Carol Caggiano has had two once-in-a-lifetime experiences in just one year.
The longtime florist who lives in Jeffersonton was part of the group who had the opportunity to decorate the White House.
Caggiano, who operated a business in Long Island for more than 30 years and moved to the area in 2004, has been a contractor several floral businesses – most notably Teleflora – and those connections helped her land the White House assignment.
When she first moved here, she was doing contract work for Amaryllis and the gentleman she was working with left and started his own business in Chicago. His company got the contract for the White House this year and he reached out to Caggiano to enlist her expertise.
always doing education for Teleflora and other industry work as a contractor
“It was almost surreal,” she said. “I was surprised and very honored that I was chosen. It has a lot of responsibility. You have to manage the many volunteers who come to work on the job.”
She has decorated houses and businesses for Christmas all her life, but to get the call to decorate the White House was a different feeling.
“To do it in the White House was pretty special,” Caggiano said.
The project started several months ago with conference calls, including First Lady Melania Trump.
“Her input was very important and that’s what really drove the whole project,” Caggiano said.
The theme for this year was “Time-Honored Tradition,” meant to pay tribute to the 200 years of White House holiday customs.
The physical side of the project began the Sunday before Thanksgiving as Caggiano and the contractors met with volunteers at a warehouse in Maryland to inventory the old and new decorations.
Everything was labeled, organized, inspected and shipped to White House where the volunteers worked Friday, Saturday and Sunday after Thanksgiving for 12 hour days.
Working with the First Lady was an absolute joy, Caggiano said.
“She’s absolutely lovely,” Caggiano said. “She’s very engaged, she’s very interested. She has lovely taste. I thought her choices were perfect. She was very focused on the Christmas decor had to compliment the aesthetic of the White House.”
One of the examples Caggiano provided was the Blue Room, where the 18-foot Christmas tree was adorned with a blue velvet ribbon to match the room.
Caggiano’s work also got a national spotlight earlier this year, as a corsage and boutonniere she designed was the highlight of a photoshoot that ended up on a United Postal Service stamp.
“I guess my personal mantra has always been to do the best job I can with whatever job I happen to be working at,” Caggiano said. “It seems to work.”
Caggiano was doing a photoshoot with famed photography Renee Comet when Comet asked if she would like to work on another project with her. Caggiano said yes but didn’t realize the scope of it until the postal service called and said her creations were accepted. Caggiano, who has worked on the Rose Parade and had her work featured at inaugurations said the stamp has become one of her favorite pieces.
“I’ve been very blessed in my career and I’ve gotten to do a lot of wonderful things in a lot of wonderful places,” Caggiano said. “This stamp was probably one of the most joyous things I’ve ever done. I’ve never done anything that has had such a 110 percent positive, happy, excited reaction from anyone who knows about it. It’s just been phenomenal.”
Caggiano and her husband Neil, who passed away in 2013, moved to the area as a way to split a difference between their daughters who live in North Carolina and New York.
“We felt it time for a new adventure and something a little different,” Caggiano said.
They had friends who lived in Warrenton and they quickly fell in love with the area, moving to Jeffersonton. Almost immediately her contacts reached out to her and she began freelancing. The past year has been incredible in terms of the exposure she’s received.
“That never even occurred to me,” Caggiano said. “The stamp in particular, I never even thought of it as a big project. It was something I knew something about, I really didn’t even think about it that much. When the Post Office contacted me and told me the stamp was chosen, I was totally blown away. I didn’t even know you dedicated a stamp. It hit me how important and fabulous an opportunity it was.”
Caggiano admitted that many in the community may not even know she’s in their midst, but attributes that to being so busy.
“I always enjoy sharing, it’s not a secret or anything, I guess I’m just busy and I don’t think about going around and telling everybody,” Caggiano said.
So this holiday season, when you send out a stamp with the floral arrangements on it, think of Caggiano and the fact the creations were made right in our backyard.