Dear Plant Lovers,
First and foremost, we wanted to say thank you for your continued interest and support of our products and brand. As some may know and many may not know, Water & Light closed the doors to both brick and mortar plant shops in Miami and New York last fall (2019). There were many reasons for this, but the short and honest answer is that we were running out of money, and it’s expensive to pay rent for retail stores. Turns out that the timing was actually pretty good, as we avoided the crushing effects of the COVID-19 crisis on physical retail stores that most companies are facing today.
Fast forward to today - although we haven’t shipped a plant since last fall, we know we have something valuable to offer the plant community after our move to Miami and research into the bowels of the decorative houseplant industry. With our website still up and running, we have been receiving more inquiries and requests than ever, both from people looking to partner with the Water & Light brand and also individual people looking for that special hard-to-find plant. Please know that we have heard your stories and taken note of what you’re looking for - although we must apologize for our lack of responsiveness. We have been hard at work looking for ways to pivot our company and continue to take part in the amazing resurgence of interest in houseplants that is happening today.
The brutal truth is that making a living with houseplants is quite hard. We have heard so many stories of people looking for suppliers in order to launch their new houseplant business, but the reality is that this industry is a tough nut to crack, and here’s why. Most houseplants in the U.S. come from South Florida, which is why we moved there and opened a second shop. It is possible to get many beautiful, exotic houseplants in two specific areas, namely Homestead (South of Miami) and Apopka (outside Orlando). These two regions are tropical houseplant Mecca in this country - almost every plant shop, nursery, and greenhouse across the country and Canada has trucks coming to their door from these two regions every month (sometimes weekly). There are hundreds of nurseries and thousands of acres of houseplants grown there, and as you can imagine, the logistics of the industry are well established. Because of this reason, many growers are reluctant to change their ways and take new small accounts that cannot order a minimum amount and have it shipped from their loading docks. You can imagine Water & Light at the loading dock of a giant plant factory with a small white van buying 100 plants, next to a semi-truck loading thousands of plants to ship across the country. It is very hard to elbow your way into this market at this level and then turn around and sell enough plants in a couple stores and a website to cover your costs. It is possible to buy plants before they are even grown to full size, which is exactly what many growers in Florida do. These plants are called liners and are usually 2” wide starter plants grown in a lab somewhere in Florida, which are then taken to the grower nursery and grown to the 6” houseplant you see in your garden center today. Water & Light explored this angle as well, but the prerequisites of having enough room, light, and equipment to grow enough plants at scale, keeping them alive for 6-12 months, and then shipping them in single packages to end customers was just too much for Water & Light. Both growing and selling plants is inherently hard. Most people look at popular companies on Instagram and see a version of success they want to take part in. We all want to build something with a positive impact on the world that we are proud of, that sustains our lifestyles.
After our stumble with our first attempt, we realized that we do not have the scale to challenge the embedded players in houseplants today. We had to totally rethink our business model, and the first thing we had to do was cut costs - all of them. After closing our stores, we brainstormed many different ideas for our business including flash sales for batches of houseplants, building a platform for an open marketplace for buying and selling single plants, developing a logistics service for houseplant delivery, and many others. Most of these ideas require capital, time, and connections that we simply do not have. After months of brainstorming, we are excited to launch an idea that we can afford, accomplish, and grow as we work our day jobs. Today we are launching our first plant care product - Water & Light’s Organic Plant Food. This item is formulated and produced in the U.S. using entirely organic ingredients and completely biodegradable packaging materials, and we are bringing it to you at a price point that works with any budget. We have put a great deal of thought into the size, shape, and design of this item and hope that you will enjoy it next to your collection for months to come. We are passionate in helping plant lovers keep their collection growing and thriving, just as we are passionate about keeping our own houseplants healthy and happy. We know just how beneficial plants can be both environmentally and psychologically, and we want to continue doing our part to contribute positively to this community. Please stay on the lookout for updates on our live plants, and in the meantime we invite you all to pre-order our 2oz. plant food packages. As always, shipping is free and we estimate these will ship mid-December in plenty of time for the 2020 holiday season. Thank you again for your support!
Roy & Milana, Co-Founders