Tell us about Cultivate Urban Rainforest & Gallery. What do you do or sell?
Cultivate Urban Rainforest & Gallery is a plant shop and art gallery that is teeming with life and creativity! We encourage people to explore our curated selection of unique houseplants, pots, and in-house created terrariums. Cultivate also stocks books, jewelry, ceramics, fair trade baskets, and decor. I teach terrarium-making workshops, and we host plant talks, art openings, gallery talks and concerts.
My education is in music business. I've spent a good portion of my life in music retail and music venues. I've always had a passion for nature, music, and art and have incorporated all of those elements into my shop and gallery.
Why did you start this business? If you were a superhero, what would your origin story be?
I've always loved being in the forest; The pace of life is getting faster and more isolating, so it is that much more important to connect to the natural world. One of the best ways to foster that connection year- round is through creating an indoor forest. I've been told my gift is matching a plant to its perfect pot. I am an observer of small details. My superpower is in color and texture and I try to use my powers for good.
What's the story behind the name of your business?
The name emerged when I wanted to conjure an image of a plant filled world in the midst of our urban suburban spaces. The word "cultivate" is so rich because it pertains to plants, design, art, and a way of life.
Did you choose the Main-Dempster Mile for your store's location? What do you love about working in Evanston?
I absolutely chose the Main Dempster Mile! When I found out that this location was about to be open I knew that it was the place I wanted to be. Joining a neighborhood of unique and independent shops was a perfect match for my vision. I grew up shopping Main Street and have already logged plenty of hours in this very building as a customer. When I first unlocked the doors at 704 Main I could not believe I would be operating out of the former space of Dave’s Rock Shop. Let just say it was a very weepy moment for me.
What sets your business apart from others that sell the same products?
If you’ve shopped with us you know that we are always evolving. Our selection and even the arrangement of our space will always be offering something new to see. We try to have the same mentality with the range of events that we host. We offer ongoing personal plant care tips and will talk you through picking a plant for your needs. Our selection is meticulously curated, with items appropriate for any budget, also showcasing work from local artists and vendors. Creating a space for community through our events and the day to day plant chats we have with our customers is the highlight of what we do, and our terrariums are one of a kind!
What advice would you give to someone who was thinking about opening a business?
Absolutely love what you do and why you are doing it! Be prepared to learn and be creative and flexible. It's not for the faint of heart. I've been told I'm brave. Hey, that might be a great drinking game for small business owners: Brave or Crazy? Drink!