This is How I Focus, a series about how extremely productive and highly creative people block out the noise and get shit done.
Maurice Harris’s job is to make beautiful things. He makes them at his floral studio, Bloom & Plume, for a star-studded clientele of high-end fashion houses and in-the-know celebrities. He posts them on his Instagram, where he infuses them with elaborate character profiles. He creates them for his Quibi show, Centerpiece. Did we mention he also owns a coffee shop with his brother and has signed on to judge a competitive flower arranging show on HBO Max?
A self proclaimed workaholic, Harris sometimes struggles to keep so many plates spinning. His day-to-day involves a few balancing acts: managing his bottom line while trying to uphold the integrity of his work, delegating tasks without sacrificing too much of his vision, investing in his passions without turning them into soulless money-making machines. A key to unlocking all this, he’s found, is creating some distance between his self worth and his work—bigger risks are possible if they feel less personally daunting.
Harris spoke with GQ to share more of the wisdom he’s picked up along the way.
Start with big ideas, then get smaller.
I run through ideas so much that I need filters to help me buckle down. My brother is a one-two-three list, finance person. We’re exactly the opposite. I’ll want to do new sweatshirts in, like, five different colors. And he’s, like, “No. you get two.” And then I’ll be, like, “Okay, fine. We’ll do three.” Would I like everything on the menu [at their coffee shop] to be locally sourced and organic and from a small farm? Yes. But should an avocado toast cost $18? No! That’s crazy! The systems in this country aren’t set up for us to do that. So it’s about figuring out the balance of, how organic can we make it, how locally sourced can we get it, where it’s still approachable.
I think you have to start with I want to take over the world! and then rein it in: Okay, if I can clean up my street, that would be great. You start with something really big and then you just pare it all the way down to what actually can get done and be effective. I’m constantly evaluating that. And I think that sets me up for success.
Loosen your grip.
Something that my brother and I talk about a lot is to grow your business you have to work on it, you can’t work in it. That usually means that I’m not making arrangements day to day. A business is your baby, so when that baby turns 18 or 30 or whatever, you can’t keep micromanaging it. It’s not a baby anymore. For it to blossom and flourish, it’s gonna make mistakes, it’s gonna fail, it’s gonna conquer, it’s gonna do all kinds of things. All those failures and successes are not a reflection of how good of a person I am. When you’re just, like, “This is a part of me, not all of me,” it isn’t as daunting or as oppressing as I’ve made it feel in the past. It has been really freeing. And I can see the success of my business more as I strategically let go.
Surround yourself with people you trust.
I work best in community. Even for very remedial things, I feel like if we’re bouncing ideas off of each other, I get a lot of clarity. But if you ask the people that I’m working with, I don’t think they necessarily feel like it’s very collaborative [laughs]. I have an amazing, amazing team. It almost brings me to tears, because they really show up for me in a way I could have never expected. I didn’t think it was possible that somebody else would care even a little bit as much as I care, and show up and do a great job.
But don’t be afraid to do your own thing.
I always do something for me, because I am a creative person and have a creative job, so it can be very confusing to think that a job can fulfill you. Understanding the boundaries has really given me peace of mind, and has managed my expectations of how people interact with my work. I understand now that when somebody is critiquing something, it’s not a personal attack.