She’s effortlessly cool — and so is her charming plant shop

In our botanical PPL series, we interview people of color in the plant world. If you have suggestions to include PPL, tag us on Instagram @latimesplants.

Many people who enter Green Place don’t come to buy plants, and owner Jennifer Aragon disagrees with that.

They can paint their own terracotta pots, perch at the center table of the botanic shop to start crafting. They can rest their heads on Elvis or Blondie while sipping iced coffee on the couch. If they’re the guy next door, they might come in on their daily lunch break to play their favorite piano.

However, those who come to plant trees are never disappointed.

A reading sign "Always be humble and kind" hanging on the wall surrounded by indoor plants.

The Green Place Botanical Shop has some uplifting and encouraging signs.

(Jason Armond / Los Angeles Times)

The store is Thrives with heart-shaped caladiums, tropical marantas and soft pink synthetics. “It’s been a while since we restocked, so it’s a bit empty right now,” she says, though the vast greenery says otherwise.

Aragon, 38, has easy cool energy. Her dark hair curls into a top knot, accented by golden hoops and a welcoming smile. After a decade of working as a retail manager, she chose her own solo business path.

Her downtown Fullerton store opened in August 2020, and everything in it has a story. Put the rusty Brachiosaurus sunbathing on the front table: Cactus Mart doesn’t sell it, but Aragon can buy it anyway. And the walls are hand-painted by local muralist Carla Roque, who tosses white-rimmed leaves against a glossy black paint after viewing Aragon’s reference sketches.

Between local artwork, partnerships with other vendors in the city, and Aragon managing the front desk, the shop is a love letter to Fullerton. Sitting across from a painted craft table, Aragon told me how she made it that way.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

So, when did plant dreams begin?

I started collecting plants about 10 years ago, but the botanical shop dream probably started around 2017 or 2018. That’s when I said, “I don’t want to do my job anymore, I really want to do it. another thing. I want to start my own business.” But I really don’t know what I want to do. And then one time I was at home, just watering the plants, and I said, “I’m going to open a botanical shop.” And back then, there were no botanical shops [in this area]. There are nurseries like Home Depot, Lowe’s, Armstrong’s, and a unique one like this one perhaps like Potting Shed in Orange.

It is really interesting to see people with different tastes and personalities coming through the botanical shops because although there are many they are all very different, very unique and have their own personality. .

A sculpture of Brachiosaurus towers over a cluster of houseplants.

A sculpture of Brachiosaurus sits on a grove of plants in the center of the store.

(Jason Armond / Los Angeles Times)

Speaking of decoration, are you the one who decorated this place?

Yes – my vision is really to make it feel like you’re in someone’s home, like you come in and are comfortable. About 90% of everything here is handmade or given or just given, so everything has a story in its own right – and that’s what I wanted. I didn’t want it to feel very boutique; I like to feel like you’re hanging out at a friend’s house, and I think we’ve captured that. I want people to feel comfortable here, hanging out and not feeling like you’re in a super modern store.

Absolutely, and this is a really big space.

It’s really big. It was scary at first, but now that we’re in, I feel like it’s not big enough [Laughs.]

Why downtown Fullerton?

I moved here when I was 22 years old. I just love this area; I have seen it change a lot. So many shops come in and out, and it’s always kept a really cool vibe. I have moved three times and I have stayed at Fullerton. It’s like a perfect look; Obviously the perfect location. And honestly, I never dreamed that I would be able to get this position. I’ve seen three different stores come and go from this location, and it’s great that I’m part of the lineage of people here.

A woman holds a potted plant with pink and green leaves.

Jennifer Aragon holds a Calathea roseopicta Rose’.

(Jason Armond / Los Angeles Times)

And how did it feel to open it for the first time?

Scary. Really scary. But to be honest, I feel really proud. It was a scary thing, and I did it alone. I don’t have a partner so if I fail, then I fail myself. But if it succeeds, so do I. I’m proud to have that, whether it fails or it works, I’m proud that I was able to make the terrifying journey.

How is the staff situation?

Currently, we are family-run because I am who I am. I have my mother working for me. I have a sister who works for me. And then I had a couple of girls working part-time, so they got other jobs and then they worked hours here and there. And they’re people I know from other retail jobs, so it’s great that I trust their work ethic.

It’s really secluded because, especially when you have your own space, you have to trust the people who are running it for you. And we are not a company. Just us. Like, when people want to talk to management or HR, it’s me! So you really have to trust the people who, in a sense, are taking care of your home. This is my second home. This is it.

Trees line up atop an old piano.

An old piano acts as a plant stand.

(Jason Armond / Los Angeles Times)

How do you bring your culture into your store?

Oh, my God, everywhere. Even just love unique pieces of art, even music – so my culture, I’m Hawaiian, Filipino and Spanish – and so we even do like the days Hawaii, where you get a discount if you wear it as a Hawaiian shirt or something like that. But yes, even with the trees that we bring in, the art that we bring in, the music that we bring in – we just overwhelm it.

Great. What do you hope people who come to this store will experience?

Two hats and a picture of a woman hang on the wall above some potted plants.

Unique artworks and hats hang on the store’s walls amid the swirls of a mural.

(Jason Armond / Los Angeles Times)

Positive energy. Like legal, I want people to walk in and say, “Oh my God, I don’t want to leave. I like it here. “Really, that’s what I want. I want people to walk in and like, maybe they’re in a bad mood or they’re having a bad day, and I want them to walk in the door and immediately feel positive and leave a positive vibe. such sense. I want it to change their date.

One of the things I like is people come in and just sit on the couch and have a coffee and relax, or come in and paint the pots and just enjoy relaxing here for an hour or two. I like that, because it’s like, oh, I’m generating energy that people want to sit in, whether it’s the music or us, the workers or the trees or whatever. I want them to feel a community when they come in here.

So if there was an emergency and you could only save one tree, what would it be?

[Thinks for a while.] Maybe mine Philodendron cordatum ‘Brazil.’ So it is the one hanging on the wall. It is not a very popular plant, but it is one of my favorites. The leaves are heart-shaped, and when they grow, they are really cool. It’s not one of those interesting trends on Instagram. It’s not anything that anyone is attracted to, but for some reason I have four of them in my house. And I just love them. I like the way they follow up. I love their colors. I think they are very easy to care for and give a very nice color.

Are there any plants you would like to leave behind?

[No hesitation.] Yes, probably all Calathea. There are many different types of them. And people love them because they’re gorgeous, but let me tell you, they’re the most mischievous kids ever. [Laughs.] They’re too fancy, but they’re beautiful. They are like the mean girls of the plant group.

What’s your best advice for aspiring plant parents?

Start small and easy. Stay away from the trendy things on Instagram. Because usually those people need a lot of love and care, and then you can get frustrated. Don’t buy anything expensive in the beginning. Be it a snake tree, a ZZ tree, a pothole – something easy. Just work your way up.

A woman stands on the sidewalk outside a store with a sign reading "Green Place Botanical Shop."

Jennifer Aragon stands for a portrait outside Green Place.

(Jason Armond / Los Angeles Times)

https://www.latimes.com/lifestyle/story/2022-08-04/fullerton-plant-shop-the-green-place She’s effortlessly cool — and so is her charming plant shop

Russell Falcon

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