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Meet Samantha Owens of Barrels & Branches Nursery in Encinitas

Today we’d like to introduce you to Samantha Owens.

Samantha, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
It was fate that owner Samantha Owens would work with plants. Her mother and father were both plantsmen, and she grew up on the 1+ acre property where her plant nursery, Barrels & Branches, is located. At age 25, after studying economics and horticulture at Sonoma State University and MiraCosta College, Samantha opened her nursery and landscaping business in August 2005. Focusing on drought-tolerant landscapes and lawn conversions while offering water-thrifty plants for sale that were relatively unknown to shoppers at the time, Samantha championed sustainable landscaping before it became trendy and before state-wide water restrictions became a part of Southern California life.

In an often male-dominated industry, she worked hard to earn the respect of peers and vendors. Building a reputation by word of mouth, Barrels & Branches grew into the company it is today: a full-service nursery, a landscape design & installation business, and an event space. Those visiting the nursery for the first time are often struck by how it’s laid out more like a botanical garden than a typical nursery center. Featuring a large selection of succulents and cactus as well as a broad selection of Australian, South African, Mediterranean, and California native plants, there’s also a large pottery section and a gift shop offering houseplants, air plants, crystals, driftwood, potted arrangements, and organic dry goods.

With demand high for landscaping services coupled with running a busy retail and event space (workshops, bridal & baby showers, and birthday parties run frequently), Samantha and her staff of 9 are often hustling to keep up. But that’s fine with her. Creating and installing gardens and running her business is truly her life’s work, and she’s got a lot of enthusiasm about what the future holds.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Samantha has always self-funded her business. One of the challenges for her was the desire to grow the business without any outside funding. Other struggles were finding employees who could keep up with her, working in the sun, the heat, the rain, doing the heavy lifting. The end result of a garden is a thing of beauty, but it takes sweat and a lot of planning, knowledge, and effort to create each unique garden. Couple that with running a retail plant nursery open seven days a week and you can see how balancing work & life could be challenging for someone like Samantha who has a very strong work ethic.

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Barrels & Branches Nursery – what should we know?
We are a retail plant nursery, landscape design & installation business and an event space business. Our customers tell us that Barrels & Branches is known for the beauty and serenity of our property. Almost every week, we hear that we are a hidden gem, that Encinitas residents have been driving by for years and didn’t know what lay behind the long wall bordering Santa Fe Drive. We’re known for our personalized customer service, for our unusual plant material, and for how much we care about our customers. Probably what we’re most proud of is the fact that we’re still here after 13 years. In the world of business, it can be tough to be small. We try to keep our plant pricing competitive with the big box stores while offering more options and good advice for our customers, hoping that that combination will keep shoppers coming back to support their community nursery.

Is there a characteristic or quality that you feel is essential to success?
Persistence is probably the most important characteristic to our success. Barrels & Branches was fortunate enough to be written up in March 2009 by Sunset Magazine, just a couple years after we opened, and that got the word out about us in a way that we hadn’t been able to do up to that point. We’ve also met some incredible people along the way, had some wonderful clients, and forged many strong friendships throughout the years. We’ve had some loyal employees that have helped to create the strong team that exists today. As a small business, we rely on the community to keep us going, and our community has never let us down. And periodicals like yours that offer to write articles about us are something we feel lucky to be involved with. But the persistence of our owner, Samantha, to persevere during down times, to dig deeper when others might have closed their doors, is what has been the most important factor to our success.

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Image Credit:
Barrels & Branches

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