Combining the love of art and plants into a business- Green Space Nepal

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Shanti and Rasmita are childhood friends, went to the same school, same college. Now after being together for such a long period, these friends have taken a step ahead and have started Green Space Nepal, a startup offering plants with artistic pots.
Green Space Nepal along with its cute and beautiful products is a startup built through the passion and love for plants and art. Read on to know more about them and their startup.

1. How did the concept of “Green Space Nepal” ideate?
Green Space Nepal I would say is the product of passion that Rasmita has for sketching and painting and that I have for plants. We never thought that we would turn the love for plants and art into a business but it did happen.
I have always loved plants and I have varieties of plants in my garden but I used to get disheartened when people visiting my place plucked them to raise them at their places, not because I didn’t want them to have the plants but because I feel that the plants don’t deserve that. So, I jokingly proposed the idea of selling the plants, but that turned into reality. Rasmita then added her creativity to make the vases attractive for people to invest in our products as green gifts.
Also the fact that, rather than gifting showpieces, frames and other sorts of gifts, we thought it was much more appropriate to give plants as gifts, that would actually be useful.
So all this led to the commercialization of our concept and hence led to establishment of Green Space Nepal in July. Since then it has been a satisfying as well as an impactful journey. We have been able to work in the area we are passionate about.

2. Where do you get the plants and the pots from? Do you stock your inventories?
For the plants, we started off with the local ones like money plants, succulent that I had grown in my house but nowadays, we also have imported plants which we collect from different nurseries inside the valley.  As for the vases and pot, we get it customized and ordered from a factory at Bhaktapur.
Talking about stocking the inventories, yes, we do have some stocks for samples and quick deliveries. But in case of customized products, we take a day or two to get the pots and plants from the factory and nurseries respectively and to design the pots. Currently, we are trying to minimize the stock as much as possible as we are more into customization. 

3. How do you design the pots?
Rasmita looks after that. She makes the pots attractive by painting on them. Currently we have pots with Mandala paintings, Mithila Chitrakala and so on. Apart from painting she has also made the pots beautiful by adding threads on the outside and also through knitting works on the pots. 

4. What are the challenges that you’re facing as a start up?
We have orders from outside the valley too but we have not been able to adequately cater that market segment. We have been able to deliver only up to Dharan as of now. So, the delivery and logistics is one of the challenges for us.
Further, nurturing plants is a challenge in itself, especially those that have been imported as it is vital to consider weather, humidity, fertilizers, and so on. Although high in demand, these plants are expensive as well as take a significant time to get them. So, that has been another challenge for us.
Likewise, since we buy the pots, it is often difficult to get the exact design and size we are looking for and sometimes there is also a tradeoff between quality and design if they make customized products for us. So, as a result catering to the customers’ preference becomes challenging at times. 

green-space-nepal

5. Is there a standard to ensure the quality and consistency of your products?
We are yet to have standardized  procedures in place as of now. But, we have associated ourselves with two to three nurseries who are guiding and supporting us in taking care of plants. Also, we have been using organic manure and local resources for the soil to ensure that our customers can get those resources easily when needed. 

6. What are your future plans for “Green Space Nepal”?
We are gradually planning to promote our product as one of the valuable gifts to be shared among people. Further, we plan to open an outlet if our financial aspects are in favor, where we will not only be selling the plants but we will also be conducting training and seminars on nurturing the plant to those interested. For the seminars and the training, we are planning to mainly target the housewives. And after the training we plan to buy seeds, baby plants from them. We believe this will help us determine the effectiveness of our training as well as promote economic empowerment. 

7. Any unique customer experience you’d want to share?
To be honest, it is really difficult to state one experience as unique. Customers normally get our products from gifts and it feels really nice that Green Space goes along in any special occasions that our customers’ have.
As for one incident, one of our male customers wanted to give a jasmine plant to his girlfriend as a surprise. When we delivered the plant, his girlfriend was head over heels with the gesture made by her man as well as our product. They gave us  thank you note and after a few months, sent us the picture of the plant, so that is something very special and close to us.

8. How long does it take to get the product delivered?
It actually depends on plants and the cut of it. Normally, we take a maximum of two days but it might also take longer if the pots are to be customized. However, we do have the experience of placing the order within one hour. 

9. Is a “Green Space Nepal” operating full time? How are you balancing your corporate jobs and the start-up?
Rashmita and I both have flexible jobs- I work as a consultant and my friend works in an INGO. So, we have been able to balance two areas quite well. We give almost 60 percent of our time to Green Space Nepal. We are mainly working full time in Green Space Nepal during the Saturdays and Sundays and for normal days, we spare time to look after the plants in mornings and evenings.  

10. How has your  journey as a social entrepreneur been so far?
We have not had much exposure in social media and have not been pushing the business through promotional ideas. All of the customers we have are through word of mouth and we would like to term it as our “organic customers”. Moreover,  everyone has been so supportive and encouraging. They flood us with different feedback and appreciation. So, it feels great. 

Check out their products at @greenspacenepal

Transcribed by Sujana Joshi

Interviewed and Edited by Trishna Shakya