Green summer thumb, here we come! Planstome is one of Canada’s first online-only houseplant stores that matches B.C. peeps with their perfect leafy babies via a web-dating-like approach (but less creepy, unless you go for a vine). We chatted with co-founder Kevin Tholenaars about the unique service (and we’re giving you a chance to win a Plantsome pal of your own!). —Noa Nichol
Hi Kevin! Please tell us a bit about yourself to start.
My name is Kevin Tholenaars and I am the co-founder and CEO of Plantsome Canada. I live in beautiful Vancouver together with my partner Astrid. We moved to Canada four years ago from Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Some wonder why we left a beautiful place like Holland but, to us, there’s no place like Vancouver. Living in a city that is surrounded by so much of the outdoors to explore is truly a dream come true. We recently became first time parents to a beautiful baby boy, who’s now 11 months old. Honestly, all the first-time-parent cliches are true! I caught the retail bug early on in my career when I started as a copywriter at a Dutch e-commerce startup. I moved to a merchandising role quickly and fell in love with the concept of curating an assortment and figuring out the needs of my customers. There’s no better feeling than launching a new product or service that makes your customers happy. I was taught early on about the value of building a product/service that wows your customer and rises above their expectations. Because simply meeting people’s expectations is table stakes nowadays, we still apply that same strategy here at Plantsome.
When and why did you decide to launch Plantsome?
Plantsome was founded in Holland in 2017. When I met the founders on a trip to visit family last year, I knew right away this was a service that would be really appreciated here in Canada. Plantsome has really delivered on one essential insight into their customer journey: it is that when customers shop for plants at Plantsome, their customer journey doesn’t end when the product arrives at their doorstep, it is only the beginning! In partnership with the original founders, we decided to start Plantsome Retail Inc. in the winter of 2019. After months of getting ready for our launch we opened our digital doors on March 18th, 2020, which I believe was the day of the global pandemic announcement. It was a little scary to see this launch potentially at risk after so many months of pouring everything we had into it, but the early response so far has been amazing. We are expanding quickly to meet the demand!
So, how does it work?
Plantsome carefully selects a vetted group of local nurseries from which we curate an assortment of amazing looking tropical plants. Only the best of the best make it in! Our customers can then shop those plants on Plantsome.ca. Our filters and easy to use plant finder allow for them to select a plant that matches their needs (i.e. air purifying, pet friendly or easy to care for). There’s also some cool “magic” built in that shows you a selection of pots that you can add to your order matching the size of the plant you picked. There’s even a preview of how it looks. It’s a neat trick we’re proud of. Once we receive an order, our shopkeepers go hard at work to safely box up the plants and pots in our special plant boxes to ensure a safe delivery to your home. Customers can then download the free Plantsome app where they’ll add their plants. Our system will provide localized and customized watering instructions and reminders based on the weather, the season and the size of each individual plant. Truly the perfect worry-free way for anyone that is new to plant parenthood to get started!
What tools do you offer to match people with the perfect plant?
We’ve developed the Plant Finder at Plantsome.ca. Our finder asks you a few basic questions to provide you with a selection that works just right for you and your home environment. It’s an easy to use tool that helps you filter for the right plants—for example plants that work in a low-light studio, a small space, or a home that has pets!
Tell us about the Plantsome app, please!
Yes! The Plantsome App takes the stress out of caring for plants! Most of us have had a plant die on us because we ignored it for a few days (or … weeks!?). But did you know that 70 per cent of plants die because they get too much love? All that well intentioned love (water) leads to root rot which leads to an early demise of your plant and a disillusioned plant parent. We figured there had to be a better way to educate and help new plant parents have thriving plants at home. Enter the Plantsome App! Using some back-end coding magic we’ve devised an app that completely manages the care for your plants by giving you watering notifications for every plant you have, so you’ll never forget when you watered them last and when they need some more H20. The app allows you to add any plant you have at home, whether you bought it at Plantsome or not, and is free to download on iOS and Android.
What else makes Plantsome unique (than, say, shopping at a traditional nursery)?
If you’ve read some of the descriptions on our site you’ll quickly figure out that we love telling fun little stories about our plants. We call them “plantventures” and we do tend to get a little carried away with these crazy descriptions! Having a laugh and not taking yourself too seriously is something we try to practice every day at Plantsome, because shopping for plants should be fun and it’s not serious business! We’ll be the first to admit that some of our attempts at plant-comedy will miss the mark but hey, at least we tried! Another thing that makes us unique is our capability of reaching every one of our customers in two to three business days all across B.C. While some are lucky to live near a big nursery that might rival our assortment, it’s a big trip (and hassle) for most of our customers so being able to have everything shipped to your door is a big plus! We’re giving a lot of our customers access to a variety of plants that they’ve never had before.
What’s with the plant names?! How do you come up with them (and is it OK to rename once the “adoption process” is up)?
Our names can literally come from anywhere but there’s usually a story around the name. Some are references to the actual plant in some (obscure!) way, while others again are tongue-in-cheek references to pop culture. Not everyone will get the reference but what’s the fun in making things easy! There’s a story to uncover in all of our plants, and we love having fun with it. Here’s a fun one: any idea where we got the inspiration from for our Snake plant, Kaa, or our Elephant Ear, Jumbo? Come on, those are the easy ones!
Final, personal question: how many plants do you own, and what plant are you currently lusting after?
Oof, I must say that being around hundreds if not thousands of tropical plants every single day has certainly quenched some of my thirst for tropical plants but I do occasionally bring some home. I have about 30 right now and I’m careful not to bring home too many. It’s already a jungle out here! If I could have any plant I would probably go for a Musa Ae Ae, which is a unique variegated kind of Banana plant that is not commonly found here. One day perhaps.
Win! A $150 Plantsome Gift Card!
We have a winner! Congrats Debbie G. of North Vancouver, B.C., who will receive a $150 Plantsome gift card!