As a Black woman and small business owner, I’ve learned that being resourceful is a necessity. Representation is so limited, forcing us to constantly forge our own paths to find success. When the pandemic temporarily shut down my Chicago-based beauty business, Nika Vaughan Bridal Artists, our plant-filled storefront studio went quiet. I still had to make the drive down empty highways to get to our studio to water my 200+ plant collection that filled the space. I needed to keep my storefront’s rent paid, and as an avid plant owner, I also had nowhere else to keep my towering 12-foot monstera deliciosa plant, so I was going to need to get creative to keep the revenue coming in.
I didn’t know that a global passion for houseplants would take off that year, but I knew that people loved being in our very curated indoor jungle. I enjoy more eclectic retail spaces, and I wanted to combine my two favorite things to shop for: self-care products and plants.
Plant Salon was born. I rebranded my storefront and treated my new venture like a small business I wanted to nurture and grow long-term. This wasn’t just a venture for survival, Plant Salon represented things that were important to me personally and an investment for my family. I soon found out Plant Salon was the only Black-owned plant shop in Chicago. As protests gripped the city that summer, people would march past the storefront, and then later find their way back to the shop, still holding their signs. Plant Salon was a quiet escape for a lot of people.
Large corporations were also looking for ways to stay engaged with their remote workers, and we started getting inquiries about plant classes. I saw the emergence of virtual experiences as an opportunity to offer corporate gifts and team-building classes. We made gift boxes filled with supplies and shipped them all over the country, and when we got an inquiry from a team spread out over three continents, we then partnered with local plant shops in those countries to get gift boxes where they were needed. For some people, Plant Salon is the first time they’ve had a Black person leading their workshop or class, and I wanted to create personable events that shared my love of plants and self-care.
As the world opened back up, I could just feel that people in general were looking for ways to come together in person. Plant Salon was going to need to evolve again to meet these new needs. In early 2021, we opened a second, larger location including a classroom space. We began hosting private events and featuring classes like “Plant Parent 101” and “Soil Mixing.”
Black and Brown plant lovers in particular love seeing more representation in this niche community.
Where our previous motto was “beautifying people and plants,” Plant Salon is now a space “where community grows.”