PLNTD in the community
Plntd founders and sisters Danielle and Lauren Gambino knew when they opened their store that setting customers up for success had to be at the forefront of their business.
“A big thing that we wanted to do was provide care cards for every single plant that we sell in the store,” Lauren says. These care cards include the type of plant, the care for it, the story behind it, what it symbolizes and any benefits it may have.
In addition to giving a care card out with every plant someone purchases, this signage is in each section of plants.
“You watch people go to every area and read all of the details and all of the cards and pick the one that works best for their environment, which is cool,” Danielle says.
Plntd gets a lot of plant parents that are just buying maybe their first, second or third plant, but they also have a lot of regulars that come in once a week on plant delivery day. Danielle and Lauren cater to these shoppers as well.
“If we don’t have something in shop, we will source it, we’ll find it, we’ll bring it in for them,” Lauren says. “It’s fun. It kind of keeps us on our toes in every direction.”
Danielle and Lauren Gambino have always had a love for plants, but it wasn’t until 2020 and the COVID-19 pandemic that these sisters decided to turn their hobby into their business.
Danielle had a retail business background, responsible for opening a number of U.S. stores for a British fashion brand — everything from finding the locations and build-outs to hiring and training the team. She is the self-proclaimed “operational person.”
On the other hand, Lauren used to work in television media, primarily with brands on QVC, doing a bit of everything from the backend and wholesale sides to social media and on-camera presentations. Danielle dubs her sister the “creative person.”
“We always toyed with the idea of going into business together,” Lauren says. “As we were on the phone during the pandemic, watering our plants, telling each other about what plant has a new leaf and things like that, we were like, ‘Oh my gosh, it’s plants. Plants are our passion. Let’s open a plant shop.’ So, we hunkered down, did our research, found the perfect location, and we opened the shop together.”
Plntd opened its doors in Jersey City, New Jersey, in October 2021 and has quickly become a staple in the community. Although the store itself is a modest 750 square feet, Plntd’s impact is much larger as it partners with other local businesses, features women-owned creators, and takes innovative events and classes to the next level.
The Power of a Pot
Walking through the pedestrian plaza around Plntd, one will see several uniform white pots with jades in storefront windows, all adorned with “Jersey City.” These are courtesy of Plntd — made apparent on a nearby tag — as a warm welcome to other businesses as they come into the neighborhood.
“It symbolizes new friendships and prosperity,” Danielle says.
Custom printing on pots has also become a profitable part of the business. Plntd will personalize small orders, such as an important date for a single customer or favors for a bridal shower, to much larger orders, such as luxury apartment buildings.
“An apartment building, they’ll send us a number at the start of every month of how many new move-ins they have, and we pot a plant for every person that moves into the building,” Lauren says. “We always go for the Wandering Dudes because they love the story behind it. We pot a Wandering Dude in the custom planter that has the building’s logo printed directly on it.”
With a lot of new businesses going up in the area, Lauren and Danielle have also seen a huge uptick in home and business consultation business.
“These new buildings want to add green to their lobby and common spaces, so they get us involved. We do a consultation and then we do a big install of all their plants, green walls, moss walls,” Lauren says. “Then we do the maintenance as well, so we’ll do the maintenance package whether we did the plant installation or not.”
Sourcing Local Products
“When we started the store, we wanted more than just plants,” Danielle says. “We wanted it to be more wellness, too.”
Plntd’s tagline includes plants first and foremost, followed by wellness, home and apothecary. To make its store unique and accomplish the latter three aspects of the business, Danielle and Lauren started attending markets — around town but also a few hours away — and finding like-minded creators.
“We met with all these incredible women who sold their own products, and we learned all these struggles that women have in business on their own, whether it be not being able to market themselves, or a lot of them would say the same thing, ‘I’m on Etsy and you have to really scroll to find my products,’” Lauren says.
Danielle adds that they immediately knew that “this is such an opportunity for us to showcase all these women.”
Alongside the candles, greeting cards and other products at the store is a placard with the artisan’s photo, her story, and her Instagram or website, so people can find and learn more about her and her other products that Plntd may not offer.
“It’s all been very organic, which we love,” Lauren says. “And now with the shop being open, a lot of people come in and give us their business card or bring in a sample of their products.”
To test out new products — and expand the square footage beyond the retail store — Plntd features a different business outside at a table every Saturday and Sunday, weather permitting.
Plntd’s partnerships with other local women go beyond the products to the events as well. Danielle and Lauren started their events with “Yoga and Plants” when they first opened.
They bring in a yoga instructor and clear out the whole floor of the store. “People love it,” Lauren says. “We can fit about 12 mats in the shop, put all the humidifiers on, and it becomes such a peaceful yet jungle-y retreat to practice yoga.”
They also do tarot card readings in the shop about once a month and host several public classes, from succulent pumpkin classes to terrariums to moss art making, and a variety of private classes, from bachelorette parties to kids and adult birthday parties.
“At the shop we can do up to 12 people since we’re on the smaller side, but if we go anywhere else, we can do the capacity of wherever that place is,” Lauren says. They recently did an off-site 5-year-old’s birthday party.
“The kids started by painting their pot and then while we let the pots dry, we did a little educational plant bingo with them,” Danielle says. “They were very into making mud with the spray bottles and the dirt, of course.”
The kids get to keep little aprons and gloves along with the personalized pot they created and their new plant.
Plntd’s company values — seen posted in the shop — are wellbeing, adaptability, community, growth and eco-friendly practices.
“Everything that we do, we try to always make sure that we’re hitting all or most of those with every new direction we’re going in, with every new brand that we’re bringing in, with every new product that we’re ordering,” Lauren says, “that it falls within those values so that we’re staying true to who we are.”
The store’s first Christmas, Danielle and Lauren tried to bring in some larger trees, but it was really the mini ones that ended up being popular. These small lessons learned don’t become detrimental, however, largely because of Plntd’s ability to adapt.
“We do a good job of being very reactionary to things,” Lauren says. “When we do try something new, we do it in a small way at first, so that it doesn’t feel like a huge letdown if it didn’t work out.”
A new business no doubt comes with its challenges, but when asked about what hasn’t worked out well in the first couple years of the business, Danielle and Lauren had a hard time coming up with anything.
“It feels like a ‘pinch-me’ moment everyday,” Lauren says. “Like, ‘Oh, my gosh, we actually have a store.’”
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