– Written by Lisa Kinoshita
Should anyone question why the world needs a plant boutique, Jade & Co., an oasis of green in the 6th Ave. business district, has a cheeky tagline – “Because flowers die”. Owner Jennie Serrano specializes in succulents, but also offers a full array of leafy, air-scrubbing plants that are both striking and easy to care for. The shop’s glass-and-bamboo tables are stacked with thriving foliage, as well as unusual vessels to brighten house or patio, plant-care basics and gift items.
On a recent Saturday morning, masked customers moseyed in for a fresh-brewed cup from Terra Cotta Coffee, a new coffee kiosk located inside Jade & Co., and savored a break from coronavirus isolation while perusing plants. The store is laid out in four sections to give four types of plants the right amount of natural light they need: bright (e.g., cacti), medium (pepperonia, philodendron, spider plants), low (variegated snake plants), and artificial (to pamper the succulents, including baby plants in propagation trays). A humidifier keeps moisture-loving plants such as staghorn ferns and calathea happy.
“Now with COVID everyone is spending more time at home. People are nourishing and nurturing their environment with greenery,” said Serrano, who has been a registered nurse for 20 years. Some nursing skills naturally transfer over to plants, she mused. “There are some common parallels in keeping people alive and keeping plants alive. Now I’m a plant nurse,” and one who is ready to share her knowledge with customers. “We can teach [plant care] – it’s not that difficult if you just remember light equals food to a plant.”
A recent graduate of the Spaceworks business training program, she moved Jade & Co. from its original location in University Place to Sixth Ave., and has seen a three-fold increase in business. Though she had been selling plants for years, it was a solo enterprise, “mostly at farmers markets, and so much work packing the car with plants” and displays for the day. She was at the point of burnout, she said, when she signed up for the Spaceworks program with 11 other local creative entrepreneurs. “It was a crash course in business organization,” she laughed. During the course, the cohort supplied mutual support and feedback while learning to grow their respective businesses, “and we still meet monthly.” Both the group and the local community have been “embracing and supportive.”
Today, Serrano has four employees, each with a different botanical specialty – and a lot more energy for enjoyment of her work. The store is open six days a week, but because of coronavirus, its popup classes have gone online. Popular offerings have included a terrarium-making class for kids, in which they make mini-worlds inhabited by fun characters. An October demo will show how to make a succulent pumpkin bowl; online registration is $40, and participants will pick up all the ingredients they need at the store, then follow along on Zoom.
Troubleshooting plant maladies is a Jade & Co. specialty: “From a photo we can troubleshoot and keep a plant alive – maybe,” said Serrano. “We call it plant CPR.” They also offer a handy service called “drainage drilling” – a quick fix for anyone who has bought a pot somewhere only to get home and find that it has no drainage hole, which can lead to mold and root rot. The overnight service costs $1.
And, for those who appreciate the ephemeral beauty of cut flowers, Jade & Co. offers “BYOB – build your own bouquet”, with new arrivals at the store’s flower creation station every Thursday. The perfect way to finish a visit: Take a selfie against the vibrant “Planted in 253” outdoor mural painted by @mystic.graphics.
Jade & Co. Succulent Boutique
3001 6th Ave. – Unit B
Tacoma, WA 98406