Small Business Tour: The Plant Chica
business profile

Small Business Tour: The Plant Chica

Name: Sandra Mejia

Location: Los Angeles, CA

Business: The Plant Chica

Sandra Mejia

Tell us about how you got started.

I’ve always loved plants. My mom's actually the person who got me into plants, since she was a little girl she's loved plants too. She's from El Salvador and in her country, it's very, very tropical. So I think she, a lot of immigrants when they come here into the US, I think they try to kind of replicate where they're from. And so I just grew up around plants. There were always plants in my house and I just assumed everyone had that many plants in their home. It kind of just stuck with me.

I had been working at UCLA for about ten years and when I became a mom and I wanted to spend more time with my son. I was working really long shifts. I would work like 10 to 12 hour shifts—so when I left the house he was sleeping and when I came home he was asleep again. I would miss him. I just wanted to do something where I could stay home with him more. And so I started selling plants in farmers' markets and random corners. I would just set up and sell my plants. Eventually we just got on Etsy and it took off from there.

What was your first big win? When did you feel like this was going to work?

I think when I saw that I had made more money in a week than I do in a month at my job. I realized I needed to give this my all and not just 50% of my time.

What do you wish you knew when you first started your business?

 I wish I knew that success doesn't happen overnight. I think a lot of us, we just want to be really good at something and it takes a lot of trying and a lot of putting yourself out there to finally have some success. And a lot of the time, it's putting your own money into it. And a lot of the time, we were in the negative because we're using the money that we're making at our job to start our business. 

What kept you going in the beginning and motivates you now?

My son, because I just wanted to be able to be there and see the little moments in his life—like when he started walking and talking. I felt like I was just missing so much of that. Now that we have the business, he gets to be at the shop all the time and he's so proud of it. I think it's just so important for him to see that and be around that and allow it to become his norm. Like it's normal to own a business. Like that's what mommy and daddy do.

What advice would you give to new business owners?

Don’t get discouraged and don’t compare yourself to others. You're on your own journey and wherever that takes you, you just have to trust the process. It can be very easy to become discouraged when you see other people succeeding, you know? So I think just not to get discouraged so easily.

Can you think of a moment when you faced an unexpected obstacle as a new business owner? How did you overcome it? 

I think a big one is getting everything in order. We started using QuickBooks Self-Employed until we got an accountant and when our sales started to grow, we went from Self-Employed to QuickBooks Online and it helped us keep track of our expenses. We’re even able to track our mileage while we go places to pick up plants. 

Now we have an accountant that uses QuickBooks and she can log in and help us out with cleaning everything up. I think that's pretty awesome.

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How would you describe your relationship with your employees? 

Our employees have honestly become family to us and they all see our vision how much more we want to do for the community that we are in. So I think our visions kind of align and our goals align. 

What's the first thing that comes to mind when you describe being a small business owner?

Freedom. Having the freedom to be able to grow as much as you want. The more work you put into it, the bigger your company's going to get, and you have the freedom to live life the way that you want to live life. 

What's one thing you wish more people knew about your life as a small business owner?

I feel like a lot of people that see us on social media don't realize that we're parents. And I feel like being a mom is the number one thing in my life. Before being an entrepreneur or a business owner.

What does your community mean to you as a small business owner?

My community means everything to me. I grew up in the neighborhood that the business is currently in and we don't have resources that most people have. To be able to have my plant shop in this neighborhood is crucial because I didn't have that growing up. We didn't have a plant shop or a business that tried to get people together in the community so we could all learn from and be around each other.

What is something you do for yourself each day outside of your business?

I do yoga. I think that's something that helps me as a small business owner to relax and do something for myself that allows me to be present. And I'll have to worry about what I'm going to do when I get out of yoga.

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You have to trust the process.

What does it mean to support small business owners?

It means everything. It means you're supporting someone's dream and you're supporting their family. You're supporting Family that's going to come after them in the future. 

What's next for your business?

We want to open more Plant Chicas so everyone can have access to plants. That's super important. Plants are magical. We just want everyone to find the happiness within plants.

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