Charles Earl Franklin: "I thought today was a great opportunity to be kind to strangers and offer a flower as a gesture of kindness.” (Photo: Dr. Sybil C. Mitchell)

A teen entrepreneur looking to spread kindness with flowers made his way to Tom Lee Park and went to work on Friday afternoon.

Charles Earl Franklin’s flowers brought smiles and goodwill to joggers, walkers, and people just taking in the view along the river.

“Today is ‘World Kindness Day,’ said the 14-year-old Franklin. “The political climate we are in is so toxic that people are not very kind to one another. I thought today was a great opportunity to be kind to strangers and offer a flower as a gesture of kindness.”

Franklin is already a successful entrepreneur, who creates pop-up yard messages for parties, occasions, birthdays and other special events. The enterprising teen has discovered that the best marketing opportunities also present the chance to uplift and encourage others.

“My mother and some family members own Flowers and More Shop,” said Franklin. “I told my Mom I wanted to make things better. An act of kindness can go a long way.

Franklin made a large pop-sign to commemorate World Kindness Day. Most  offered flowers thanked Franklin and accepted the unexpected gift. A very few did not accept the flower and “weren’t kind,” according to Franklin.

“I learned a good lesson today,” the teen said. “Even if people are not kind in return, we still must continue to be kind and respectful to everyone. The coronavirus has isolated us from each other. I think it’s still important to wear masks and observe social distancing. But we must not stop being kind to one another.”

Franklin manages a thriving yard pop-up business between studies at Bartlett Academy. Starting his business in May when everything was shut down was important to Franklin.

“I was playing a game with my friends,” said Franklin. “I just got bored, and told my mother I wanted to go down to the flower shop. I like being with my family, even if everyone is working. I was helping to unload a car, and I unraveled a bunch of stuff. It turned out to be a pop-up. I said, “Hey, I want to do this.”

So Franklin came up with a business plan, and just started getting the word out that he was starting a business. His community, his church and even fellow students have utilized Franklin’s pop-up and party service. The overwhelming response was unexpected and “quite nice.”

His parents have been very helpful in promoting Franklin’s business.

“I just kind of oversee the business,” said Telisa Franklin, Charles’ mother. “Charles takes all of his calls, schedules his own events and negotiates prices and makes his own deals. I go with him to help set up the display. His daddy comes and helps Charles take it down.”

Charles Edward Franklin, 14, and his mother, Telisa Franklin, celebrate World Kindness Day. (Photo: Dr. Sybil C. Mitchell)

When the youth was being rejected by some who would not accept a flower, his mother restrained herself and allowed Charles to handle that.

“I always tell Charles that no matter how others treat us or respond to our efforts, we must continue being a light in the world,” said Telisa Franklin. “Especially when they are mean and unkind.”

It sounds like Charles has learned that lesson.

“Even when people didn’t take my flower and they were mean, I just said, “Have a good day.’ I just wanted people to know that it’s OK to be kind.”

The ninth-grader wants to be a real estate investor, and that will take a lot of money, according to the youngster.

“He wants to be a businessman and investor,” said Telisa Franklin. “And we support him all the way. When he wanted to come down here and give out flowers for World Kindness Day, I said, ‘OK, why not?’”

(Charles Earl Franklin can be reached for yard pop-ups at 901-230-6080, or go to his website: www.yardpopups.com.)