Right in the heart of Midtown at the intersection of 10th and Hudson, a tiny white house in the middle of an empty field has a line of people waiting to get in.
While it is definitely an odd sight at first glance, what you’ll find inside is a vast green array of house plants.
Better known as Plant People, this local business is one of Oklahoma City’s newest plant shops and they are defying the odds as they opened up in July during a historic economic crisis.
Free Press interviewed the owners, Brenda Flores and Christina Carter, who shared their unique story of going from plant lovers to business owners.
This piece kicks off Free Press’s coverage of local businesses around the Oklahoma City metro area during the pandemic. In the weeks to come, expect more reporting on Oklahoma City businesses who have managed to make do in this pandemic economy.
Carter grew up with plants around the house and when her mother passed away, she started her own collection in remembrance of her. As her collection grew, Flores took notice and was inspired to get her first plant.
The two always talked about wanting to build a greenhouse and they said that their friendship grew partly due to their love of plants. And once the pandemic hit, the stars aligned for a special opportunity to arise.
When they went to dinner with Carter’s sister-in-law, Megan Rinehart, owner of Local Lather, they discovered that Rinehart was looking to sell her tiny home.
“It kind of was a joke…we were kind of like ‘oh, a plant house,’ Flores explained. “We were just going to have dinner that day [with Rinehart]. We ended up staying until like two in the morning talking about the future of having a plant store together.”
Later on, the duo purchased the tiny home and connected with the Independent Shopkeepers Association, a non-profit that helps local businesses in Oklahoma, who helped Plant People find a location to set up shop.
Opening up During a Pandemic
Just weeks before opening day, Carter and Flores were nervous. Flores had never owned a business before and neither had owned a business with a partner. There were also a lot of financial risks on the line.
Carter is an insurance agent who works predominantly with senior citizens, so the pandemic halted her business. Flores worked as a house cleaner and a dental assistant, so being a plant shop owner was a new challenge for the two.
Plant People was also not only a business venture but an avenue for supporting their families as well. They also feared for their own safety.
“I think the pandemic was one of our biggest worries because we have been keeping our circle really tight, especially with our families and our kids, so we were a little nervous opening that circle being open weekly,” Flores said.
Despite their worries, Plant People has done better than expected and has received a high amount of support from other local plant shops and neighboring businesses.
“I think business went definitely better than we could’ve imagined,” Carter said. “I knew there were some plant lovers out there…but I would’ve never thought that we could actually contribute to our family in the way that we have.”
Two Moms and Two Business Women
Carter and Flores work well as business partners because they are mothers who need to dedicate more of their time watching their kids who are attending school remotely.
“We both agreed that this business would not overtake our family life,” Carter said.
“We really didn’t know…if we would be busy enough [to be open] five or six days a week, but then at the same time now [our kids] are at home, so we’ve got to like really still focus on our kids and then dedicate Thursday, Friday and Saturday to just really help our business.”
Plant People is only open from Thursday to Saturday, but the store has managed to develop a strong social media presence with its Instagram account.
Advising plant parents
Owning small plants and becoming a “plant parent” has turned into a trend, which has served in the duo’s favor. On Instagram, they post weekly pictures of plants along with educational content about plant care.
“People message us with their questions about their plants…and I think we’ve built some really good connections with our customers through Instagram,” Carter said.
“A lot of the customers we’ve spoken to, the pandemic has really encouraged more plants coming into their home because everyone is home more. It might have been a hobby that no one really talked about until now.”
When visiting the shop, customers can take a photo with their newly-purchased plant in front of Plant People’s logo, which helps increase the shop’s online presence.
Julie Brock Smith visited Plant People for the first time with her daughter Anna Smith who is a plant enthusiast and found the place first.
“I like how it’s really put together and it just feels really homey and you walk in and you’re just surrounded by the green and the plants,” Anna said.
Still a Growing Business
Plant People has required a lot of hard work to maintain, especially during Oklahoma’s historic ice storm this past November.
Flores did not have power for two weeks and was concerned that the plant shop would have been impacted by the cold weather.
Thankfully, the shop did not lose power and no plants were harmed during the storm, but Flores said that that scenario is an example of the “what ifs” that they’re still trying to be aware of as a plant shop.
However, the shop has its perks—one being portable as a tiny home. In the past, Plant People has done pop-ups at Uptown 23rd Farmers Market and Scissortail Park.
“It really has been a blessing for both of us,” Flores remarked. At the end of the day, the two love their business because it helps them connect their passion with their careers.