.
If you’re stuck in a field that isn’t making you happy, just keep doing what you love on the side and then try to find a way to make it your career.
For me, the Hamptons are my “Happy Place,” and I feel like that’s something we share. What do you love most about the East End?
The Hamptons is the most inspiring place imaginable with the most fun people and projects. It’s like living in a fairy tale. Everything, everywhere is bathed in the most magnificent light.
“Mostly I love the people I’ve met. I love the events and the parties.I love that I can take a break and go to the beach and get recharged. It’s heaven on earth!”
When I take photographs here my flowers look surreal, but so does everything out East. I love that my business brings me to the most lavish gardens. I love decorating the cute shops with flowers that match their brands’ unique styles, and I love going from town to town, each with its own personality and charm. I especially love that the air smells like a bakery and that everywhere you turn is another opportunity to make something even more beautiful.
I am just in awe of Stephanie’s lovely work!
It has been so much fun doing KKH events with you in the past and we have an upcoming event this month–what should readers know?
Well, the first time I walked into the store I was blown away. It’s so perfectly curated and the people who work in the store are so warm and welcoming!
I was introduced to KKH by Elizabeth Jamieson (a KKH team member). We’ve been doing projects together for years. She always understood my mission and let me do my thing. Last summer we did my flower cart in all white garden roses and giant white peonies in front of the KKH store in Southampton and it’s one of my favorite memories.
Finally, I have to ask–do you have a favorite combination of flowers?
My favorites are antique garden roses, I love pairing them with eucalyptus or olive branches. I like to work with a single color palette or shades of the same color. I love anything pink or white paired with pale silvery greenery.