A Conversation with Rosarina Plant Shop
Today we’re hanging out with Erika Mayer, founder of Rosarina Plant Shop - an indoor plant shop based in Asheville, North Carolina.
What began as a mobile plant shop on a school bus in March 2019 has now grown into a full-time business providing consultations, installations, and maintenance. Rosarina Plant Shop is a vibrant and thriving botanical haven in North Carolina's heart. With a deep passion for plants and a commitment to exceptional service, Rosarina Plant Shop has become a beloved destination for plant enthusiasts and nature lovers.
Rosarina Plant Shop has expanded to three retail locations, each supporting an already existing brick-and-mortar business. Their unique business model allows them to stay true to their mission - that plants should be accessible to everyone for many reasons, but most importantly, as a portal to empathy. Plants provide us with an opportunity to nurture, experience joy, practice mindfulness, improve air quality, and establish a connection with our primal instincts by bringing a touch of nature into our homes.
Follow Rosarina Plant Shop on Instagram for even more insight into her creativity.
Session: How did you get the initial idea to start Rosarina?
Erika: Where every great idea starts: after an anxiety-inducing amount of coffee that makes you question your life choices and promise yourself, yet again, that you will switch to tea. Jk jk, the initial idea came to me at my desk while working long hours as a landscape architect in San Francisco. I felt gutted, defeated about dedicating so much money and time to get to this place and realizing it wasn’t where I wanted to be, tapping away at a computer day after day. I had clear, direct knowledge that working with plants made me the happiest. My best job was working as a landscaper, making 8 dollars an hour, clipping hedges, planting, watering, saving seeds, and propagating. I realized somewhere along the way, I started chasing money and doing what I thought would make my parents proud instead of what I loved, and I knew I needed to make a change. Luckily, I thrive in moments of big change, so I put one foot in front of the other in that direction.
Session: What came first, the idea or the school bus?
Erika: The idea of living mobile is actually what came first. I always had this romantic idea of living small and mobile- probably spurred by the apocalyptic feeling of living in California with all its natural disasters and the cost of housing in San Francisco- and so I was already entertaining the idea of converting a bus of some kind as a home (which I didn’t end up doing). Naturally, when it came time to pick a work vehicle for the plant shop, I picked a bus I could convert into a home in a pinch if the apocalypse ever came or if this business idea was a total bust.
When I started firming up the idea of leaving my job, I first came up with a name. Once you can put language into something, it’s almost like you birth it into existence, becoming an entity of its own. Things tend to fall into place after that. The name I chose was “Rosarina," a term used to describe women from Rosario, Argentina, and is a nod to my mother, my cultural history, and the strong women in my story who taught me about creating nurturing spaces and traditions. It reminds me regularly of how wild and brave it was for my parents to come here in their early 20s without knowing the language. I'm not sure how thrilled my dad was that I quit my career to drive a school bus and start a plant shop, but I’m hoping somewhere deep down, he recognizes that same wildness.
Session: As a fellow creative entrepreneur, how do you balance the stress of running a business while maintaining your creativity?
Erika: Slowing down, being present, and carrying a small notebook with colored pencils in my purse are my secret weapons. That, and a Pinterest board. Culturally, we tend to idolize the grind, and I used to believe I did my best creative work under the crippling pressure of a deadline. But I think that’s because it was the way all my creative jobs were set up. I’m starting to realize it's not the case, and I am actively reducing how much work I pack into my day, even if it means I won’t make as much money. Having the time to follow creative leads when they strike has been fulfilling and, ultimately, better for my business.
Session: It’s your day off with no to-do list. What does your “me” day of relaxation look like?
Erika: A “me” day off would start with a thorough, spa-like face washing (with ALL the creams) followed by a visit to my veggie garden with my matcha tea to do some watering in my PJs. Afterward, I walk to my favorite breakfast spot with a book, notebook, and colored pencils. Next up, I am popping into a thrift store to see if there are any treasures for me. Once I get home, I pick up my sweetie, pack my Session pipe and some prosciutto and brie sandwiches, and drive to the Blue Ridge Parkway for some truck-bed-sitting and sunset watching at one of the overlooks. We end the day watching a movie or drawing together and fighting sleep like a couple of five-year-olds. A perfect day.
Session: What is your favorite indoor plant right now?
Erika: This changes constantly, but at this very moment, I am mesmerized by a Cissus discolor I just purchased for myself. Maidenhair ferns and Philodendron micans are long-time favorites.
Session: Any advice for those of us with brown thumbs who are aspiring plant parents?
Erika: It takes time to learn the language of plants, but once you get it and understand their needs, it just clicks, and you really get to cruising. You are going to kill many plants in the beginning. Don’t feel bad about this the same way you don’t feel bad about eating a salad. Start with small, lower-priced plants, do a little reading on what species you have, and then try to care for them. Every loss is a lesson, so don’t fret.
Session: Are you working on anything new or want to share anything exciting happening at Rosarina?
Erika: We have been working with a hotel in town and outfitting their entire space with plants. They have given me a budget and practically free reign - It’s been so recharging to try new things like green walls and massive preserved moss panels. I think people will see more preserved moss work from us in the future. I’m loving it.