Just in time for spring, ProFlowers has teamed up with Plantgem to feature the brand’s curated inventory of bulbs, making them available to anyone and everyone interested in gardening, no matter your experience or background. Plantgem offers both gardening tools and fantastic flower options typically reserved only for florists. We spoke with co-founders Willow King and Julie Carson on their entrepreneurial motivations, garden inspiration, and advice for aspiring green thumbs.
What’s your history with gardening? Have you always had a green thumb, or has it ebbed and flowed from masterful greenhouse to tending overgrown weeds?
Our moms are both gardeners so we grew up around that effort and beauty. To be honest, I am really just getting into it now. I have always kept a humble veggie garden but learning about these incredible flower varieties and making spaces for them in our yards and worlds is a new delight.
We know Plantgem was born from a desire to plant unique stems that florists were selling – “dusty roses, pale poppies, and scarlet sunflowers…” – but can you elaborate on the inception of Plantgem? Did you want to demystify gardening, make it more inclusive?
Absolutely. I think there is a sense that gardening is hard, out of reach, or only for those with tons of leisure time on their hands. While it’s true that there is a lot to learn about growing flowers and we are humbled by that, it is also a simple, timeless activity that anyone can do, anywhere! Big yard, small balcony garden box, city, country – gardening for all!
Talk me through the growing pains of starting a small business. In what ways did Covid-19 help or hinder the early days of Plantgem? Any suggestions for other doe-eyed entrepreneurs?
Not gonna lie, it’s a roller coaster ride. We are dealing with live products and a complex supply chain (particularly during Covid) has been a heavy lift. Having said that, it has been a big boost for the gardening world, as people have been at home working on their yards and gardens, so customer interest has been high – a trend which we think will continue as we start to work our way back out into the world.
Could you share customer success stories that – at least for a moment – made all the hard work worth it? Do you get to see your products incorporated in customers’ homes and gardens?
We are so excited to begin capturing this as our spring plants go out the door. We have had some happy emails from customers who bought bulbs in the fall and are having shoots pop through the ground this spring. Pure joy!
Who do you have garden envy for?
So many people. I am a huge fan of Piet Oudolf’s work. So gorgeous and organic. Also Frances Palmer’s Dahlias and Ben Hamilton Anderson’s English roses. Swoon.
What do you predict the future of home gardening being with the world stuck at home? Have you seen it shift since starting Plantgem right as everything hit the fan?
Absolutely. There were so many articles during the initial stages of Covid about the therapeutic quality of growing things in times of uncertainty. Think Victory Garden but make it modern.
I firmly believe that once we make it past the worst of Covid, people will continue with this newfound desire to be closer to their gardens and the renewal of growing.
Any gardening mantras or words of wisdom that keep you sane when things get “wild and funky?” What are your best quick tips that we couldn’t find in a gardening 101 book?
We are not perfectionists at Plantgem. We believe in learning the ropes by getting our hands dirty and learning from the plants as much as from books. It reminds me of a block print that we had at my house when I was little that said, “When the world wearies and society ceases to satisfy, there is always the garden.”
Earth Day is coming up; does it hold more significance being in the business of flowers? As your website mentions, gardening is personal and political, so in what capacity will you be recognizing Earth Day this year?
A friend of mine does a tree planting event every year so we will participate in that and share some tips about getting those annuals in the ground, but in our minds, every day is earth day.
We celebrate Earth Day as a day of action to organize on a large scale to demand legislative action on climate change.