There’s something spreading on Instagram. They’re hanging off the walls, tucked in corners, acting as landscape, and often, front-and-centre. Before Pantone even declared greenery the colour of the year, foliage was a growing trend. And it’s one local entrepreneur, Lauren Pincente, knows well.
“I’ve always done floral design,” said Pincente, owner of a new plant and flower market in the Junction area of Toronto. “In university I would go to the Avenue and Davenport markets and make my own arrangements.”
This past Valentine’s Day, Pincente opened Wildhood in the back of a clothing store. She teased out the opening with a series of flowery Instagram posts, and was pleasantly surprised with foot traffic upon opening.
“As soon as I moved in people were like, ‘I love this idea, do you also have plants?’” she said.
Pincente started to see themes in people’s response. First, they seemed to find her on Instagram through the local hashtag #JunctionTO, and when they did, they had something in mind.
“A lot of people who’ve been coming in have been buying the plants that remind them of the plant their grandmother had or their mother had,” she said.
Pincente outfitted a local restaurateur’s windows to honour his father who passed, for example. She found long English ivy and put it in a silver bucket, just like his father had in his house. He loved it, but stopped at bringing spider plants into the shop because they reminded him too much of his mom.
With smaller living spaces in the Toronto market and property managers restricting what can go in them, plants start to serve a wider purpose. A recent Toronto Star article used the term plant parenting, likening plants to other family members. However, they’re ones they can stand the neglect of owners working long hours and living with limited sunlight.
“My little condo is all white and its kind of lifeless. I’ve been building my jungle in there and it already feels so much more like home,” Pincente described.
So, how are people choosing what to buy? They’re looking at the 11 million+ posts tagged as #plants on Instagram, some 3 million #succulents posts, and even at the fashion and décor influencers using plants as props.
Fashion blogs are styling their clothes with fiddle leaf trees in front of white walls. Oak + Fort opened in LA with cacti and fiddle leaf trees out front, for example. Stylistically, big, Dutch-inspired bloom arrangements continue to pervade at odds with some of the stranger, 80s-style plants like the spiky Mother-In-Law’s Tongue. Monstera – or Swiss cheese plants – with their bright, big leaves have sprouted their own #monsteramonday following.
Pincente showcases popular plants on Wildhood’s Instagram and Facebook pages, but they don’t stay long in-store. In just six weeks, she had a list of five people waiting for a fiddle leaf tree. “It’s impossible to keep them because they’re so trendy.”
While plants are popular now, Pincente is trying hard to focus on stocking the things she finds beautiful that she’d want in her own space before moving to the next milestone.
“I want people to have greenery in their homes and I love the idea of having an online business,” she said. “You’re dealing with live things. I need to develop the trust in the neighbourhood first.”
Getting Digital With is Devon Burke’s monthly look at how bricks-and-mortar businesses and entrepreneurs are using online channels to build their brand. Do you have a business that’s just starting out? Reach out to Devon Burke to share your story.