What a pleasure it was to talk to Maria from Plant Stand Collective today. I was amazed to hear her story of how the shop came to be, and so impressed that it all happened during the Pandemic. Make sure to read to the end to learn about her super cute pup Lucy!
How Did Plan Stand Collective Get Started?
I used to be an art teacher. When the pandemic hit, I was just in this transition of getting back to being creative and learning things that I just hadn’t had time for.
Plant Stand Collective Was Born In The Pandemic.
I’ve always been a plant person. My grandmother and my mother all have green thumbs so we always had a house full of plants. I started painting some of the pots that were in my house that were old just because I was bored right during the pandemic.
My parents have a place in Lake Geneva and my daughter and I and my parents all stayed down in Lake Geneva where nothing really shut down. It was kind of the wild, wild west in Wisconsin.
I would talk to friends on Zoom and they would say, you know, you should sell those pots. So I decided to try.
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I Started Selling My Painted Pots
I rented a space at a farmer’s market and set up a table and called my friends that were artists that I knew were struggling. I said, “Hey, I’m gonna do this Farmer’s market. Do you wanna send me some of your work and I’ll try and sell it?”
That’s where the “collective” aspect of the business was born. From the very beginning it was a collective, not of people giving me plants, but of being a collective community of just like, how can we get through this time?
At that time, I neve, ever anticipated that plants and collective would be a retail spot on Broadway, in Chicago when I was in Lake Geneva. And so my friends sent me their work and I was selling my pots and then someone said, you know, if you put a plant in it, it would probably be really popular, and you could get more money for it. I thought that was a great idea, so I started propagating my own plants and selling them with the pots.
We had family members that had a restaurant on the south side, and it was struggling like everybody during the pandemic. They had a space on the second floor, which was a party spot, and they couldn’t use it due to max capacity rules during the pandemic. I was using their space to do pop-ups for the pots and plants. I would give people a free horchata with a purchase of a plant. That way when they went down to redeem their drink, they were more likely to order other things as well from the restaurant. Since I wasn’t paying rent, I was at least giving back in some way.
I’ve always had this mindset of how can I give back.
Moving The Pot & Plant Business To Broadway
This new endeavor became incredibly successful and I went from doing the pop ups from once a month to every weekend in the summer of 2020. While this was all going on, I just happened to meet my landlord one day and they mentioned having three vacant storefronts on Broadway, one of which is where I’m at now.
She said, “You know, I’ve got this space, If you wanna use it for four weeks, do what you can for four weeks.”
I couldn’t believe the response from the community in this neighborhood, the only word I could use is wild. It was wild how people were just coming in, buying and buying and selling me out almost every weekend. After the four weeks my landlord said, “well, do you wanna stay through the holidays?” And then it was like, “well, why don’t you stay through spring and then we’ll talk.”
A year became two years and now we’re going into our third year. So it really just feels like WILD is the word to express this journey. It’s wild to me that I was able to start something in 2020 and you know, grow, grow and grow since then.
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What Is One Thing You’d Love Our Neighbors In Lakeview East To Know About Your Business?
Supporting my community is something I’ve always believed in. Being part of the community, giving back to the community and helping out in whatever way I can is important to me.
We Are Community Oriented
I have this platform now, and a storefront, so if I can help anyone who’s starting out, like an artist, or a maker, I have done that. We’re currently up to over 50 vendors in our shop. Not all of them are local, but a lot of them are.
We Donate To Feeding People Through Plants
We partner with feeding people through plants, which is run by Andy Robledo. Andy owns his own plant business and has a non-for-profit that is called feeding People through Plants.
So we sell a portion of his plants and a hundred percent of those proceeds go to helping the homeless community in Chicago. Andy is like literally on the ground getting tents to people who need a safe, dry, warm place in the wintertime and all year really.
We also do a plant of the week and 15% of those proceeds go to feeding people through plants too. We rotate donations at times for our plant of the week.
Tell Me About The Freida Collection In Your Store
The Freida collection is painted by, one of our vendors who’s been with me since the very beginning, since those popups at the restaurant.
She just does a great job of her hand painted pods and they are wildly popular. I happen to be a Freida lover and you know, I said earlier I was an art teacher, my classroom used to be filled with Freida. My students would do these little scavenger hunts of how many Freida’s were in the room.
So the Freida collection is just always kind of present.
Are You More Of A Dog Person Or A Cat Person?
I am an animal person, I love all animals. But I would have to say that I am absolutely a dog person. I’m allergic to cats, so makes it a little bit more difficult to be a cat person.
We are pet friendly in our shop, you can bring your dog in anytime and Lucy will be there to greet them. We also have treats for our dogs. We love our puppy customers, so, you know, if anybody ever wants to come in and get something new or say hi to Lucy, they’re always welcome.
Tell Us A Little About Your Pup Lucy
She’s a little beagle / bassett hound mix. I got her two years ago and I think she’s eight. I’m not really sure. They told me she was six, but sometimes she acts a lot older and sometimes she acts a lot younger.
She is a little bit camera shy, whenever I take a picture of her, she likes to turn away.
What Is The Best Way For Our Audience To Connect With You?
The best way to connect with me personally is through Instagram DM. It’s quicker and easier than an email.