The Amazing, Crazy Story Of How A Man Named Pearl Accidentally Became A Brand

Posted: April 9, 2011 in Business Tips, Little-Known Revelations On Branding

It was the 1980’s and Pearl Fryar wasn’t aiming for anything big.

He just wanted to win the “lawn of the month” award. That’s all.

Why?  Because when Pearl (who is African-American) moved into the mostly white neighborhood in Bishopville, South Carolina, the neighbors complained.  They said they didn’t want him in their neighborhood.  Their reason?  They said it was because African-Americans don’t keep up their yards.

Pearl decided, “I’ll show them!”  And he did.  But he did it in a very unexpected way.

He went to the local nursery and took ONE lesson on topiary gardening.

Then, armed with FREE “throw away plants” that the nursery piled up to toss out, Pearl began experimenting with his topiary skills.

And guess what?

He won the “lawn of the month” award!

But something else happened in the process…
Pearl slowly became famous.

Professional topiary artists began to show up to see what he was doing.  Pearl said they’d see what he’d done and they were amazed.

They couldn’t believe their eyes!


Because Pearl was doing things that weren’t supposed to be possible.  I LOVE Pearl’s answer to them.  He simply said, “No one told me it wasn’t possible.” 🙂

And something happened to his neighbors.  (Remember the ones who originally didn’t want Pearl there?)  They became so impressed they asked PEARL to help him with THEIR gardens!

His fame continued to grow and so did the “Pearl Fryar” brand.

People began to come and visit to see this amazing accomplishment of this man named Pearl.

And they didn’t just come by the car-ful.  They began to show up by the BUS load!

Literally, buses on local tours began to take people to see Pearl’s work.  And Pearl welcomed them all.  People found out that this man with an amazing garden had an equally amazing heart.

The whole time Pearl continued to focus on his accidental passion: topiary gardening.  And when he did, he got better and better.

His skills became so honed and well-known that a woman at the local community college, who taught art classes, asked Pearl to come and speak to her students.

This art teacher was so impressed with who Pearl was and his great skill that she worked out for him to do a show of his work at an art museum.

Pearl shared with the class some of his powerful, simple wisdom.  He told them, “He who wants to rise above the average must do beyond the average.”

But it gets even better.

The man who just wanted to win the “lawn of the month” award was COMMISSIONED by the city of Bishopville to work on the plants downtown and give them that special “Pearl” look.

Even Pearl’s favorite restaurant “Waffle House” asked Pearl to design the bushes outside their location.

(Guess who gets free meals whenever he comes there!?!)

This person who just wanted to win an award, became a person that people all over knew of, respected and loved.  (You can watch a documentary about him on Netflix that is called, “A Man Named Pearl.”)

What was his secret?  His strategy?

Simple like all things that Pearl does.   (Pay attention to what I say next or you might miss it.)

He didn’t try to be someone he wasn’t.
He didn’t change his name to fit it.
He didn’t try to copy what all other topiary artists did.

Here’s what Pearl did…
He just was who he was, did what he did well and did it his way.

And because he did this, people were drawn to him!

They wanted to meet him.
They wanted to experience what he did.
They told their friends.
And then the accidental branding happened… they wanted to be like Pearl so much that they asked him to do what he did FOR THEM.

Are you seeing the lesson for you and your business here?

Listen to how Pearl explains it in his own words, “There’s no way they’re gonna forget me.  An African-American guy, in Bishopville, named Pearl Fryar with a topiary garden…  And it works in my favor.”

You just heard Pearl’s branding revelation.

I’d say it like this…

  • Stop trying to fit in.
  • Stop trying to copy everyone else in your niche.
  • Be YOU.
  • Better yet… Be you in all your uniqueness, with all of your idiosyncrasies.

*And here’s the secret: When you do these things, you will finally have your only REAL chance to create a powerful brand!

This is one of the things I realize that I need to do more than I ever have before.

Remember in my previous Branding Revelation posts (#1 & #2) how I told you if you stuck around I would SHOW you how to do this with my own example?

Well, that’s what you’ll be seeing next in my upcoming posts.  You’ll SEE me do what you need to do.

How will I do it?

I’m going to begin to tell you the REAL story of who I am. You’ll see how I became an “out of the cube” business strategist and business recession solution expert.

I’m going to tell my story – with no hype but with all the crazy, true details that will include:

  • A childhood kidnapping
  • An alcoholic father
  • A martial artist
  • A wanna-be cartoonist
  • How my biggest fear became my biggest strength
  • A rapper
  • A Pastor

I know it sounds like a list of random things, but you’ll see how this all goes together and makes sense when you read my story in my upcoming posts.

I’ll leave you with one more take on this brand revelation I’ve tried to reveal to you in this post.  It’s a quote from another unlikely source...

“When you do the common things in life in an uncommon way, you will command the attention of the world.” – George Washington Carver.

Do this and the world will be drawn to you like they were to Pearl. You’ll become unforgettable.

Stay tuned and watch as I show you how…

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  1. […] my application/example for you of the lessons I shared about the power of story & personality, being yourself, in branding and […]

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