Jonathan “jay” Whitby unknowingly started his floral design career at the age of 20 while getting his B.A. in interior architecture at Memphis State University. Between classes, he started delivering florals for a local florist. Unimpressed by the arrangements he was delivering to customers, he began quickly reworking the flowers in the back of the van. This bold move paid off as customers called raving over the fresh and unusual designs, promoting him to lead designer. After graduating, the self-taught designer and his business partner Lee Bray opened L & jay Productions in East Memphis. The small floral studio didn’t just want to arrange flowers, but design the entire event from the beginning to end, so they called it a production company with no limits on creativity or on the size of any event.

The logo that Jonathan designed represents the large letter “L” for Lee’s strong personality and a lowercase centered “jay,” which is Jonathan’s family middle name. The placement of the “jay” is the position that Jonathan takes with his company, protected by his staff to put all his energy into pleasing the client and producing endless creativity. The company name is also a nod to Jonathan’s grandfather, whose name is LJ.

After opening, Jonathan—then 24 years old—received magazine praise for being the youngest floral shop owner in the U.S. The accolades kept coming, and now he has designed events honoring some of the “who’s who” of contemporary culture, including Bill Clinton, Oprah, Bono, and Nelson Mandela, to name a few.

Jonathan’s mild-mannered approach makes him popular with the community and vendors with which L & jay works so closely. He is confident in recommending vendors to help build trust with all the clients and ensure a stress-free event. Jonathan is appreciative of being embraced by the community and continues to strive to produce more creative and unusual ideas for his upcoming events. He is currently in the process of putting together his first publication: a book designed to help educate brides with their choices of flowers and colors.