Jaclynn Maahs took plant care from childhood chore to full time job. She talks with Ladyboss about her favorite starter plant, the best and worst parts of owning her own business, and why a dying plant can be a positive thing.
Tell us a bit about yourself.
Hi! My name is Jackie Maahs and I own The Plant Supply which focuses on making houseplant ownership fun and easy for everyone. After working for about 10 years in recycling and sustainability I recently decided to make the leap into full time entrepreneurship. Now I spend most of my days caring for plants, making concrete planters, and getting to connect with the community of plant lovers in the Fargo/Moorhead area.
When I am not working on my business I love to spend time with friends and family, explore new local shops and restaurants, and try out new crafting projects. I grew up in southern Minnesota, lived in the Twin Cities for a while, and moved up to the Fargo/Moorhead area in 2017. I now live in Moorhead with my husband and we love being an active part of the community.
How did you get involved in your work?
When I was in junior high my dad put me in charge of my family’s small collection of houseplants, which included a pothos plant, my mom’s African violets, my dad’s prized cactus, and a neglected aloe vera plant. I wasn’t thrilled to add another weekly chore to my list, but over time I grew to enjoy caring for our houseplants, and when I went off to college, I started a small collection of my own. Over the years, that small collection slowly grew and I realized that plant care was something that I truly loved, and I decided I wanted to figure out how to spread this joy of houseplants with others. So, in 2019, I signed up to be a vendor at the Red River Market in Fargo with only a rather vague business plan. With the help of my sister-in-laws I quickly began propagating plants and taught myself how to make pots out of concrete in my Downtown Fargo apartment. I wasn’t sure if anyone would be interested in purchasing them. After our first weekend at the market, I realized that I had found my niche. I loved getting to see the smile on peoples’ faces when they found the perfect new plant and I was so proud of the beautifully modern planters I was able to provide as well. But most importantly, I was so happy to get to chat with people about plants and share my passion for learning and growing through plant care.
Now, two years later, I am continuing to grow and develop The Plant Supply into a business that is focused on learning, growth, and community. I want people to know that you don’t need to care for each of your plants perfectly to be a successful plant parent. All you have to do is commit to learning and growing from each plant experience. With that mission in mind, I now sell plants, handmade concrete planters and plant hangers, and other plant accessories in stores across the region, at markets, and online to plant lovers all over the country.
Can you tell us what is most rewarding about owning your own business?
I think the thing that makes it all worth it for me is the people that I have met through my work with The Plant Supply. I have formed amazing relationships with people that I would have never met if it weren’t for this business and I have learned so much from them. The Fargo/Moorhead community has done so much to support small businesses and I am so grateful for everyone who has been a part of The Plant Supply’s journey.
And maybe something challenging?
The most challenging part is definitely balancing my desire to innovate and grow my business with the need to establish systems and processes to make sure everything is running smoothly. I think a lot of small business owners would say that getting to be creative is one of the best parts of owning a business, but every once in a while you have to reign that creativity in to get things done.
Home gardens really had a moment this year. Why do you think that is and what do you see as the benefits of keeping and caring for plants at home?
The pandemic definitely sparked a houseplant resurgence. When people were stuck at home, houseplants enabled them to bring life and greenery into an otherwise stale situation. As more and more people purchased and shared house plants we also started to see this amazing community of plant lovers develop which built social connection during the pandemic as well.
Plants are great teachers, you can learn a lot about resilience, patience and consistency from plants. I think the thing that I have learned the most from plants is to not be afraid of failure (a.k.a. dying plants). I meet a lot of people who say they don’t want to have plants in their home because they have killed a plant before – but killing plants is all a part of the process. When you kill a plant you learn what not to do, so you can make a change for the next one.
Additionally, plants have some very practical benefits. They produce oxygen and help remove toxins from the air in your home. They also are proven to lower stress levels and increase productivity and concentration – a good reason to add one (or five) to your home office.
The pandemic has subsided, but people’s interest in plants hasn’t; if anything, it seems like it is only continuing to grow.
Any favorite plants for beginners?
My favorite houseplant for beginners, and for myself personally, is a snake plant. Snake plants have a really unique leaf shape that looks like a set of green sword blades coming out of the soil. They come in a variety of colors, shapes, and sizes, and are super easy to care for. They can handle most lighting conditions which makes them easy to add to any room in your home (as long as it has some natural light), and doesn’t need to be watered much more than once every week and a half to two weeks.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve heard recently?
Get more sleep. This isn’t really a new piece of advice, but something that I have been embracing more recently. There is so much research and evidence that sleep is vital to every aspect of our health, and I don’t think we give it enough credit. Over the past few months, I have focused on getting more high quality sleep, and I have definitely seen improvements, especially in my mental and social health.
What do you think women need right now?
It’s difficult to come up with one thing for women as a whole, but speaking from my own experience, something I have been needing and embracing more lately is the permission to rest. It isn’t necessarily that I need permission from others (my husband is a super encourager and supporter of me taking time for myself), but permission from myself. Before I started working on my business full time I was constantly working, whether it be on The Plant Supply or my full time job. Now, I am able to have more flexibility in my schedule, but I often find myself feeling guilty for resting, so when I slow down, I don’t end up feeling recharged. I have found that giving myself permission (whether mentally or even saying it verbally) to do something I know will help me recharge, enables me to fully embrace and utilize that time.