Alumni Profile: Carly Ragosta ’08

Business Is Blooming

business is blooming

“I wanted to do something creative, to reassert beauty back into my life.”

Ragosta enjoys being able to access the skills she gained through her undergraduate and graduate education in psychology and social work to become a reassuring and positive influence for her clients.

— Meredith Guinness MA ’16

carly (St. Pierre) Ragosta ‘08 was looking for a respite from the high-stakes world of mental healthcare when she took her first stroll through the New York City Flower Market in 2014.

“I was looking for life balance,” said the psychology and Spanish double major. “I wanted to do something creative, to reassert beauty back into my life.”

Lost in a lush world of intoxicating gardenia blooms and delicate coral ranunculus, the busy social worker found calm, comfort, ...and a new career. It was there that the idea for BloomBar, Ragosta’s popular floral design business, took root.

You might say Ragosta was destined to combine her love of helping people with her creative bent. Her parents encouraged their three daughters to dabble in the arts. Ragosta’s mom, who has enjoyed a career in public service, loves to paint; her older sister is a music therapist and her younger sister is a writer.

After finishing graduate school at Columbia University, Ragosta funneled her interests in social justice and the dignity of the individual into a variety of positions, including at a crisis response center. It was a grueling, intense environment where she dealt with complicated issues involving mental diagnoses and suicide.

“It was literally life and death with a lot of cases,” said the Massachusetts native.

Through it all, there was her husband Nicholas Ragosta ‘08, co-founder of the clothing brand Stòffa, whom she met during their first year at Fairfield. As they planned their 2014 wedding, she immersed herself in the floral aspects of their Rhode Island ceremony and reception — a precursor of things to come.

At the flower market, wholesale vendors were generous with their time and happy to teach Ragosta the ins and outs of the trade, from ordering and buying blooms, to processing and storing her delicate wares. Her new network of “flower friends” cheered her self-trained attempts at arranging and design, and emboldened her to continue.

“It was, ‘Can I please do flowers for your dinner party?’ ‘Can I do flowers for your birthday?’” Ragosta said, laughing.

Soon Ragosta’s side business had outgrown the nights and weekends. About two years ago, she made BloomBar her full-time focus. “I’m now able to design my life,” she said.

A typical day starts at the flower market, where she and her team gather vases and blooms, and outline the detailed logistics of special events from her rented studio space. Wedding day plans include everything from loading in, to pinning boutonnières, to 1 a.m. party breakdowns. No fan of the waste inherent in lavish gatherings, Ragosta insists that all floral decorations be repurposed for nonprofits, or composted after the events.

Despite the pressure of dealing with such a fleeting medium, Ragosta said she adores her work.

“They’re so ephemeral,” she said of flowers. “But their beauty is beyond words.” Though her floral business is booming, Ragosta hasn’t turned her back on her first profession. When New York Governor Andrew Cuomo put out the call, she was quick to volunteer for the Covid-19 Emotional Support Hotline, signing up for on-call shifts to provide resources and support for those in need.

Ragosta also co-facilitated digital webinars, livestreams, and Q&As of those impacted by the virus through E! Network’s Pop of the Morning and the Love Stories TV website, a video platform for wedding planning and inspiration. She hopes that linking some of those segments to her BloomBar website (BloomBar.com)  and her Instagram account (@bloombar.nyc) might help those who have had to postpone weddings and large-scale events.

Even on a good day, stressful ups and downs are part and parcel of the wedding experience. Throwing very real health concerns into the mix has made things highly uncertain for Ragosta’s clients. Ragosta enjoys being able to access the skills she gained through her undergraduate and graduate education in psychology and social work to become a reassuring and positive influence for her clients.

Other Articles in the Summer 2020 Issue

Donor Profile: Baureen Bujno '90

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Alumni Profile: Michael Cummings ’84

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A Mission Continues

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On The Front Lines

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From A Distance

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Career Goals

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Lifetime Value

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Letter From The President

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