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Circus Performer to Floral Designer

Mark Harding

Though his death-defying days are far behind, Mark’s time touring with live stage productions, which ended in 2011, continues to shape his work. AsFloral Arrangement he tells it, the leap from the circus to running his own West Virginia flower shop was not a direct one. First, he made a stop at a supermarket, where his affection for floral design truly came into full bloom.

“My becoming a florist was a complete accident and caught me entirely by surprise,” Mark says. “I had simply decided to take some time off from my career as a circus artist, which at that time required a decent amount of travel. During those couple months, I took a part-time position in the produce department of a Whole Foods Market.”

“I simply kept finding myself increasingly more drawn to the flowers,” he says. “Over time, as customers got to know me, and I grew more comfortable, I stepped into the position of Floral Specialist and Merchandiser for several locations. From that point on, it has been one step ahead of the next into an even stronger passion and commitment to floral artistry.”
Mark says that his time as a trapeze artist continues to inspire his work. He discovered himself, he states, while traveling with a live production where he would perform in front of crowds. His work with flowers today allows him to continue sharing his creativity with others.

Headpiece Arrangement“My favorite tools for inspiration are the flowers themselves,” Mark says. “I very rarely sit down to sketch or draft a concept on paper. I hardly ever even write recipes for my work. I simply order in what is the freshest and most vibrant in the market. From that point on, I let the flowers take the lead and try to keep up as best I can.”

Trading in his high-level circus performer background for the friendly confines of Shepherdstown, West Virginia, Mark found a nurturing place to grow his business, Flower Haus, which he started three years ago.

“The best thing about living in West Virginia is that everyone still makes eye contact and still genuinely asks how you’re doing every time you see them,” he says. “There is so much community and endless support in this area. Being a contemporary artist in a rural setting might present some challenges but I’ve never felt more welcome or encouraged to build my business in doing things the way I believe to be the best.”