My plant journey started two years ago. I started LOOF as a hobby to help me with my depression & anxiety. I find that I get completely wrapped up in what I’m doing and time flies by. It also gave me something to care for & learn about. Plants are so fascinating, the more I researched into terrariums & plants, the more I wanted to learn.
As adults I feel like we’ve lost something we had when we were children. That curiosity and fearlessness of throwing yourself into anything. And plants have done that for me. They’ve filled a void I didn’t even knew I had.
Also the excitement it brings now that it’s growing season. Literally I want to explode! My Alocasia Wentii has had it’s 3rd leaf unravelling this last couple of weeks. My Monstera (obliqua/adansonii) has two new leaves sprout this year. My Epiphyllum anguliger has had so much new growth, it’s insane. I’m growing chili’s & peppers which I have no idea what I’m doing but they’ve germinated and have little green sprouts.
A lot of my plants are rescues and I live in a basement flat, so I’m beyond thrilled that these plants are thriving. I love rescuing plants, I just want to give all of the plants, all of the love (just like with my obsession with dogs).
Then working at Wild Leaf I get to be around plants all day and it’s making my dream of LOOF & having a shop a reality. It also has opened up a wonder of new specimens to get familiar with. You slowly start to fall in love with certain plants in the shop or even when you get a delivery you literally scream when you get a new species as you’re too excited!
It also gives me the opportunity to really get my business set up and get creative again. Which is something I completely lost through my darker periods.
Plants give me that escape I need. When I’m with them, I stop caring about everything else and put all my focus on them. Find that thing that turns you into a kid again.
Pilea peperomioides is definitely at the top of my list for favourite plants and a must have. They are SO easy to care for and I think, one of the most versatile plants out there. Not only does it have interesting foliage, they produce pups rapidly which makes them super easy to propagate.
I got my Pilea sometime in 2017, late summer/early autumn. It already produced one pup when I bought it, but I’ve been able to take 3 cuttings from it! The largest cutting I’m water propagating and the two smaller ones I’m using soil. I just like to get experimental and get hands on to learn.
common name: Chinese money plant.
light: Bright / dappled sun – careful not to leave it in full sun for too long, this could burn the leaves. Mine seems to do well getting some morning sun or late afternoon light.
water: During the growing season you want the keep the soil slightly moist and allowing the top layer of soil to dry out. During winter months reduce watering and allow the soil to dry out a little bit more. – Be careful of central heating this might make the soil to dry out quicker. Best way to check if the plant needs watering is to stick your finger in the soil. Depending on how much soil is on your finger, you’ll be able to tell if your plant needs watering.
Top tip: Keep rotating the plant for it to evenly grow.
Why get one? – Not only does it propagate easily (you can share these cuttings with friends), the foliage is extremely interesting to look at and has a high leaf turn over. There’s nothing better than being able to watch new leaves coming through.
I know I haven’t been doing my blog recently, which I’m sorry about. It was a rough start to the year to say the least. But now that the sun is shining I feel like I’m emerging out of my winter slumber. There’s also been a lot going on as well, with collaborations and new projects. I’ve also been thinking about what I want from my brand and what direction I would like to take it.
This year I’m totally following my creative side more. I’ve decided to explore my photography and my watering colourings. When I started the year I had goals for something completely different. I desperately wanted to have my own shop filled with plants, terrariums and some lifestyle products. With my blog, trying to write a blog post once a week was stressful. I’m not organised enough for that! Also with my depression coming back my motivation to do anything about it completely out the window. I’m now going to do more ‘Plant Diaries’ – where I’ll talk about specific plants that I have in my collection, projects I’m working on, just more of a focus on plants in generally. I’ll still cover my art and I’d still love to do my Meet the Maker as I have so many talented friends surrounding me I want to shout about it!
A few months ago I joined forces with Wild Leaf and from the start it was ‘go-go-go’. We did a collab together for Harvey Nichols which was insane! It was so much fun working on the terrariums, the kokedama and then getting to photograph the space after we filled it with plants. It was also great experience into plantscaping. I’m slowly updating @loofphotography with my work, keep an eye on it for updates!
I know work in the shop during the week, which I absolutely adore and I have my best gal pal, Octavia, to thank about that. If she didn’t introduce myself and Tya, I wouldn’t have this opportunity right now.
Another big thing I’ve been working towards is my workshops and last week I did my first one. It was fun and nerve wracking experience. I’m still struggling to find my identity especially mentally, I seem to be switching between Robi and my old self.
Recently I haven’t been feeling myself, as well as being extremely sick (story of my life), which meant I had to postpone the first date. The morning of the first one, I was totally getting myself into a right anxious mess. But the whole evening went really smoothly and I really enjoyed myself. I definitely could do with loosening up, but that’ll come with time. Now I’ve had time to reflect I can really focus on the positives from it, before my brain just focuses on the negatives. The little things that in the end didn’t even matter. Everyone enjoyed themselves and walked away with big smiles on their faces and that’s all I need to focus on.
Living in a basement flat really limits the plants that are suitable for my flat. It’s dingy, damp and draughty. Pretty much inhabitable for plants. But there is hope, if I can make plant work in my flat so can you!
If you’re like me and live some where dark and dingy, here are my top plants for dark spaces. They’re also easy plants to care for, even if you don’t have the greenest of thumbs. Don’t worry we’ve all killed our fair share of plants.
Native to tropical America, this plant has beautiful heart shaped leaves and is great for low lit rooms. Growing high in the trees this epiphyte is a trailing vine or you can train it to climb. Another plus to owning a Philodendron is that it’s so easy to care for. Keep the soil moist in summer, but never waterlogged this can cause root rot.. Allow it to dry out in the winter. They like humidity, mist occasionally otherwise I like to take mine into the shower with me. It’s fast growing and easy to propagate. A must have in my eyes.
Not one I have in my collection yet but snake plants are SO easy to care for. This plant is perfect if you’re looking to add green to your flat but not overly green fingered. Native to western tropical Africa, it’s very slow growing but is great to have in low lit bedrooms as they release oxygen during the night. Too lower light will dull the markings on the leaves, just move to a less shady spot. Allow to completely dry out between watering.
Peace lilies are another super easy plant to look after and great for those darker rooms. These evergreen plants are native to tropical regions of America and southeastern Asia. This flowering plant produces lush white flowers but in the right conditions. Check the soil before watering, if it’s damp don’t water, if dry it’s safe to water. Another way of checking to see if your Spathiphyllum needs watering is that the leave start to droop, once watered you’ll see them bounce back. I adopted a couple of Spathiphyllums off my parents which I’ll need to repot this spring and also have an extremely root bound one that my partner sort of neglected which I’ll be trying to bring it to its full potential.
There’s many different species you can have. I particularly like the Bird’s nest fern. It’s big beautiful green leaves and the way the fronds unravel from the centre captivate me. Ferns are great for low leveled light but do require a little more care and attention then some of the above. Never place a Asplenium in direct sunlight as this will cause damage to the leaves, keep the soil moist and allow the top layer to dry out in between watering and they love being misted. Again I like to take mine in to the shower to really get the humidity right.
This guy goes by many names Devil’s ivy, Golden pothos are just to name a couple. Attractive for the markings on the leaves they can easily be confused as a variegated Philodendron, however the leaves shape and size are different. It’s a climbing plant that you can either train or allow it trail over the pot. Again this is pretty easy to care for and can tolerate low light. This can stunt the growth but if you have a slightly less shady area it’ll be much happier. Never allow the soil to be soggy and let it dry out a little in between watering and they love humidity. This is also another plant that can easily be propagated by taking a small cutting.
After recently discovering and studying Marimo moss balls I had to share more about these fascinating fellas. There’s even a legend that comes with them, which is just as adorable as they are.
Marimo moss balls are a must have to anyone’s budding collection, they’re super cute, so easy to care for and love cool dark spots. Perfect if you live in a basement flat like myself!
Latin name: Aegagropila linnaei
Marimo is a Japanese word that translates to ‘seaweed ball’. They’re technically not moss, but a rare form of algae that grow in lakes in the Northern hemisphere. These slow growers can live for hundreds of years and naturally form into spheres from the currents. Growing at a rate of 5mm a year they grow between 8 – 12 inches in the wild. Their natural habitat is fresh water lakes in Japan, Estonia, Iceland, Scotland & Australia. They’re even considered a national treasure in Japan with some parts of the country having Marimo Festivals.
Japanese folklore has it that Marimo came from the spirits of two lovers. The legend has it that a tribals chief’s daughter fell in love with a commoner but their love was forbidden. The couple decide to run away but tragically fell into the Lake Akan where their spirits changed into the moss balls.
Marimo moss balls are a token of love, affection and good luck. It is also said Marimo bring the giver and receiver their heart’s desire.
Your Marimo will like being kept somewhere with low-medium indirect sunlight and out of direct sunlight completely. Place them somewhere cool, keep away from any heat source in the winter.
Change the water every couple of week, you may be able to get away with changing it once a month in the winter. I prefer to collect rainwater for my Marimo moss balls, but you can use tap water, just let it sit for 24 hours before placing the Marimo in.
I’d recommend cleaning the glass each time you change the water as you might find there might be a buildup of unwanted algae.
Marimo should be a lovely deep green colour. If your Marimo are browning place them in a cooler, darker space and hopefully they’ll change back. If not you may need to add some aquarium ocean salt.
You can find our Marimo moss ball terrariums here.
Welcome to the first Meet the Maker of 2018. This time we’re introducing you to Chloe, designer and creator of Make & Matter.
Chloe produces exquisite concrete and jesmonite planters as well as small homewares. I spotted these planters when browsing around PRICK over a year ago. Since then you can now find Chloe’s work all over Bristol. But let’s get to know the process of how Make & Matter began.
Before starting Make & Matter, Chloe has had a lot of hands on experience within her field. Starting from a young age, Chloe recalls how her mother would involve her in casting their bodies in different materials.
Chloe also worked for a top designer, Oreil Hardwood for 10 years. She was apart of a small team that would create her furniture in cast resin. Although Chloe may use different materials from her ‘mentor’, you can see the skill and years of practicing these techniques in her own work.
As well as gathering experience and techniques from her time working with Hardwood, Chloe has also worked in many workshops and studios. Taking all this knowledge and with an interest in handmade and small batch production. Chloe wanted to explore the wider production opportunities that the UK had to offer. After winning a competition by The Southbank Centre and the Observer, which helped her set up production in Stoke on Trent producing some of her ceramic designs.
Not only has Chloe achieved all this, she also runs a successful jewellery business. This stemmed from making her own engagement ring in which she fell in love with the process. Each piece was inspired by meaningful points in her life, her marriage and the death of her grandma. But noticed that she was sat writing emails and doing other aspects of the business which she didn’t enjoy as much. Which brought her to starting Make & Matter.
When starting this new venture, Chloe wanted to make everything herself from start to finish. This also gave her the chance to develop and experiment with using different materials, processes and ideas. It also gave Chloe the freedom to work more on what she loves. Rather than focusing on admin and sales.
Even with the mountainous amount of experience, Chloe is still learning parts of the industry she hasn’t been apart of yet. Now selling to smaller independent retailers, she’s noticed the difference in business between companies. Where it’s more supportive, informal and forgiving. The business is growing organically with Chloe adapting and changing small bits of the business she knew she would be able to change later in the process.
I think we can all agree on how beautifully created Chloe’s cement and jesmonite planters are. You really appreciate the time and effort that is put into each one. If you’d like to get your hands on some, head over to Make & Matter’s Etsy Shop or pop into The Might Quinns Flower Emporium or Old Market Plants.
Built into the Barbican Centre is a beautiful urban jungle to escape to if you need to get away from the chaotic city. Only open to the public on Sundays, the conservatory is a must visit for all plant obsessed people. Multilevelled and with an arid conservatory, there’s plenty of specimens for you to admire.
I visited the Barbican Conservatory with my best plant pal, Octavia last year. I wrote a small blog post about all the top plant shops and the conservatory. Below is a series of photographs I took of my visit, using my film camera. I hope you enjoy.
Most people warn you away from starting your own business. The risks are high and you’ve got to put in a lot of effort for not much initial reward. Starting your own business is hard at the best of times, but throw in depression and the darkness of winter it makes it that little bit harder. People either tell you you’re crazy or they congratulate you in doing your own thing. This is what I’ve learnt so far on my journey.
Depression won’t stop you but it might take a little longer.
Now, depression affects everyone differently. Mine definitely gets a bit worse when the days get darker and it’s cold out. It’s hard to get that motivation to get out of bed to actually do anything. My body just wants to go into hibernation and I want to eat constantly. Exercising goes out of the window and pretty much all my daily habits are forgotten about.
But since taking antidepressants it’s definitely made this winter period a little more bearable. Of course staying in bed would be way better, but who’s going to do the work when it’s just yourself? Working alone means you’ve got to do all the work with very little help. Give yourself a time frame. It’s going to take you a lot longer to complete some tasks than you think. Give yourself a little leeway and things don’t always go to plan. Also make some reachable goals. Last year I gave myself six goals to complete and managed to fully complete five of them.
Write these goals down and carry them with you at all times.
Set yourself tasks
Setting yourself tasks on a daily basis really helps. Every evening I try to sit down and give myself three tasks to really focus on the next day. If I’m going through a really good positive phase, I can complete these tasks and more in a day. If my depression is at the forefront it’s much harder to complete them. Sometime I’ll give myself a personal task like ‘stay positive’ to help with my mental wellbeing which can help.
Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t complete all the task. Some tasks are more than a day’s work, break it up and spread it out. Try not to put too much pressure on yourself to complete them you can always roll the tasks onto another day. This is where being your own ‘boss’ comes in handy. And sometimes other projects take priority or a task pops up that needs to be completed there and then. You’ll need to be flexible.
Every evening write down three tasks to focus on the next day.
Business or Pleasure
A great thing about starting your own business is that you should be working towards a goal or passion. This leads to your work and personal life almost merging together. There’s blurred lines when you have your own business because work can feel like pleasure. This one gets me all the time. I love being hands on in my business and some days I feel like I’ve done no work because I’ve had so much fun. My business and personal life overlap a lot, especially creating a personal brand. I’m trying to put myself completely into the business. Remember to take some time for yourself. For me it’s the little things, taking a walk, grabbing a morning coffee.
Don’t over do it, schedule some down time.
This a biggun. The one people fear the most and boy it’s scary. How will you pay yourself? Will you be able to pay yourself? Can you afford to set up your own business? It’s terrifying that you might not have a stable source of income for a while. But it can strive you to really go out there and get it.
I packed my secure job at a Roastery about four months ago and each month I have a tiny little mental break down about my financial situation. This is a big trigger for my depression as well, I’ll start telling myself that my businesses is not sufficient, that it was a stupid idea to start my own business, just give up already and get that regular paycheck. I try not to listen to those thoughts.
If you focus hard enough on creating the money you need, more than likely you will be able to reach it. Focus on that one bit that brings the money in. It’s gonna get tough before it gets better and be aware that you’ll have to put a lot of your money into the business.
Part-time work is always an option.
If you’re a creative opting to start your own business, more than likely you have no idea about the business side of things. At least that is for me. I’m having to learn a whole side to running a business that never even crossed my mind. You’ll find that you’ll probably be winging a lot of it to begin with and until you learn it, it’s all about winging it. What it does mean is that you’re learning. Teaching yourself something you didn’t know anything about.
Loof started as a hobby, I was just creating work because I could. There were no boundaries. But once it was becoming more serious, I knew I had to get some help. Enrolling for the Prince’s Trust was great, and they’ve put me in a clear direction of what I need to do. My workload has increased dramatically but that’s just another part of it.
If you want to make your business a reality, get help. Apply for the Prince’s Trust or find another charity or establishment that helps entrepreneurs. They’ll send you in the right direction and you won’t be completely winging it!
Every time you challenge yourself, you acquire a new skill.
Just do it already.
If you want it, you’ll do it. My depression was probably a catalyst in making this decision to start this business, or at least pursue it as my career. The thought of going back to a ‘normal’ job scares me and I love the freedom having your own business gives you. I’ve got loads of hurdles to overcome and I’m sure my depression is going to make it a super bumpy ride. But to hell with it. Fuck doing things for other people, I’m doing this for me.
Thank you for taking the time to read my blog post. I hope you found it interesting and insightful.
If you have any questions or fancy a chat, I’m just an email or personal message away. Robi x
Images courtesy of Beth Evans, Abandon Ship and not my own.
With 2017 drawing to a close and everyone getting ready to party their way into 2018. I’ve pulled out the best bits of Loof from 2017 and tell you the plans for 2018.
2017 has been a great year for Loof. We’ve had our regular spot at the BS5 Market each month, we’ve innovated our terrariums and collaborated with some awesome artists.
We were at 8 markets over the Christmas period, we think that’s pretty good going for our first Christmas. We hope to attend many more markets over 2018 and hopefully you might see us at some in Bath.
We’ve changed the supplier of our terrariums to bring you a completely handmade product. And worked on some awesome custom projects.
Our collaboration with Ropa Lobita has seen us sell out of our Loof Leaf design. We hope to bring out some more unisex tees for everyone to enjoy!
I’d personally like to thank everyone who has bought anything over the year, you’ve truly kept me doing what I’m doing. Struggling with depression, my mind tells me to give up on a daily basis. But seeing the support, seeing you share your photos and giving me feedback makes me strive to bring you high quality, hand crafted products! Keep sharing and spreading the love, we all need it in this world today!
We’re looking forward to the New Year with loads of projects to get our teeth stuck into. Now let’s raise a couple of glasses and welcome in the New Year.
The main reason for going to London was to carry out some market research and checking out how the top places in London are doing it. In my last blog post I wrote about Palm Vaults, (it’s awesome check it out) but we also visited lots of collaborative stores that incorporate plants into their interior or ethos.
This place is picturesque and I could have spent a lot more time photographing the inside. Before you even get through the door there’s an entourage of tall palms outside, once inside everywhere you look there’s a plant! Filled to the brim with a large variety of houseplants, cacti, succulents, tillandsias, that’s just a fraction of it all!
The Conservatory Achieves isn’t just a shop to buy plants, it’s a showroom. It showcases the impact plants can have on people. If you take a look through their Instagram you can see they’re much more than that, installing large pieces of plants displays into businesses.
Prick is London’s first ever cacti specialist shop. And from the outside the large cacti in the window draw you right in. Owner, Gynelle knows a lot about this subject and has just written a book. As well as a variety of cacti and succulents to purchase, there’s a supply of beautifully crafted planters. It’s where I found out about Chloe, the beauty behind Make & Matter.
The store is extremely light making you feel relaxed and helps you envision how they’d look in your home. Don’t be scared away from the pricing of the larger species, some of them are hundreds of years old, making them much more of a collector’s item or if you’re looking for that statement piece.
Cuemars is a collaborative space that fuses a passion for plants, interior and fashion. It’s full of quirky and interesting products with a main focus towards botanical themed home decor.
Working alongside their friends, you have terrariums next to handmade leather purses, practical clothing and other beautiful items. There’s artwork to browse through with foliage dotted around the shop. It’s lovely, it’s got everything to brighten up your interior.