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Community Highlights: Meet Katya Gustova of Plants For Friends

Today we’d like to introduce you to Katya Gustova.

Katya, we appreciate you taking the time to share your story with us today. Where does your story begin?
Hi, my name is Katya and I’m a plantaholic! Ever since I was a kid, I loved to find, decorate and take care of houseplants. It’s always been my happy place; watering, cleaning, and seeing plants thriving is my meditation. But like many of my peers, I went to study international business and traveled around the world, setting my passion aside. When I moved to sunny San Diego a few years ago, I realized that this place is amazing not only for people but for houseplants as well. But very frequently, I would meet people who were struggling with plant care. They believed they didn’t have the green thumb required to grow plants. Some of my friends even bought artificial plants for their homes, so I started to help them by picking plants that will thrive in their environment. Also, I was giving them tips on how to take care of particular plants. After some time I decided to try to start a business out of my passion, which will help people understand plant needs and encourage them to bring more life into their spaces.

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
There of course, were some challenges I had to overcome. First of all, the pandemic created high demand for houseplants, as people started to spend so much time at home. At the same time, growers had to stop planting and raising plants because of the lockdown. So basically, it was a very hard time to get started in this industry, as without purchasing power and connections, the assortment of plants to work with was very limited. This forced me to have to drive from one nursery to another, picking up whatever plants I could grab to store at home before each project.

I love to work with large plants such as a rubber plant, Ficus Lyrata, Bird of Paradise, Dracaenas, and cacti. However, I stand tall at 5’2″, so I knew I needed to find some help to make it happen, not just somebody who’s as passionate about plants as I am, but also somebody with experience in plantscaping and knowledge in industry best practices. After almost giving up, and when I was least looking, I came across Miguel, who has been working in the plantscaping business for over 20 years! He is the best mentor/partner I could have ever dreamt of, and together I’m certain we can tackle projects of any size and complexity!

Appreciate you sharing that. What should we know about Plants For Friends?
Plants For Friends is a plantscaping company with a mission to help people understand and live in harmony with plants. Before starting work on a project, we always evaluate the space and choose what plants are going to thrive in these conditions. After that, we pick planters that will match the style of the interior and align with the customer’s vision. We never start implementation before the client is 100% happy with the project. In some cases, we even create 3D visualizations to help our customers get a feel of how their spaces will look greenified. Then we deliver, clean, fertilize and install plants. We always provide written and verbal tips for care and come to check on the plants in a couple of weeks after installation to make sure they’re happy and thriving! What makes us unique?

1. Flexibility. I never limit our customers in options. I can easily use any desirable plants or planters or even those that a client currently has in our projects.

2. Affordability. I work with wholesale suppliers. So our customers always pay less than in retail stores.

3. Mission. Our goal is the long-term happy life of plants in living spaces. We believe that if people recognize, love, and nurture their green friends at home, they will see and appreciate the variety and beauty of life on our planet and will be more aware of the urgency for wise land management and conservation!

4. Eco-Friendly Approach. Just think about the number of plastic nursery pots that are dumped every day in the trash. We do it differently, all the nursery pots that we don’t need anymore are going back to the growers to be reused again. Also, we try our best to use only locally produced planters, pots, and accessories.

Do you any memories from childhood that you can share with us?
I remember one summer in the countryside my sister’s and neighbors kids and I built a hut. We would wake up early in the morning and run to decorate it, plant flowers around the hut. Our favorite time was to play board games inside during the thunderstorm. I guess this was my first experience of independent work in a team and that felt wonderful.

Contact Info:

Image Credits
Maria Regnetta

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