From vegan breakfast bowls to disco-light workouts, this Memphis native brings the creative to all aspects of his life
Photographs by KIm Thomas
Editor’s note: “Perfect Day” is our new feature to celebrate local food enthusiasts from all walks of life who make us want to spend the whole day with them. Obviously, we want to know their favorite things to eat and cook, but we also just want to know everything about them. Who better to launch this series than David Quarles IV? Read below and then let us know who should be next. Email email@example.com.
David Quarles, IV, was born and raised in Memphis, a city that he loves for its people, art, and soul. This 31-year-old is a multi-hyphenate creative—an interior designer and stylist, jewelry designer, and fitness instructor.
“Since a very young age, I had trouble staying entertained with a single endeavor. So I always kept busy by exploring different creative avenues like dance, the visual arts, and literary arts even. I love life and seek to get all out of it that I can, while staying inspired and inspiring others along the way,” explains David.
Lately, he’s working on home design projects for clients, running his jewelry brand, IV, and maintaining his blog with content focused on vegan cooking, interiors, and wellness. His schedule also includes teaching weekly virtual Zumba classes, all while keeping family time as a priority and carving out moments for personal self-care.
It’s safe to say that David is not letting anything—not even a pandemic—slow him down. He says that quickly adapting to the digital and virtual world was probably the biggest 2020 challenge for him.
“I thrive off personal, face-to-face interaction. So, having to carry on with fitness classes, virtual makers markets, and a majority of my client consultations through a screen has been a major adjustment,” he says.
“However, with everything being digital, I’m able to navigate through my day with better efficiency, and thankfully have been afforded a few virtual speaking engagements I may not have otherwise achieved so early on in my career if not for online exposure. All of this, too, has pushed me to learn more about social media engagement, and creating a better online experience for social media followers and clients alike.”
He’s also spent a lot of time in the kitchen. Until recently, other than an occasional home-cooked meal dropped off by his parents, he cooked every single meal he consumed during the pandemic.
“Pre-pandemic life, trying new restaurants and frequenting my favorites was almost a daily practice. I love our local restaurants and their owners. So not being able to enjoy the experience they provide was a difficult change to my lifestyle,” he says.
David worked to create that same restaurant experience at home by paying close attention to the ingredients he used and always setting the vibe with music and cocktails. And with his diet being vegan, he says he’s had an absolute ball learning new recipes while veganizing some of his go-to meals, like bacon mac-n-cheese.
“The pandemic has definitely given us an up-close look at some of life’s harsh realities. However, it has also slowed things down for us to be able to tap into our creativity as a form of survival, function, and, ultimately, self-care,” he says.
Now, let’s talk about what a perfect day usually looks like for David.
Edible Memphis: What’s your favorite day of the week? Why?
David Quarles, IV: My favorite day of the week is Sunday. It’s the day that actually starts my week, and I use it to reset, reflect, and slow down. I reserve this day for my spirituality, additional family time (virtually, of course), and/or simply doing nothing. I usually like to cook veganized soul food on this day. There’s just something so nostalgically calming about Sunday that simply feeds my soul.
Do you have a morning ritual?
In the morning, I start the day by reading a positive text. Once I finally peel myself out of the bed, I complete my morning self-care routine, which usually consists of a flow-and-stretch session, as well as a 15-minute morning facial.
From there, I complete one of my favorite parts of my day—opening up all of the curtains to let the light in. I like to take this time to check on all of my plants and water them as needed. After starting my daily water intake, I brew my morning coffee and take time to write out my tasks and simply look out the window to soak up moments of peace as I get ready to start my day.
What’s an ideal breakfast for you?
I love breakfast bowls. Whenever I can, I’ll usually prepare a bowl of white rice with vegan eggs, red or black beans, kale, vegan bacon (if I have it), topped with pico de gallo and avocado slices.
I usually prepare a Colombian roasted coffee with caramel almond creamer and chai concentrate. It’s a slightly sweet and spicy mix I’ve loved for some time now.
Tell us about your morning work schedule.
In the morning, I try to get most of my administrative work done—emails, spec tables for design clients, phone calls, etc. I tend to have more energy in the morning for taking care of those tasks. As the day progresses, I’ll shift into more creative work.
If I have a design client install on any particular day, I prefer getting an early start to make the most of our time.
Is it lunchtime yet?
Now that the new City Silo location is open in Germantown, and I frequent the area during my grocery store runs, picking up any of their plant-based menu items—especially the Green Micro Machine salad—would be the perfect lunch. And, of course, I wouldn’t leave without a Brass Knuckles shot to give me the boost of energy I need for the rest of the day.
How do you spend the afternoon?
By the afternoon, I transition to more creative work. So this would include working on design plans for clients, making jewelry to fulfill orders or simply come up with new designs, or scouting new music to develop choreography for my classes.
I like to leave the work that stimulates my mind for the afternoon or late at night. I’m actually more of a night owl than anything.
Unless I’m on a late site visit, I like to wrap up my days by 3:30 or 4 p.m.
As soon as I finish my work, I close all of my curtains, put all electronic devices on DND, and I nap for 30 minutes.
Since I instruct my fitness classes primarily in the evening—or if I have any other work to get done later at night—this helps me have enough energy to complete those tasks as needed and with better focus.
If I could have an order of steamed vegetables, goi cuon tau hu (tofu spring rolls), white rice, and lemongrass tofu from Pho Binh three or four nights out of the week, my soul would be eternally happy.
I’ve tried several times to make my version of their lemongrass tofu. However, nothing comes close to the original. It’s not rare that I’d consume my entire to-go order in one sitting. And, for dessert, any sorbet from Sweet Magnolia is my go-to. [Owner] Hugh [Balthrop] is a flavor magician with all of his gelato and sorbet options.
OK, now you are fueled up and ready for an evening of…
If I’ve not already weight trained for the day, I like training at night. For my new home gym—affectionately named GYM IV—I purchased a disco light to add a party element to those especially grueling training sessions. OK, the disco light is the real reason I like training at night!
As for any work, making jewelry while the rest of the world is asleep is one of the most therapeutic activities. I can truly unplug from technology—other than my music, as it helps influence my designs (I’m a synesthete and use music as a color influence)—and create freely for hours.
You must be tired by now.
Once my brain slows down from the day’s activities, I go through my nightly facial routine, program all technology to the sleep setting, spray my pillows with lavender, and complete a breathing exercise that encourages a deeper sleep.
However, if I’m ever creatively stimulated by a dream, I’ll always have a drawing pad and set of pencils next to me on the nightstand. This allows me to quickly capture what I saw in my dream, then get back to sleep. I’ve done this for as long as I can remember.
And that’s pretty much my day in a nutshell. (My days have a lot of moving parts.)
Stacey Greenberg is the editor of Edible Memphis. @nancy_jew
Kim Thomas is a lifestyle blogger and photographer based in Memphis. Launched in September 2010, her blog KP Fusion provides of-the-moment fashion, style and beauty tips and trends with a little Memphis flavor thrown in. @kpfusion