Meet the Female Duo Breaking Ground in the Plant Business and Wellness Space
During the months spent at home in self-quarantine, many people developed a green thumb, utilizing houseplants to spruce up sacred spaces and home offices. Though indoor gardening quickly emerged as a form of self-care and a popular pandemic hobby, D.C.-based entrepreneurs Mignon Hemsley and Danuelle Doswell turned their passion for plants into a thriving new business venture.
Launched on April 22, to coincide with Earth Day, Grounded has proven to be one of the coolest virtual plant shops and subscription-based services in the game. Plant lovers can choose from a variety of plants to purify the air and planters to upgrade their home, or they can try a subscription to receive a different plant each month for three months. In addition to Grounded's creative marketing strategy, the company also has a blog devoted to plant care and playlists to help nurture your greenery. Fellow D.C. native and R&B star Ari Lennox even recorded a soulful jingle, the aptly-titled, "Grounded," in conjunction with Google and U.S. Black Chambers, Inc., to celebrate the Black-owned business.
Grounded's plants are in high demand, and the business is rapidly growing (no pun intended). Still, the goal, regardless of scale, remains the same: community impact. And that emphasis on fostering community trickles down to their operations.
In fact, when it comes to human resources, IT services, photography, social media, public relations, accounting, and branding, Doswell and Hemsley are a two-woman show. Which isn't surprising, considering that, before they became business partners, Doswell worked in marketing and Hemsley as a freelance graphic designer, DJ, and photographer.
Despite their busy schedules doing everything in-house and fulfilling online orders, Hemsley and Doswell invited us into their office space to discuss their health philosophy and the spiritual connection between humans and plants.
A3 Mag: Let’s talk about the name of your business, Grounded. How did you come up with it? Grounded: We spent about a month brainstorming names and knew we wanted it to be a play on our plant shop concept but not anything too deliberate. As we continued to develop our concept, we decided we wanted to highlight the wellness and mental health components of having plants, and Grounded was born.
To be 'grounded' refers to someone being confident and doing everything with intention. When you're grounded, you have a strong connection with who you are and the environment that you occupy. To ground yourself, [physically], is to take your shoes off and feel the Earth beneath your feet.
As self-described plant moms, did you ever dream of starting a business, and why a virtual plant shop? Growing up, we saw the women in our family plant and garden. But it wasn't a dream for either of us to open Grounded. We've never believed there are ceilings on what we can accomplish. The theme, in both of our lives, is to continually dream big and not place any limits on what that looks like.
Initially, we wanted to find a way to bring plants into the homes of other like-minded individuals. For some, owning a houseplant is not an easy task, but all it takes is patience and remaining in tune with your plants’ needs. We got into the virtual plant business by doing a ton of research and asking questions. Honestly, it took a lot of hard work. But being inquisitive and dedicated to our mission helped us bring this to fruition
How were you both introduced to the healing properties of plants? DD: When I first observed how tranquil my mom appeared while taking care of her collection. She seemed calmer and was proud of her green thumb. Then there was my experience with my own collection, drinking herbal tea, and using cannabis occasionally for my anxiety and ADHD. MH: Growing up, my mother let me grow my own food in our backyard. Seeing things begin to bloom, that I nurtured and cared for, was so fulfilling. From there, I began to research the benefits of growing my own food. I became more aware of the foods I consumed and how they affect your physical and mental state. My best friend, who's an herbalist, teaches me so much about natural remedies.
What role do plants play in mental health? Owning plants can be a therapeutic practice for some. Being able to nurture a living object and watch its progress is exciting. We want to push the message that owning a houseplant can give you that sense of fulfillment we all yearn for. Houseplants also have many spiritual benefits. For example, the Snake Plant represents long life, prosperity, beauty, health, strength, and intelligence. It's been said that the Snake Plant can ward off negative energy. It's the perfect plant to place in your bedroom.
Tell us about Grounded Radio. How does playing music or talking to plants impact one's health and that of their plants? DD: Music has been an anchor in both of our lives. Prior to launching [Grounded], Mignon [Hemsley] was DJing at a variety of events, and I'm an aux-cord DJ LOL. We’ve bonded through music and use it to get through our workdays. Music helps you mentally focus, relieves stress, and activates different chemicals in your body that put you at peace (like serotonin). With Grounded Radio, we hoped the diverse catalog of songs would emit positive vibrations to our plants. Plants are similar to people in the sense that they respond positively to good vibrations.
What are some of your favorite plants that you own? MH: Monstera, Swiss Cheese, Dumb Cane, and my Calatheas. DD: Monstera Split-Leaf [Philodendron], Golden Pothos, ZZ plant, and my Rattlesnake. It's like when parents say, 'You’re all my favorite kids.'
What houseplants would you recommend to boost creativity and inspiration (besides cannabis LOL)? Anything in the Calathea family is perfect for creativity. It's unique in appearance and moves at nightfall.
Is there a correlation between how someone treats their plants and how they treat themselves? Absolutely! Our plants teach us so much about patience and nurturing. If we gave ourselves the same amount of gentle care and attention that we give our plants, we would notice the things we should improve.
Shifting gears to the business, how is it working together? Everything is a collaborative effort between us. Most days we're bouncing different ideas, tasks, and objectives off each other. With both of our creative backgrounds, it’s been easy to collaborate on all aspects of our business.
What advice would you give Black people on nurturing their creativity and personal growth? MH: Find your Ikigai, which is your purpose of being. To find your life's mission, you combine the thing you love with the thing the world needs, what you can be paid for, and what you're good at. Once you find your Ikigai, then you execute. Use all of the tools you have in front of you to create something new and fresh. Do your research, and always be open to being a student of your craft. There will never be enough to learn. I'd also say be aware and cognizant of your life experiences, and use those experiences to influence your work. Remember what makes you unique from everyone else is that you are you.
DD: BARS! I'll just add to Mignon’s [Hemsley] response. Once you find your Ikigai, jump off the cliff and grow your wings on the way down. The best teacher is experience. Be open to learning, growing, and changing your perspective. Do everything right and don’t take any shortcuts. Don’t second guess yourself and always trust your gut.