Jenna Holmes is the founder and creative director of Plant Mama - a design studio residing in Collingwood, Melbourne. Plant Mama is an ode to the women and avid gardeners in her family, those who were the original Plant Mamas. She is a plant designer, stylist, and creative-green-thumb who is dedicated to creating houseplant culture through the aesthetic exploration of indoor and outdoor greens.
You have created such a unique and successful business. Why plants and how did the idea of Plant Mama evolve?
I grew up with plants all throughout the yard and inside my house. When I moved out at 18, I didn't inject any greenery into my space until I moved to Melbourne and became overwhelmed by all the cement buildings. I slowly started to add green to my house and realised how much better I felt. As I grew my plant collection, I realised that other people wanted and needed greenery too.
When did you know that this is what you wanted to do?
After the first few jobs where the clients were exceedingly happy, I realised that I enjoyed giving that feeling to people. When I found myself working seven days a week in the first few years, I knew that this is what I wanted to do because every morning I chose to to get up and do it. I didn't feel like I HAD to, I felt as though I WANTED to.
Have there been any challenges or setbacks that you've had to overcome?
As any business owners would agree, the setbacks have been huge. There are so many things that pop up along the journey that require a skillset you initially don't have. Once you address the problem, learn from it and move forward, then the next lot of setbacks are faced by a stronger person. You have to remember that it is all part of the journey and if there weren’t any setbacks then everyone would be doing it. You have to learn to roll with the bad parts as much as you do with the great parts.
What are the best plants that you can have in your home and what are your top tips for looking after them?
Devils Ivy and Monstera are the easiest to begin with! They can function in most, if not all rooms (except completely dark ones), and they only need basic care to keep them thriving. Water them every 7-10 days when the soil is dry.
When do you feel most in your groove? What are you doing?
When I am doing an install alone onsite, with super loud music and my little assistant (dog) Sprout.
If you could give any advice to people who want to start their own business or work for themselves, what would you say?
1. Start now and don't worry about your service or product being perfect. It will never be perfect and starting now means that you are closer to getting the feedback to make it the best.
2. You need a support system around you. People to ask questions, get opinions from and bounce ideas off. Keep your ideas and plans within the right circle, but sometimes chatting out loud to other people allows for other things to be created.
3. Be smart with cash flow. I had a side job when I started Plant Mama as there was no way I was going to be able to pay my rent purely from that when I started. Make sure you have something that can pay the bills and doesn't demand that your new business or project pays for it all. It’s great if you have the cash flow to start a business by going 100% in, but most people don't need to put themselves under that stress.
4. Get used to things going wrong from time to time. You must actively learn from those experiences otherwise you will never get anywhere. Things will go wrong in order to show you how they can go right. If you ignore those lessons then you won't get far. Every experience is here to teach us.
Jenna Holmes aka Plant Mama - @plantmama_
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WORDS BY JENNA HOLMES