Growing Happiness: 10 Questions the Plant Purveyors @ IvyMay & Co.
P L A N T S. Can we please take a moment to talk about how amazing these things are? SRSLY THO—who doesn't love a good dose of gorgeous greenery?
Beyond the science, ("Hey Siri, what is phytoremediation?") plants gift us so much. They brighten up rooms, bringing beautiful life to space—and caring for them can be therapeutic even if you weren't gifted a green thumb.
As growing grassroots business, we love nothing more than partnering up with other local business. Holding it down in San Diego grants us access to all kinds of epic establishments. Last year, when our team received a surprise Father's Day delivery from a plant purveyor by the named IvyMay & Co, we knew something special had just landed on our doorstep. A friendship soon blossomed...
Founded in 2020 by Tammy Nguyen and Cody Warden, IvyMay & Co is a hands-on, feel-good, full-service plant delivery operation. They hand-select, clean, manicure, and organically fertilize beautiful plants prior to finding them new homes.
Recently we enlisted their many talents to deck out our Iced Tea Lemonade launch video—and boy, did they ever. To keep the party going, we wanted to introduce you to 'em (formally) and make the world a smaller place.
Enjoy our convo with Tammy!
So… Why plants? (Broad question, we know…)
Tammy: We started this business during the Covid pandemic, hoping to brighten people’s moods while they were stuck inside. Plants make homes feel so much more alive and we wanted to provide free delivery to make it as easy as possible to add life into their homes without actually having to leave.
What was the first project you graced us with greenery for?
The JuneShine trailer in North Park was our first project. Kahana hit us up to see if we could put some plants in there for his Friday DJ sets.
You’re almost a year into your business! 1. Congrats. 2. How’s it going?
Thank you! It seems like so much longer than a year. It’s AMAZING and has turned into so much more than we could’ve ever hoped for. Not only has our business really taken off, but the connections we’ve made with the community has really been the highlight of it all. Our business brought us our relationship with JuneShine!
Our biggest challenges stem from the fact that we started this plant business out of our second story apartment in Pacific Beach where we turned our spare bedroom into a nursery filled with shelves, humidifiers, potting stations, the whole 9 yards. We used to roll plants up and down an elevator every single day to replenish inventory and fulfill orders. We faced a Covid related termination of our apartment lease and had less than 60 days notice to find a new place to live and to run the business. Finding where we could legally run a plant business without opening a retail location didn’t give us many options. We ended up renovating a chicken coop (yes, there were actual chickens in it until we moved in) into our office and storage space and built a greenhouse extension to the back of it.
Patience pays off! We ended up meeting a really nice palm tree business owner 4 blocks from where our coop is who offered to let us build a greenhouse and run our business on his land. It’s where we will have a retail location and shipping fulfillment center out of within the next couple of months.
Science aside, personally, why do you (really) think plants make people so happy?
I think there’s something to be said about learning the different types of plants, their specific needs and admiring their different shapes and patterns. Mastering the care for each type and watching them grow as a result makes it a fun hobby and some could even consider it a talent or an art.
Tell us about the greenery gathering and loading process for this specific ITL shoot?
We didn’t want anyone to lose sleep over whether or not we were going to bring enough plants, so we rented a ridiculous sized van for transportation. Some of the plants that we couldn’t find from our suppliers were actually borrowed from the local plant community. I told them their plant was going to be in a JuneShine commercial and they were so stoked on it!
I think we ended up bringing 123 plants to the shoot. That’s 123 plants we brought up and down 11 stories at the shoot location, ha - Pretty sure it took me 3 whole days to physically recover from that.
Do you yourself have an actual favorite plant? And if so, why?
I do have a favorite plant! I’m a sucker for all things blue so my blue star fern is my favorite. His name is ZIGGY. I put Ziggy outside for sun with a sign that he’s just getting some light and to not worry - he has not been abandoned. He also gets strapped in for car rides. Safety first.
What’s your favorite thing about doing what you do?
My favorite thing is that I actually love every part of it, despite the challenges. The creative people we work with on our own team and external teams too. I’ve learned more about business, problem-solving, perseverance and myself in 9 months than I ever thought was possible.
Any parallels between growing plants and growing a business?
More parallels than you’d expect! Plants teach us to trust our own journey, to place ourselves where we actually thrive instead of placing ourselves where others thrive. And most importantly, they teach us that slow growth is still growth.
Funniest delivery story to date?
When we first started, Cody was our only delivery driver. He covered everything from Escondido to San Ysidro. During one of his stops, he’s walking through an apartment complex when someone’s pomeranian got loose. Well, he thought it was a good idea to try and say “hi” to the pup but instead was chased and continuously barked at around the complex. So Cody, who is 6’ and also a boxing coach, was just desperately searching for the unit with plants in his arms, running through the complex, trying not to get his ankles bit by this tiny floofy dog. Luckily, he found the unit and the recipient wasn’t home to see it -though they probably wish they were! But no worries, Cody walked- ran away unharmed.
3 easy tips for someone who can’t seem to keep plants alive!
Here are the top 3 tips I wish knew back when I killed every plant that I had.