( ENSPIRE Community Spotlight ) Emerald City Plant Shop Will Be First Black-owned Plant Shop in Massachusetts
ENSPIRE Contributor: Abby Ladner
With more time at home, many people have responded to the pandemic by bringing the outdoors in and filling their homes with plants. Whether they are just getting into houseplants or revamping their collections, turning their homes into a jungle has been a therapeutic and comforting activity for many people. However, it can also be challenging to keep up with the care needs of each new plant. Being around plants can improve both your physical and mental health. Now, Emerald City Plant Shop is helping plant owners grow their collections while keeping their plants happy and healthy.
Emerald City Plant Shop, based in Norwood, Massachusetts, provides plant consultations, personalized in-home plant design, and care tutorials for plant parents old and new. They are currently raising money to open their first brick-and-mortar store, which will be the first Black-owned plant shop in Massachusetts. The goal of Emerald City is not just to sell plants but to help people learn about plants as well so they can keep their leafy friends alive long after they leave the store. Read the interview below with Emerald City Plant Shop founder Quontay Turner to learn more about Emerald City and how they’re spreading the joy of houseplants.
First of all, I’d love to hear about how you first got into houseplants.
My Nana was the one to first introduce me to plants (her yelling at me and my brother to get out of her rose bushes is part of the soundtrack to my childhood). But, about 5 years ago, she gave me clippings of her pothos and some spider plant babies, which quickly snowballed into the 50+ plants I have now. Over the last year, I passed a lot of the things I learned from my plants to my cousin Danita, who is our other owner.
What made you decide to turn your love of plants into a business?
Almost two years ago, I started working at Niche Plant Shop in the south end to support my plant habit and share all that I had learned in taking care of my own plant collection with people looking to start their own. After the pandemic hit, the amount of people that wanted to get into plants soared. I would have tons of messages from friends who needed my advice on a plant they just bought that wasn’t doing so well. When the opportunity to vend at Black-owned Bos Holiday Collective at Legacy Place presented itself for my other business, Q Made It, I took that as a chance to test the market of selling plants with an emphasis on educating people on how to care for them. The issue isn’t necessarily about finding plants, as they are everywhere, but rarely are they accompanied with accurate information on how to care for them.
What made you decide to establish a brick-and-mortar store?
The Emerald City Plant Pop Up at the Black-owned Bos Holiday Collective in Legacy Place was a huge success! So much so that one of the number one questions we received was “where is your store so I can buy more?” Seeing the-pop up’s success, the gap in plant care, and lack of a Black-owned plant shop in Massachusetts/New England was all I needed to start looking for a permanent home for Emerald City.
Who do you hope to help with Emerald City Plant Shop?
We aim to be the go-to educational plant shop that supports and is supported by our community. Not only will we provide workshops and one-on-one plant care consultations but we will also be carrying plant accessories, housewares, wellness gifts, and art from local women- and POC-owned small businesses.
Since the start of the pandemic, more and more people have been getting into houseplants. Why do you think that is?
For the last year, we’ve all been restricted to living our entire lives within the four walls we call home. Our living rooms have transformed into our offices, workout rooms, classrooms, dance floors, and more. Making your home feel and look good has never been so important, and plants play a huge role in that. They can instantly improve not only aesthetics but your mood and health as well, which is something we all need, especially now. Plus, the act of caring for something even as small as a plant can teach you how to better care for yourself.
Do you have any life lessons you’ve learned from your plants that you’d like to share?
Water yourself first. You cannot pour from an empty cup or truly care for your plants without first caring for yourself. We all grow differently, even if we appear to be exactly the same. Each person and plant is different, and what might work well for you may not work for someone else, and that is completely ok. Share knowledge and embrace diversity because that is what truly makes our community and ecosystem work cohesively.
Do you have any advice for “budding” plant enthusiasts?
Learn from your mistakes. We all start off killing our fair share of plants, but your green thumb is just on the other side of learning about yourself first then finding the right plants to fit your unique environment.
Emerald City Plant Shop helps people find their green thumb and turn their homes into the jungle of their dreams. To keep up with Emerald City Plant Shop, check out their website or follow them on Instagram. To help open the first Black-owned plant shop in Massachusetts, make a donation here.