News & Events

#FGRFamily Spotlight | Michael Harshbarger

March 4, 2020

#FGRFamily Spotlight | Michael Harshbarger

Michael has been with Bold for about three years and acts as the assistant floral manager and sales design manager. When he’s not arranging centerpiece stems or pricing out new works of floral art you might find him trying cocktails on the Beltline or visiting Disney with his fiance. Learn more about him in today’s #FGRFamily spotlight below!

How did you get into the event and design industry? Can you share more about your experiences leading up to joining Bold?

I was going to school for landscape design and they offered floral design courses. A teacher suggested that I might enjoy them and sure enough, I took the course and did. I found my first job on Craigslist. I worked with a woman who referred me to Tony Brewer, another local event company here in town. I worked for them for 4 years. That’s really where I got started. I did the daily flowers for the Ritz-Carlton Buckhead. I didn’t do a lot of events then. Occasionally on the weekend when they were short staffed at the design warehouse, they would pull me in. It wasn’t until I moved to L.A. and ran a flower shop out there [that I started doing events.] They were very hands-off, having me handle all the design work and even my own sales. And then we started doing weddings and events. I’ve also worked for a domestic staffing agency, housekeepers, nannies, butlers and have even trained some of the house managers on how to make basic flower arrangements. Ray Rosa, our Operations Manager here, actually referred me to Bold.  Almost three years ago I started back in the warehouse doing floral design work.

Can you describe your role here with Bold?

It’s actually kind of unique. I am our assistant floral manager and one of our sales design managers. On the floral side of things, I will help the sales designers price out centerpieces we’ve never built before. I’ll help them with trend information. I send them stuff like Pantone webinars about the color of the year. I also handle all the ordering of the fresh product. So, all the flowers that get ordered, 99 percent of the time I order and source. We get flowers from Ecuador, Columbia, South Africa, Australia, Holland – we get them from all over. In the summer, we get them locally from the US.

What is your favorite thing about being part of the FGR family?

My favorite part is just working here, just because we’re doing design We’re doing something creative and when all the creative minds get together, you may start out with one thing that flourishes into something much larger. And bouncing ideas off of each other. I do that a lot with [Senior Designer] Steve Bales. He’ll come to me with an idea and I’ll make some small recommendation and the wheels start turning and it just evolves and evolves. It’s really cool.

What are your favorite flowers to work with?

A Parrot Tulip. Those are really cool because they’re a great texture. Something I love to work with that we don’t a lot, just because it’s a little pricier is a Clematis. It’s a little more vine-y. There’s a new one that’s very pretty that we don’t use a whole lot because it’s just coming onto the market so it’s quite pricey, a Fritillaria. I haven’t gotten to work with that one at all.

Where did you grow up?

I’m from McDonough, Ga. I lived in Clayton County for part of my life and then we moved when I got into middle school to McDonough, so I pretty much grew up there. So, I grew up in the country. Well, it was the country – now it’s like Suburbia.

What part of town do you live in?

My fiancé and I currently live in Vinings. We’re actually moving back to Midtown. It’s a nice area, but it’s a little too suburban for us. We definitely realized we’re more city people. I prefer somewhere that’s walkable. It’s easy and such a different experience when you’re walking somewhere as opposed to sitting in traffic with the animosity of every other driver on the road.

What’s your favorite thing to do in Atlanta when you’re not working?

Lately, we go cocktailing up and down the Beltline. For example, the other day we started at the Ticonderoga Club, then went to Ladybird, followed by New Realm and ending up at Ponce City Market. I also like a good hotel bar. We plan on going on Sundays, – I’m definitely a Sunday-Funday person.

What’s your guilty pleasure?

Chocolate. Me, my boss Linda and Aleyna, who I share an office with, have a chocolate drawer. Really, it’s Reese’s. Anything chocolate and peanut butter.

What’s your favorite travel destination?

We go to Disney a lot. We’re definitely Disney fans. When we lived out in L.A., we had season passes. I think we went 79 times in one year. Since we had season passes, sometimes we’d just go have dinner, see the fireworks and go home. I was actually in school at the time for interior design. I would go there because a lot of what I wanted to do, and still have an interest in is theme park design. It’s the experience in itself. That’s what I like about floral design as well. You’re creating an event for them to get a feeling, a setting of some sort.

Favorite band?

I’m really into a lot of EDM music, but more like Tropical House as well. I like to just hang out and chill, I don’t like anything too heavy, so hard rock isn’t really my gig. Even though for a talent show in the sixth grade we did a Metallica song. Lately I’ve been listening to Rufus du Sol, Galantis & Griz.

What are three adjectives that best describe you?

I think I’m very cheery. I hate using the word perfectionist because people think it’s so negative these days, but as designers we do strive for perfection. Spontaneous. I’m a wanderer by nature. They actually shut down Sea World when I was seven because of that. My brothers were supposed to keep an eye on me so I just wandered off and they couldn’t find me, and they had to shut the whole place down until they could find me. That wasn’t the first time this happened, or the last.

What inspires you most in your career?

The flowers are always inspiration. The beauty of it is just nature and 90 percent of the time no single flower is the same. So being able to figure out how to work with that stem and recipe an arrangement down to every stem of greenery.

In the design aspect, it’s figuring out what we have here and figuring out how I can utilize it for clients for something I know they’re really going to love. I’m always trying to put a different spin on it because you see so much of the same right now. It’s all pampas grass and all the boho. Now we’re turning into these darker foliages with that boho look which I actually really like because I think that brings in a lot of this vibe of the 1920’s.

What are some design trends you’re noticing this year?

Definitely the pampas grass. The saturated colors, or the lack of color. Your typical blush, your ivories. With color, I’m seeing these very moody arrangements where you’ve got these deep burgundies with these soft pastels. And again, the dark foliage. Something else is I’m noticing lately is gold beetles are coming back, the gold-plated bugs and I thought those were really cool and interesting. It takes a very specific client, someone who’s fine thinking outside the box.

Any fun projects you’re working on currently?

Actually quite a few. I have Jewish wedding coming up in August that is interesting because their taste is definitely different than your traditional bride and groom. They want to stick with the white and green palate but they’re wanting more unusual flowers. They’re getting married at a very eclectic venue, but they want to put a modern spin on it so we’re gonna do a fun AstroTurf aisle runner and some sleek white chairs.

One I have coming up sooner is a beer garden at a new space. A school is giving a donor appreciation night and it’s a small gathering, but what they’re allowing us to do is such a blank slate. The venue allows us to do anything and they wanted a beer garden. I actually get to utilize stuff that I learned in interior design school and actually build renderings for them to see as opposed to our usual proposals. It’s going to be at The Works. It’s going to be a food terminal area, but we’re actually getting into the site before anyone else does. It’s going to be a fun one because we have this blank space we’re able to turn into whatever we want.