During the holiday season, a typical day for John Mark Sharpe involves decorating private homes for Christmas, ordering product, and…talking about himself. “I’ve been working with some clients for six, eight, ten years now, so we’ve built up relationships, and while I’m decorating their trees or mantels they ask me about what I’m up to, how the business is doing, what’s next,” he says. Recently, we followed along with the Memphis, Tennessee-based Sharpe, who owns two floral and gift retail stores, a warehouse, and a thriving floral design business, for 24 hours of installing holiday décor, meeting with brides, and fashioning bows.
5:30 a.m.: I wake up early with an internal clock every day except Sunday—the only day I set an alarm. After I get ready for the day, I start tackling the not-so-fun stuff on my iPad: invoices, orders, etc. Then, I look ahead and start planning what needs to get done that day and in the following days for upcoming weddings. I find that the morning is the calmest time; once I leave the house it just gets crazier and crazier throughout the day, so I’m never able to sit down and focus.
7:00 a.m.: I head to the gym, where I have an hour-long session with my trainer, then shower and head where I’m needed. Sometimes it’s the warehouse, sometimes it’s the store, but this time of year it’s usually a client’s home or business we’re decorating for Christmas. Before I get on the road, I send notes to my employees—I have 20 team members who work in retail, design, the warehouse, and operations—about what we need to do that day. We mainly communicate via text, but I also leave them a lot of sticky notes. It’s probably not the best way to do things, but it works!
“I started John Mark Enterprises when I was in high school, so I’ve had clients who have put their trust in me for almost a decade.”
9:00 a.m.: I arrive at a client’s home with one of my team members, and we decorate her two trees, two mantels, dining room, and front door. We go heavy on the ribbons, ornaments, and fresh garland. Generally, I meet with clients a few months in advance to decide on a color palette and look, so we know what to order and bring on the installation day.
As we go from room to room, I chat with my client about what’s going on in my life and about the business; I started John Mark Enterprises when I was in high school, so I’ve had clients who have put their trust in me for almost a decade. At this point, many of them give me free artistic rein in their house. They rarely question anything I’m doing in terms of design, they’re more interested in personal information! Before we leave, we take a photos of our work—I like to keep the images on file, since we change things up a little bit every year—and I snap a detail shot of the door for Instagram, which I try to update once a day.
12:00 p.m.: We head over to Trezevant Manor, a high-end assisted living facility, to put the finishing touches on the decorations that we installed the day before. This is a big commercial job—Trezevant takes up an entire city block in Memphis—that we’ve been doing for the past 6 years. We’ve gotten to know a lot of the residents, and everybody’s so fun over there. Some of them have opinions about the decorations, and they all get excited when they see them going up. They also love to ask about me and the business. It’s a common theme!
Every year at Trezevant, we probably install about 10 trees, decorate 15 mantels, hang close to 100 flags and wreaths on doors and entryways, put garlands on gates, and decorate seating areas. We’ll go into some of the residents’ condos and cottages and decorate them for the holidays, too. We’ve gotten to know one of the women who lives on the top floor of one of the buildings pretty well, and this year we hung tons of swag and bows down her hallway and created a photo op area for the residents by hanging garland and a wreath on a mirror with a bench underneath near where you get off the elevator.
Before we begin making sure the ribbons and ornaments are in place and hanging fresh garland, my team member and I make a lunch out of some snacks in one of the seating areas (I always have bagels, peanut butter, Gardetto’s snack mix, and oranges with me). A resident brings us cookies for dessert—that’s just the kind of place Trezevant is.
“There’s just never enough bows.”
4:00 p.m.: After we wrap up at Trezevant Manor, I go straight to my Germantown store. I have a 6 o’clock meeting with a bride, which is very typical. A lot of our brides are career women, and they appreciate that we can meet in the evenings so they don’t have to take off from work. For the next couple of hours, I make bows. This time of year, it feels like we have a million-plus orders, and in particular we make bows for people. Everyone puts a bow on everything here— mailboxes, lampposts, everything. There’s just never enough bows. So, I make up bows until my bride arrives, and then we meet for an hour to discuss what she wants to do for her wedding.
7:00 p.m. I pick up pizza from Rizzie’s, a local Italian spot, and think about how much my trainer must hate my eating habits!
8:00 p.m.: I arrive home and take a long, hot shower to de-stress from the day. Then I watch some Netflix—right now I’m into The Blacklist.
10:30 p.m.: Lights out!
Photography by Sarah Bell with Sélavie Photography. John Mark Enterprises is featured in The Scout Guide Memphis & Oxford.