Décor & Gardening
When Karen Rothwell started redecorating her home in January last year she had no idea that it was the start of an exciting new journey and business venture for her. Having always loved plants and gardening, Karen realised she needed some plants inside to finish off her décor.
It was around the same time, she says, that her family started feeling the effects of the bad odours and air pollution due to waste being dumped in the Upper Highway area.
“I read an article about air pollution in China being reduced with plants and thought it was a great idea. We tried air purifiers, but they are noisy and we found them impractical.”
Karen decided to try bringing plants into her home, but wasn’t sure which plants would grow well inside. She contacted her friend Colette Norris who lives on a farm and runs a wholesale plant nursery, and Colette dropped off a few plants for Karen to try out. Karen decided to keep them all! Her next challenge though, was finding beautiful pots to put them in.
It was while they were chatting over a few drinks one evening last May that Karen says they came up with the idea to start their own business.
As the secretary of the South African Nursery Association (SANA) Colette is well connected in the plant industry and they launched their business, Pureleaf, six weeks later at the ECR House & Garden Show with Tanya Visser of The Gardener. They were also interviewed on the documentary television programme, 50/50.
“It was a real baptism of fire, but it went off so well. We created a list of plants that would work well inside and then found a local supplier for ceramic pots and planters in different shapes and sizes,” says Karen. All the wooden pots are made from off cuts on the farm in Hammersdale.
“Both plantscaping and online shopping are quite new in South Africa, so we were in unchartered territory. But the response to date has been amazing.”
Realising that there was a need for similar services on the North Coast, Pureleaf partnered with Ballito local Jacqui Oldreive, who is also passionate about plants and interior décor and started the North Coast branch, called Urban Green Interiors.
“So many people are scared of putting plants in their home for fear of ‘killing’ them. But plants adapt to their surroundings well, if they are looked after properly. Often too much water and ‘love’ is the reason plants die,” says Karen.
Pureleaf and Urban Green Interiors offer full plantscaping services, which means they will come into your home and do a free consultation and then advise you on what plants to put where in your home. And they can supply you with beautiful pots, planters or terrariums to suit your décor. The team then install the plants and can even maintain them for you, if you require.
“We work closely with our clients and within their budget. It’s a collaborative process,” says Jacqui, who has been extremely busy since opening the North Coast sister company.
“We are just a small, homegrown business and all of us are mothers and wives and have other jobs. But this is our passion.”
Details: www.urbangreeninteriors.co.za 082 414 7182.
Text: Leah Shone