By Jasmine Shaw
For The Birmingham Times
When Brittany Sharp, owner of The Sharp Standard, a full-service event planning and interior design boutique founded in Birmingham, Ala., and now based in Atlanta, GA got the call to plan the wedding for Slutty Vegan founder, Pinky Cole, and Big Dave’s Cheesesteak founder, Derrick Hayes, she was honored.
Cole and Hayes were married in Atlanta on Saturday, June 10.
“Initially [Cole] was going to have it in Jamaica, but she reached out to me five weeks ago to have the wedding in Atlanta,” Sharp told AL.com. “…When it comes to entrepreneurship, Pinky has paved the way for millennials. So for her to ask me to plan the biggest day of her life, it’s such an honor. I’m on such a high because they could have chosen anyone else.”
Sharp knows she has a knack for staging elaborate celebrations that showcase life’s big moments—and she knows the source of her skills.
“My mother is the queen of extra,” Sharp told The Birmingham Times in a previous profile. “[She] has always been someone who truly exhibits the saying, ‘If you’re not going to do it right, don’t do it all.’ She never half-stepped on anything, and I was always mesmerized by how she went all the way on even the small things.”
Sharp, a 37-year-old Tuscaloosa, Ala., native, used the fondness of those memories as fuel to launch her business in April 2006. After 17 years doing what she loves, Sharp believes the longevity is due to consistency.
“We really haven’t had to advertise to stay afloat,” she said. “Literally, repeat clients and their referrals have allowed us to stay in business—that and God, of course.”
Sharp is always mindful of one heartwarming thought that sparks her passion.
“I love that I get to be part of something that marks monumental moments in people’s lives,” she said. “It always brings me so much joy that I get to create events that, in turn, become lifelong memories for people.”
Going the extra mile for clients is part of the perfection-driven attitude modeled by Sharp’s father, who owns Assurance Insurance Co. in Charlotte, N.C. Her dad strived to make every interaction with his customers perfect, and she does the same. Thinking of ways to perfect each client’s experience allowed Sharp to recognize the need to expand and include interior design services, which involved adding The Sharper Image to her service list in January 2019, when she identified a need to help couples transition into strategically blended homes after marriage.
“We become part of your family after planning your big parties,” she said. “Because we’ve worked with you on some pretty big moments in your life, we have a good sense of your style and use that knowledge to design living spaces that define your lifestyle.”
Sharp learned the art of customer service by working as a crew member at a fast food restaurant throughout high school. While the job wasn’t her first choice, the experience proved to be life-changing because it helped her develop the patience and project-management skills needed to shine as a leader.
“I learned so much about serving the customer and what it means to be consistent in pleasing the customer. I also learned how to grow in your career—the importance of being on time, how to remain calm in not-so-calm situations,” she said.
Sharp used her years as a Central High School cheerleader in Tuscaloosa as an outlet for her extroverted nature. The bond she developed with her teammates left her searching for a similar sense of sisterhood when she went to Auburn University, where she majored in mass communications.
“My love for authentic, raw, sisterhood grew when I became a member of Delta Sigma Theta [Sorority Inc.],” she said. “My sorority is full of so many heavy hitters, and seeing their drive in their careers has, without a doubt, pushed me to never settle for mediocrity.”
Recognizing the organization as a collective that encourages collaboration over competition, Sharp pursued her dream of opening a public relations agency in 2017 along with two multitalented friends. The Modern Mold Agency is a full-service brand, visual, and image consulting boutique firm whose consultants bring nearly three decades of combined experience to the table.
“No matter your needs, the Modern Mold Agency has a service to match,” said Sharp. “With Devin Wyatt leading the visual branding department, Arielle Clay leading the image consulting department, and me leading the public relations department, we are the full package for clients needing PR and branding services.”
Before making her transition into entrepreneurship, Sharp served for three years as director of public information for the Birmingham City Council, where she managed the public relations and communication efforts for all nine Council districts. Working in city government, she learned the ins and outs of contracts, as well as how to manage a staff and her time—“something all business managers must nail in order to truly be successful,” she said.
“I left my last job to pursue The Sharp Standard full-time, … [and] the God we serve is so amazing that [He told me], ‘If you follow what I want you to do with event planning, I’m going to allow you to be part of something even greater.’”
Sharp now uses the team-building strategies from her past to govern her six-member team at The Sharp Standard. While she’s grateful for the flexibility that entrepreneurship provides, she finds it challenging as she learns to balance the demands of her business and personal lives.
“One of the reasons I left my full-time job to pursue my career is because my husband, [Bobby Sharp], wanted me home more,” she said. “We thought this would prevent me from being so busy, … [but] I am definitely busier than I’ve ever been. Thankfully, it’s on my own terms.”
While balance is a feat one must continuously strive to master, running The Sharp Standard, which she owns, and working with the Modern Mold Agency, where she is a partner, have allowed Sharp to realize that patience is a virtue.
“I always want things fast and now! Being an entrepreneur, however, really teaches you the beauty of taking in all steps of the process and not racing to get to the finish line,” she said.
To help her clients celebrate milestones, Sharp routinely unveils jaw-dropping staple pieces like floating dessert walls. For example, as part of one client’s 40th birthday party at Regions Field, she created a 20-foot wall of desserts to emulate a Hall of Fame display similar to one you would see in a sports museum. More than 1,000 desserts were suspended from the ceiling using Plexiglas platforms connected to fishing wire. It looked as though the desserts were literally floating in the air.
Sharp showcases that same love of creativity and crafting at home, where she captures her most memorable moments in scrapbooks during her free time.
“I naturally love pictures, so I enjoy cataloging pictures,” she said. “Whenever I’m sad or having a bad day, I can look back at some of my scrapbooks that include photos from different events and immediately cheer up thinking back to what that event meant to me.”
As Sharp envisions the future for her businesses, her goal is to one day employ dozens. She considers it a privilege to wake up and do something she loves, and she encourages aspiring business owners to never become stagnant and always be resilient in their efforts to learn and better their craft.
“Never settle for mediocrity,” she said. “People respect when you go hard no matter how big the task is. When you understand that, you are always looking for ways to better yourself and your brand.”
Portions of this article originally appeared September, 2019 in The Birmingham Times