SarahCotta Plants converts the stressed into plant parents

By the infamous summer of 2020, Baziks’ new business had long queues of customers.

SarahCotta Plants opened Glendale in July of that year, a bold move by the wife and husband of its owners, Sarah and Tadeh. Their store grew out of inhospitable soil — the summer pandemic shut down many small businesses — but it’s still thriving two years later. Now, behind the store’s wooden counter, the Baziks answer the big question: How?

Tadeh thinks people need an escape from the stress caused by the pandemic.

“Looking back, I can’t believe that actually happened,” he said, wearing a black T-shirt, paired with his wife. “Back then, people were so scared. There’s no vaccine, you know, the fact that people will even come here is amazing. “

Detail image Tadeh Bazik holding a young tree in a black plastic pot.

Tadeh Bazik holds a young Monstera Obqua growing inside his greenhouse.

(Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)

Sarah says customer acquisition has never been an issue. In the store’s early months, Bazik only allowed two people at a time and required masks. They leave every night at 10 o’clock, and when they come back in the morning, customers are already waiting outside. Nurses from the nearby Adventist Health Service, still in the process of exfoliating, stopped by to pick plants.

Although they already have customers, the real barrier is inventory, says Sarah. They scoured plants, usually in San Diego, trying to buy all sorts to fill their stores. The plants will go to distribution centers and sell fresh on trucks, and the Baziks will pick them up or another botanical shop will do. Even now filling inventory can still be difficult, but the store feels full.

Located between a hair salon and an air duct business, Baziks managed to create a small space that feels airy. As expected, it was packed with plants, with glass jars of cuttings on one wall and a white cabinet of rare plants on the wall. Then there’s Sarah and Tadeh, a vibrant couple struggling in the middle of it all. There is only one employee operating the counter; Baziks manages everything else. The store is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays when they buy new plants, clean them, add them to the system, and take pictures. On Wednesday they will resupply and reopen.

Working together means Sarah and Tadeh are together “24 hours a day”. They wouldn’t have it any other way.

Sarah said: “I’ve been with him since I was 18, and I never got bored of him. “All my friends are like ‘how do you work with your husband every day?’ I like, ‘it’s the best!’ I don’t want to work with anyone else. Like I can’t imagine not working with him.”

“Imagine working with your best friend,” Tadeh added.

Sarah and Tadeh Bazik stood behind the counter of the store, surrounded by trees.

Sarah and Tadeh Bazik place an order at the SarahCotta Factory in Glendale.

(Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)

Facebook played matchmaking in 2010, when Sarah posted about getting a new phone and asked her friends to send in their numbers. She and Tadeh never met, but he agreed to send her his number anyway. They texted each other for months, even when Tadeh visited Armenia for the first time and she was still in California.

“Instead of visiting the country, I sat there at 3 a.m. on my laptop talking to her because I knew she was awake,” Tadeh said as Sarah laughed. “I fell in love with her before I met her in person.”

When he returned, they met in person, and years later, Tadeh proposed while visiting Sarah’s family in Armenia. Although they planned to get married by the end of 2020, they unexpectedly married during a trip to Cancun with friends in 2019 – before the pandemic hit.

Both Armenians and Baziks find their language proficiency particularly helpful in Glendale, which has one of the largest Armenian populations outside of Armenia. Sarah follows her passion for plants at her grandmother’s garden in Armenia. Her grandmother would walk her through herbs and hoya plants, pointing out each type and how they grow. While her mother has a black thumb, her grandmother can grow anything.

Tadeh checked to see if it ran in the family. Seven years ago, he gave Sarah her first tree: a glossy fig tree. Fame is hard to keep alive, but Sarah has grown it into something big and beautiful. Tadeh had unknowingly started a “healthy addiction.” Their apartment grew into a forest, with over a hundred kinds of trees in every nook and cranny.

A wall of tree cuttings in a pipe at Sarah Cotta Plants.

Customers are encouraged to cut one tree and, in return, leave another in the pipes at the store.

(Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)

Sarah not only recruits Tadeh but also all her friends to participate in her plant-loving business, organizing potting parties and delivering cuttings. And while her friends often encourage opening a store, she and Tadeh insist it’s just a hobby – until the pandemic hits.

As COVID-19 spurred a new age of the outdoors, Baziks chose to ride a bike. While driving to buy Sarah a new bike, Tadeh noticed a “For Rent” sign – a side effect of his real estate agent’s gaze. They went on and bought the bike, but something pulled them to a stop in the clearing on the way home. The interior is a disaster, but the Bazik is not broken.

“We just looked around, and then I thought, what’s the rent?” Tadeh said. “And he said to us and out of nowhere, I looked at Sarah and I said, ‘you know that thing you always say about opening a botanical shop? Should we do that? ‘”

“And then we were like… ‘OK!’ We literally signed on that day,” says Sarah, standing in that space (now no trace of what used to be a disaster). “If you keep waiting and waiting, trying to find the right place, as if we planned about finding the right place…”

“You will never find the right moment,” Tadeh finished.

So they started working, Tadeh turning her real estate career into a side gig as they both devoted themselves full time to SarahCotta Plants. (The name is a mix of terracotta, their favorite potted plant, and Sarah’s name, which Tadeh jokes sounds better than his own.)

Their home is the store’s prep hub. In their home greenhouse, they sort, screen, and clean up what they’ve bought, labeling and photographing for their site. Their 1-year-old son, Kylo, ​​grew up in the jungle of it all. When Bazik brought him into the shop, he surveyed the terrain but didn’t knock him over.

Detailed image of green, leafy Calathea Orbifolia.

One Calathea orbifolia The plant is one of many for sale at SarahCotta Plants.

(Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)

Kylo Bazik, one year old, sits on his parents' shop floor with a potted plant.

Kylo Bazik has many factories to keep him company in his parents’ shop.

(Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)

He was a particularly peaceful child, to whom the Baziks considered a tranquil environment. “We are raising it as one of our crops,” Tadeh laughs.

And it’s not just Kylo who is learning how to be a botanist. Since its opening, Baziks has embarked on a mission to develop people’s green thumbs. That’s why Sarah loves cuttings – even if a client accidentally kills a tree, sometimes part of it can be salvaged and used to grow new plants. After all, their main goal is to turn everyone into a plant person, and two years on from opening, they are seeing the fruits of their efforts. Baziks love when customers become friends and see them with the thriving plants they bought in the early days of the store.

“I feel like plants are just a way for all of us to get away from all the madness going on there,” Tadeh said of the store’s inception. “And just like on a human level, let’s talk about something completely natural and completely pandemic free, not about death and not about all the negative stuff. Once you’ve stepped in here, forget about whatever’s going on out there.”

The shelves of Bazik's family home are lined with plants and family pictures.

The Bazik family home has many plants from their personal collection on display in their living room.

(Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)

As some of the pandemic restrictions have been lifted, SarahCotta Plants still stands as a remnant of good after a tumultuous time. And it still exists as an outlet for those having a rough day.

Sarah calls two things “meaning”. First: her marriage to Tadeh. And second: open this botanical shop.

Sarah says: “How many people we helped to become vegetative became friends. “It was meeting new people and talking to them and being friends, they came to my son’s first birthday party. Those are core memories that I will remember forever.”

Parents and their children among the trees

Sarah and Tadeh Bazik spend a warm moment with their 1-year-old son Kylo, ​​in the store’s main display window.

(Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times) SarahCotta Plants converts the stressed into plant parents

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