Brenda Wanga- Omondi’s gardenpreneur roots run deep going back to her grandparents who ignited the passion for plants.
Now as an adult, Potted Treasures, her company that deals with everything plants – plants for indoor, outdoor and balconies, green wall installations and landscaping, stands as the fruit of her passion.
“There might lack space for anything else but never for a plant. There’s always space for a plant,” she says, while at The Manhattan, located in Imaara Mall, Nairobi. The third-generation gardener is behind the greenery at the club.
She’s also the brains behind the exterior plants at the mall.
“Prior to this, I was running a restaurant whose interior décor was founded on plants. Now and then someone would walk in, and compliment her on the look and how it made them feel. Some would ask me to give them one of the plants. Instead of giving them away, I’d sell them. This went on for a while and I noted the need,” the 35-year-old entrepreneur says.
When the Covid-19 pandemic, hit turning the hospitality industry upside down, she ventured into gardening services. Her first project was in a restaurant – Rustic Haven – where the owner wanted touches of green within the facility. The end product was spectacular.
She’s gone on to work in many other spaces including the Bar Next Door, The Governor’s Lounge, and BottleTop.
According to her, having plants in built spaces is for good, if not better, for the emotional, mental and physical well-being of people.
“Besides bringing a prosperous vibe since green is associated with prosperity, plants bring class to a space, cleans the air, level up the aesthetics, and lead to less noise. They also create a calming atmosphere which counters depression,” the director of Environment at the Rotary Club of Karengata explains.
But even with such positive reasons for plants in built spaces, many shy away from it.
“We don’t think we need green spaces (something the pandemic challenged) and secondly, most people are scared. They assume that plants are delicate, requiring a lot of care and time commitment, which they genuinely don’t have,” the Baraton University graduate reveals.
However, it’s not that plants are delicate and easy to kill. It’s that we don’t know which plants are best for where she adds. To address this, information is her weapon. The light that stamps out the darkness of misinformation.
Not only are Potted Treasures clients taught the ‘why’ and the ‘what’ of plants, but they’re also trained on plant care. For busy people and businesses, maintenance services are offered.
So, what are the tips for successful plants in built spaces? The gardenpreneur notes three key things: lighting, human traffic, and interior design.
Light and human traffic dictate the choice of plant. Some require more light while others are happiest in the dark. Plants are also best placed where they are undisturbed to avoid injury.
“Finally, we want plants that match the already existing furniture or that will best complement or highlight your space,” the plant enthusiast notes.
For a restaurant, she works with bamboo because they are big, bushy and low maintenance. They’re also good for screening thus providing privacy.
Most types of palms are perfect for those looking to bring in a tropical feel, while monsteras, anthuriums, and alocasias are the cornerstones of a Zen atmosphere. Go for bright-colored and variegated plants to spice up the outdoor spaces in a built environment.
Potted Treasures also install green walls and green ceilings. These last longer and are easy to maintain. They’re also versatile as they allow for creative styling and designing to meet client specifications, breathing life, pomp and colour to these bare spaces.
“My business grew extensively during the Covid-19 pandemic, as the world locked us out from nature as we knew. I birthed many first-time plant parents during that time at home and in offices,” she explains, adding that 90 percent of her business is from referrals.
“However, I still have to explain to people the advantages of plants mostly because there’s a cost involved.”
To ensure a wide collection of plants, the company has a nursery and works with other partners to supply what they don’t have.
The greatest joy for the founder of Potted Treasures and her team of eight is when new plant parents come for a second plant.
“This goes to show how important information, and walking the journey with newbies is vital in dismantling fears,” the passionate environmentalist says.
With the walls of nature closing in on us, thanks to climate change, Ms Wanga-Omondi doesn’t just sell plants for profit.
“Plants are not just for business but planet. I hope to change the world a plant here and there, and encourage us to embrace nature by beginning right where we are, within these concrete jungles that we can’t do without.”