Burbank’s black-owned plant shop is a joy to COVID-19

Burbank’s store is eclectic with its fair trade garlands, plants and mobiles made of metal bells and mobiles, and pom-poms as suncatchers. Customers love her ability to mix patterns, colors, and prints.

Her bohemian shop is very popular in a time where people spend more time at home.

“This is what my house looks like,”Christian spoke about Tansy, which she shared with her long-time friend Colette fowler. They met as sophomores at Grant High School. “It’s all about color and plants and fabrics. I am trying to perfect the art of being insanely creative without being claustrophobic. I like throwing different colors and patterns together that shouldn’t go together but ultimately work.”

Shawna Christian, and Colette Fowler are co-owners of Tansy.

(Mariah Tauger / Los Angeles Times)

Her professional life wasn’t always like this. Christian quit her job after managing an IT company for more than 20 years. “I had raised my kids and put them through school,”She spoke. “I turned 50 and realized I wanted to do something different before I passed away. So I spent all of my money and opened a plant store.”

 

The store failed to succeed after the first stay-at home order one year ago. But in May, however, the store was able to reopen. Sales rose as people became more passionate about houseplants and influencers encouraged them to support Black-owned business.In the face of increasing racial awareness.

“Our followers and customers, even Google and Yelp all reached out to us, wanting to promote us because we are a Black-owned business,”She spoke.

She’s not complaining. She acknowledged that it was still difficult for her to absorb the attention. “I’m proud of being Black,”She spoke. “But it’s hard for me to grasp that our revenue doubled solely based on my skin color.”

She continued: “I would like to be revered as a female-owned business too.”

Christian spoke out on plant matters and how the pandemic affected her small business in a Q&A.

It’s a little overwhelming when you first walk into Tansy. Tansy, what would you describe as your style?

It’s bohemian and ethnically driven. It’s more than just plants. Ninety percent of our home decordonated by artists and charities around the world. We represent almost all countries around the globe. It is so much fun to have people ask questions. ‘Do you have anything from Portugal?” and we can say ‘Yes.’

Tansy, a heartfelt home decor, and plant store co-owned by best friends Shawna Christian and Colette Fowler.

(Mariah Tauger / Los Angeles Times)

Do you have any? Tips for parents of new plants

People who are not familiar with plants or are just beginning to learn about them should slow down. It is a slow and tedious process. It’s not easy to Buy 15 plants. You can make small home improvements without spending a lot of money. You can also use the discount zone outside. “Adoption center” – plants that aren’t dead, but still need some love and attention. Enjoy the little things and slow down. Spend $10 to receive a 4-inch pothos as well as a terracotta bloom that will brighten your day. This is a great spot to begin the process.

Can you buy 15 plants at once?

Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! Our plant sales have risen dramatically. This was a joke by my husband. “Only you would open a shop just before the pandemic to have the one thing everyone wants.”

What do your customers really want?

People wanted something different and unique before the pandemic. They need plants in order to hold Zoom meetings, clean their air, and take good care of their plants. People are being forced into slowing down. People are looking at their homes, and wishing to improve them.

What plants are the best to start with?

ZZ plants, sansevierias, dracaenas, as well as certain pothos and Philodendrons, as well as peace lilies and Philodendrons are not neon or snow queens.

 

A look inside the Tansy plant store in Burbank.

(Mariah Tauger / Los Angeles Times)

Do you know what your business philosophy is?

It’s like my home. It’s a sanctuary. It is a sanctuary that people are often amazed by. I want people to feel transformed every time they visit my store. I want them shopping to feel happy, safe, and secure. That’s what this shop is based upon.

As a woman- and Black-owned business, do you feel like you’ve had hurdles that others have not?

That’s a yes-and-no answer. Yes, there were struggles for me to do something like this but I don’t think it’s because I’m a woman or I’m Black. This is what I will say, with a caveat. I don’t want to say that it’s not an issue for other people. I was an experienced entrepreneur and knew what to do. If I hadn’t had all of that experience, it would have been daunting for me to start a business in California. There aren’t many resources available for women and people of colour. They are not easy to find. I’ve been in business for two years, and I just found out about the California Women’s Business Center. They were recommended by a friend, who had been in business for ten-years. Did you know that 911 is an option? Did you know that 911 is available? Call 211 for social and mental help? This is something that nobody knows. I feel the same way about organizations that help women and minorities. It’s so hard to find these places. It can feel as though you are losing before you even start.

Favorite plant

 

An illustration of a pilea peperomioides

Pilea Peperomioides is also known as a Chinese Money Plant.

(Micah Fluellen / Los Angeles Times)

Pilea peperomioidesThe Chinese money plant, also known by the ‘Chinese money plant’. We put four-inch pileas in our shop’s window the first day we opened. They now stand at about a foot tall. Those are our babies. They have a fascinating history. They were only available to people who pulled out the babies and gave them to them as long-term gifts. About three years ago, nurseries realized that people loved them — they were Pinterest is everywhere — so they started selling them. They are also known to be the friend plant. You can give a baby of their mother root system as a gift to a friend.

Shawna Christian and Colette Fowler, the co-owners of Tansy plant shop.
Shawna Christian and Colette Fowler are the co-owners at Tansy’s plant shop.

(Mariah Tauger / Los Angeles Times)

There were many events that you hosted before the pandemic. Are you a facilitator or a community space?

We also did baby showers, birthday parties, and terrarium-building workshops. There is definitely a sense of community in our shop.

One of my favorite things about our shop is that we have a group for preteen girls aged 9-13 who love the boho look. They help out weekends. They learn about customer service, business, and how to help customers. They also learn about plants and offer advice to new parents. They also get to see that it’s females running the show. It’s been incredible.

What are you most looking forward to when the pandemic restrictions are lifted

Don’t let what we can do limit you. I took my freedoms for granted. I’m looking forward to not being nervous anymore and feeling like we can all go on with our lives again. People will be grateful for our creativity and color in their neighborhoods. It will continue to be that way.

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