Maurice Harris is a multitasker. While talking to us he is also having his internet upgraded and is making sure his absolute star of a dog, Leroy, stays out of trouble, all while remaining fully engaged and hilarious. “I do this weird thing where I think I can do multiple things at once,” he says, laughing, “so I have a lot going on right now.” This vibrant juggling act is reflected in his multifaceted career; he runs Bloom & Plume, a floral studio with an impressive client list; he’s also the founder of a coffee shop of the same name that doubles as a community space; and he is steadily becoming a regular fixture on television.
While he approaches almost everything with an all-in mentality, finding equilibrium is important to Maurice. You can see it in his flowers, in the way he shares his thoughts, and in the design of his home. “I’m constantly trying to think about a balancing act of light and dark,” he shares. “I think that’s where one’s true authenticity lies, in the modality of both of those energies intersecting.” Maurice considers his home a reflection of his authentic self, that quest for balance, and his double Cancer nature: It is a rental (one he has lived in for 16 years), but he treats it as a permanent space. He makes his living in flowers, but the way his duplex is laid out it doesn’t get much light, so he is a professional florist without any plants.
Maurice’s space is filled with intention in that every single item in his home brings him joy. “I just wanted my space to feel like a weird old Black lady who might have been a rich white lady in her past who is a little bit of a hoarder but is in recovery but she has such cool, interesting things and everything has a story so you can’t get rid of it. And you discover something new every time you come in.” Not only is his home filled with beautiful and unique objects but he also has a growing and impressive collection of art by Black-identifying artists. He approaches collecting less with a collector’s need to invest in the next big thing (though he has grabbed a few works by up-and-comers) but with an eye toward the circularity of community support: “I want people to support me the way I try to support others. I would love for lots of Black people to own and have my work.”
Though Maurice’s home is assembled to his tastes, it is not meant to serve solely as a refuge for one. During a time when he was having trouble finding his people, he took to hosting dinner parties in his home, building the kind of environment that he couldn’t find. “In the transition of my home becoming more comfortable,” he says, “I would welcome people into my home and have these dinners, meeting other Black gay men and talking about our experiences; it was just so beautiful and amazing. And it would give me the fuel that I needed that I didn’t know I needed.” This idea of a gathering space would eventually lead Maurice to open Bloom & Plume Coffee with his brother. It is a community-first space that not only offers people the option to just come as they are, it opens up Maurice’s rarified and expensive business of luxury flowers to anyone who wants to engage with his work and what it’s all about.
This year has been hard for the coffeeshop—as for almost all small businesses across the country—and for Maurice as well. He was on the precipice of leveling up both professionally and monetarily, and, with the world closing down during what was supposed to be a year of abundance, it became one that was about maintenance, which Maurice fully recognizes as lucky in and of itself. “It’s been truly bittersweet,” he says of the shutdown. While mourning what was happening, he also got to “fall in love with my home again, looking at all these projects around my house that I wanted to get done but have never gotten to because I become the last priority because I give so much energy out into the world when I get home I just want to sit on my sofa in silence.”
And here, again, we find him seeking a balance. Celebrating the home he has been able to imbue with more care than ever before. Looking at the bounty sprung from the garden he planted after the murder of George Floyd, an act of releasing physical frustration and controlling what he could. He is reflecting on this time, this place: “Here’s the flip side: I’ve literally fallen in love with myself over coronavirus,” he shares. “Life stopped. I was able to get to know myself in a way I was never able to.” It’s a reminder that we can fill our homes with as many objects that bring us joy as we can, light the candles that help us relax, but if we aren’t present to really receive the gifts of our spaces, we miss the opportunity to root into all that we’ve made. And as if the lesson to slow down wasn’t clear enough, as the conversation comes to an end Maurice calls out to his dog crisply, “Sit, Leroy, sit.”