| Carsen Smithwick

Meet Plantérature

Husband and wife duo Melissa and Shawn Farlow turned their love for plants and books into a business that has allowed them to share these passions. Melissa mulled over the idea of starting a plant business after taking interest in plants several years ago. While thinking of ways to differentiate their business from other plant businesses, they had been discussing the closure of Cottonwood Books, one of Shawn’s regular haunts. They realized the best way to differentiate themselves came from combining Shawn’s love for books with Melissa’s passion for plants. Being able to share both elements with the public put them in their happy place, giving them the chance to share this happiness with everyone. Shawn states that most of their major life decisions tend to be rash, and their business name derived from a similar circumstance. During a brainstorming session on a road trip, they played with various synonyms of “plant” and “book,” discovering the mixture of plant + literature fit the best. Because of their love for French culture, Melissa added the accent aigu over the “e,” officially landing on Plantérature.

One of Shawn and Melissa’s goals with their business is to help customers get excited about plants and books by helping them on their plant and/or reading journey. They do this by making sure their products are “new to gently read” by personally assessing each book they come across, only selling books that they would personally display in their own collection. They also choose plants that are in the best condition, and strive to have a vast selection to choose from, especially plants that are unique conversation pieces. Their products are reasonably priced to avoid cost being a barrier in someone’s journey. Shawn and Melissa would rather sell a book or plant at cost, or donate it outright, so that person can also experience the duo’s passions.

One piece of advice the duo would give to those starting their plant journey is to never give up and be okay with failure every now and then. Melissa states that like most hobbies, it takes a little patience and a lot of research. Neither started off with a green thumb, but after they were able to “pick up some tips and tricks via osmosis,” Melissa jokes that their home is on its way to their own level of Jumanji. During their Plantérature journey, Melissa has been able to share her passion with Shawn about plants, and vice versa. Shawn credits their intern, Brooke, for also sharing her book knowledge with Melissa. He states that without Brooke, the couple wouldn't be where they are today. They are constantly learning about each other's passions, and just want to share those passions with everyone they can.

Shawn and Melissa specialize in “hard to kill” and pet-safe plants to further help those starting their plant journey. With diligence, any drooping or sick plant can be brought back. They also believe that a plants’ success comes from naming them, talking to them, and giving them daily positive energy. If you are unsure of where to start, the two are more than happy to help you pick a plant that will best fit your environment. Melissa will most likely suggest monsteras due to their hole configurations. The more mature the monstera is, the more hole configurations its new leaves will have. When she purchased her first monstera, Monty, he started with 3 baby leaves. She left him on the shelf above her bathtub, and four years later, he now has 2 support poles and can barely fit in a corner. Nerve plants and peace lilies are her least favorite because of how dramatic they are when thirsty - they’ll most likely end up looking like they haven’t been watered in months when it’s only been a few hours. (Fortunately, they perk back up as quickly as they droop, but I can personally attest that they can be difficult to manage!)

Recently, Plantérature began selling “Pick-Up Line” books - their version of the “Blind Date with a Book” idea. Since it was something other people were already doing well, they wanted to make it something that was uniquely theirs. Instead of hiding the identity of the book and giving a synopsis to create mystery, they wanted something that was more attention-grabbing. Good books no longer start with “Once Upon a Time,” but rather a hook that immediately grabs the reader to set the tone of the book. Shawn and Melissa decided the best way to intrigue a buyer was to make that hook the ONLY thing they’d know about the book. Melissa designed the package for the books, and the idea immediately became a hit. They’ve had people tell them they don’t even want to unwrap it, instead using them as a decorative piece in their homes. These Pick-Up Line books are also currently for sale inside Local Supply, along with a selection of their plants! Currently, the two are throwing around ideas for other sale ventures for when they decide to get a brick and mortar store. They want to be able to offer something that conjures the same feelings of love and passion as books and plants do. They are excited to finally share their ideas once they start making moves in that direction.

You can typically find Shawn and Melissa at Local Pop Up markets on the last Saturday of the month. They love visiting other vendor’s tents like Laced with Sunshine, Clay Corner, Grinning Jupiter Jammery, and Kaydipity Krafts. These were some of the first vendors they met when starting the Local Pop Up markets, and are glad to find friends in them. When they aren’t at markets or sourcing books and plants, Shawn spends his free time playing video games, participating in Dungeons and Dragons campaigns, and reading. His current author obsession is Brandon Sanderson, and is currently playing Baldur’s Gate 3 and Sea of Stars. As a family, they enjoy playing golf,  traveling with their daughter, spoiling their two pups, and cooking. Melissa spends her free time thrifting and repurposing, getting her hands dirty with potting soil, and listening to music. The two met through mutual friends after attending the same parties and social events. Quickly, they realized they had many commonalities like passions, worldviews, and interests. Within 9 months they were engaged because they knew they'd met the right person, and will be celebrating 15 years of marriage next year!

You’ll be able to find Shawn and Melissa at White Light Night, one of the biggest markets of the year, on November 17th from 6-10PM! Alongside them will be 80 other vendors set up at Electric Depot, so come for a night of shopping, listening to live music, and supporting all things local.

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