Becca and Nieve have been friends for 8 years after they met each other at a local gig when Becca was performing. The two found that they had a lot in common, especially their ever-growing houseplant collection and so their friendship flourished from that night.
Prior to starting up Nook Houseplants, Becca worked as a mental health councillor and Nieve taught secondary school art and specialised in ceramics. Caring for the community, teaching young people and being creative still resonates very strongly in the work they do for Nook today.
During the beginning of the pandemic, Becca and Nieve headed to all of the garden centres in and around Plymouth, seeing what they could find to add to their collection. Although they are both big fans of garden centres, they always found themselves disappointed with the lack of care and attention that the houseplants received. More often than not, each plant is watered the same with very little knowledge of their individual care needs. Becca and Nieve knew that they had the knowledge required to do it themselves and to ensure less plants are wasted due to lack of care.
They have both always enjoyed not only collecting all kinds of plants but taking cuttings and propagating plants in their spare time. During the first lockdown when they had a little bit of spare time, they began propagating on a larger scale and together, set up a Facebook page where they could share care tips with the online houseplant community. This Facebook page became popular, very quickly and with their new following, they decided to set up an e-commerce website. They sold every plant that they had successfully propagated and within 24 hours of launching the website, they had completely sold out.
With their audience in full support of their endeavours, Becca and Nieve knew they could take this one step further and so with heaps of research into business and suppliers, they set up Nook Houseplants online.
Up next on their agenda was to get a shop. Having grown up and worked on the Barbican, Becca and Nieve already had a sense of community there and they had their eye on this tiny shop within The House That Jack Built. As long as it could fit in all of their houseplants, a large shop was never something they wanted so they were chuffed to bits when they were able to set up shop in 10 Southside Street.
Just prior to this, Becca and Nieve wanted to grow Nook’s presence within the community before making the huge step and opening up the shop. They attended various markets such as; Native Makers, Union Street Party, Nudge Community and University and college fairs. They also did lots of pop-ups in other local shops and cafes like Prime Bar Café, Vessell, Yoke, Cake Whole and Cawfee.
Becca and Nieve are all so thankful and grateful to this day, for the local businesses that helped to promote Nook when they were just getting on their feet into the world of business.
On the 14th of April 2021, just after the third lockdown restrictions had been released, Becca and Nieve opened the doors to their brand-new shop on the Barbican. With the success of the pop-up shops and their online shop, they were both able to quit their full-time jobs and take Nook on with their full attention. Becca and Nieve were the first people in Plymouth to open up a Plymouth based houseplant business and they welcome others to do the same as they love seeing the high streets full of plants and plant businesses.
“The response from both locals and tourists have been amazing! We never expected it to take off the way it has.”- Nieve.
The two friends have been blown away by the support from other local businesses on the barbican and other houseplant shop owners, as well as their lovely customers.
“When you are working with such lovely people and promoting something you are genuinely passionate about, work never quite feels like work.” – Becca
Nook Houseplants sell a wide variety of plants, the majority are easy to care for and pet friendly. They also have a large selection of smaller plants that are perfect for gifts or new plant owners. Nook always love to offer their customers something that you can’t find in your average supermarket plant section which is why they have an ever-increasing collection of rare plant species.
To go with the plants, they also offer different pots made from ceramics, concrete, seagrass and many more. Nieve and her mum handcraft ceramic pots which they sell in the shop, they are also a stockist for a local plant pot company called ‘Foxy pots’. They sell plant care products like pest control, plant food and plant spray, and they also make their own potting mix which they both use for their own plants.
Collaborating with local businesses is something Becca and Nieve love doing. They sell cards from a local artist and have also kitted out a few local businesses with their plants, one, in particular, being Ocean View bar & restaurant located in The Dome.
They are always there to recommend a certain plant to you or advise you against purchasing a troublesome plant if you are new to being a plant owner. The care of the plant is a top priority for them and so they like to do all that they can to ensure that the plant will be well looked after when the customer takes it home. Another thing they recommended you do is to take an image of the space you wish to put your plant so that when you come into the store, they can suggest the best plants for that particular spot in your house.
Care cards are given to each individual plant with watering instructions and sunlight preferences to ensure the best for the plant once it has left Nook’s care. Alongside these care cards, Becca and Nieve are also here for any plant-based advice and support. Google is a faceless platform whereby some of the information can be incorrect or based on opinion, whereas when you speak to Nook, they are genuine people who want to help you and your plant, even if your plant wasn’t purchased with them. Becca and Nieve pride themselves on their knowledge of plants and plant care so they are confident in giving you the best advice. If you find yourself struggling with a particular plant, you can always take it into the Nook for Becca and Nieve to have a look at and find the issue, otherwise, you can always take a photo of the plant and send it to Nook via email or their social media platforms.
No matter what they chose to sell, whether it was plants, food or socks, the forefront of what they are doing is providing the community with somebody to talk to and offer support when needed. Because purchasing a plant is a luxury, the plants act as a conversation starter whereby they can offer a friendly face and a helping hand.
The recent pandemic has sparked people’s interest in houseplants because they have given people something to focus on and to care for. Along with the plants themselves, Becca and Nieve are here as a friend to talk to and listen to your stories about not just your plants, but your life too.
In the future, they’d like to expand the business and offer workshops and educational classes for both children and adults. Workshops may include plant-based gifts, wreath making and ceramics. In order to do this, they will need to expand the team to one other person to help man the shop and take care of the plants. They would like to continue to be a part of the community and get involved in charities and collaborations with other local businesses.
Becca and Nieve have created a successful business as a result of the pandemic and are excited to continue along their path to sprucing up the homes of Plymouth with gorgeous green foliage and offering a friendly face to have a chat to on The Barbican.