Interviews

Celebrate International Women’s Day with Words of Wisdom from Female Founders

In celebration of International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month, we asked female makers and movers that we admire what inspired them and what advice they would share.

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It's International Women's Day, and we can't think of many women we'd love to highlight more than these visionary founders in the plants and nature space. Each of these talented women has not only realized her creative dreams, but also brought beauty into the world with her unique aesthetic and design sensibility.

Plus, you can shop ‘em all, including female-founded yours truly, here on The Sill.

Meet Nina Booth, Creator & Owner of Right Side Hand

“Unique and original floral stories influenced by nature herself”
@rightsidehand

What inspired you to start Right Side Hand?
In 2019 I started selling holiday wreaths and centerpieces at a local farmers market. When California went into lockdown in March 2020, I grabbed my dried-flower collection and began arranging them to get my mind off of what was happening in the world. I began sharing them on my Instagram page and getting inquiries on how people could purchase them and if I offer virtual workshops. One thing led to another and now here I am.

What keeps your inspiration going?
My entire life I’ve been a creative and daydreamer. It’s how I’m hardwired. My environment, possibilities, and memories inspire me to create beautiful and delicate work using botanicals and fungi.

Share some words of wisdom…
Be kind and be smart while following the signs shown to you on your journey.

Meet Jennifer Braidwood, Owner & Product Designer BRAID & WOOD Design Studio

“Modern indoor plant hangers for the houseplant lover”
@braidandwood

What inspired you to start BRAID & WOOD?
I just got to this point in my life where I really wanted to spend my time and energy working towards something of my very own. My husband and I had to sell our house and move into an apartment to make it happen [laughing emoji]. It was completely worth it and I would do it all again in a second.

What is BRAID & WOOD’s mission?
Our mission is to create products of exceptional quality while helping young women build careers in product design. I had some really amazing female mentors growing up and those relationships played a huge part in my professional growth. As I continue to build my brand and company a big part of BRAID & WOOD'S mission will be the mentorship of young women who are interested in product design, manufacturing, and business ownership.

Share some words of wisdom…
Owning your own brand and company means you spend a lot of time solving problems. Having a solution-oriented mindset has really served me. I'm constantly seeking out ways to make a process better, quicker, less expensive, or more efficient. I think it's important to continue to evolve in everything that you do and celebrate and embrace change.

Meet Cameron Hardesty, CEO and Founder of Poppy Flowers

“Flowers for the big day, or the every day”
@yourpoppyflowers

What inspired you to start Poppy Flowers?
When I started planning my own wedding I found out firsthand how expensive wedding flowers are. And as a floral-design hobbyist, I had taken several workshops over the years and heard dozens of florists say that they struggled to be profitable and manage the less creative aspects of their business. So I took on the florals for my own wedding and learned that I could combine my floral merchandising expertise with farm-direct sourcing and skilled freelance floral designers to save thousands on my flowers.

It was a lightbulb moment. I had faith that with the right combination of business model, technology, and team, I could replicate at scale the cost savings I enjoyed for couples across the country, while helping the nearly 100,000 floral designers and creatives in the U.S. earn a living.

What is Poppy’s mission?
To cultivate more beauty, creativity, and opportunity through flowers. I remember, at off-site training for a former job, I was asked to write down on a Post-it what about our agency’s mission got us up in the morning. The only word I could think to write was “beauty.” I worked in the drug policy office of The White House at the time, which was incredibly impactful and meaningful work, but wasn’t defined by beauty. I knew at that moment that it was time to do something else with my life.

On nights and weekends, I was learning floral design from the Chief Floral Designer at The White House at the time (Laura Dowling) and realized I wanted to go all-in on a life that prioritized beauty through flowers. Flowers satisfy a universal human desire to be connected to the earth. And their ephemeral nature reminds us to live in the moment. They are with us during life’s most joyful moments, and they comfort us during life’s most painful moments.

Florists within Poppy’s community have told me that the opportunities we’ve created for them have changed their lives. There’s no better feeling than getting a message like that. To create life-changing opportunities for our majority-woman workforce while increasing beauty in the world—that’s what motivates me.

Meet Vanessa Dawson, CEO and Founder of Arber

“The world’s first organic, non-toxic plant wellness company”
@growarber

What inspired you to start Arber?
I’ve loved spending time in the garden since I was young but work, life, travel, kids, and a general lack of time drew me away from that. During the pandemic, I turned back to gardening to de-stress. It reminded me how much I thrived when I spent time with my hands in the dirt. But I was shocked to discover that it was impossible to find safe and effective gardening products. I had spent years stocking my home with non-toxic food, beauty, cleaning, and wellness products... Why couldn’t I find the same standards for my plants? Thus, Arber was born! (With the support of a Ph.D. Entomologist & Biological scientist of course!)

What is Arber’s mission?
Arber’s brand mission is to “grow a better world”. From backyard veggie gardens to the Monstera in your bedroom, plants enrich our lives and the world around us. They give us clean air, nutrition, and a way to unplug. Even if it’s just a tiny succulent sitting on your windowsill, there are needless benefits to engaging with nature. We’ve spent years educating ourselves on organic food, beauty, and wellness products for human health. We’ve learned about the microbiome, immunity, disease prevention, and nutrition. It’s time our plants get that same health and wellness treatment. It’s our goal to make plant care safe, simple, and easy for all gardeners and all green spaces. With Arber, I want to help provide the tools, products, and education that any gardener needs to grow a better world.

Meet Kara Hill, Owner of Theory Beyond Design

“Plant care simplified through education on water propagation”
@theorybeyonddesign

What inspired you to start Theory Beyond Design?
Exploring and falling in love with plant propagation came first—but I’ve always been the maker type. When I wanted to move away from cups and jars for my cuttings, playing with new designs to hold glass test tubes came pretty naturally to me. Wanting to share how excited I was about water propagation merged with my desire for a side hustle so I looked for avenues to sell my designs.

What is Theory Beyond Design’s mission?
Most things in life can feel complicated and plant care is no exception. Like many, I love the thought of owning a huge houseplant collection. But that isn’t always feasible for most of us and that’s perfectly okay. Theory Beyond Design strives to simplify plant care by educating plant owners about water propagation and how you can still enjoy greenery around your home—with plants that are a little less maintenance.

Meet Anne Mills, Pediatric Occupational Therapist, New Mom, Owner of The Stitch Mill

“Cross stitch company focused on bringing new, modern designs to a new generation of stitchers”
@thestitchmill

What inspired you to The Stitch Mill?
I was inspired to start designing cross stitch patterns after not being able to find any designs I wanted to stitch myself! Everything I could find was very “cutesy” and dated, like angels and kittens.

What is The Stitch Mill’s mission?
I recently realized that so many people have become avid cross stitchers because of my cross stitch kits. I hear over and over how my kits have helped people relax, unplug and use their hands. My mission is to continue to inspire people to be makers and use their hands.

Share some words of wisdom…
My biggest piece of professional advice to anyone starting a creative business is to persist, and don’t feel bad that you have a full-time job doing something else. Most of us creative small business owners have a whole other career and that’s ok.

Meet Shannon Davenport, Founder of Esker Beauty

“Bath and body care that transforms your bathroom into an at-home spa—we promote taking time to take care of both our bodies and minds”
@eskerbeauty

What inspired you to start Esker?
In my previous career, taking baths was a source of escape and relaxation in the midst of a busy schedule. I always made time to soak and unwind. I found it crazy that most people were either too intimidated or felt like they didn't have enough time to take baths. Then, I became pregnant and invested in the skincare I was using on my body. I merged these two budding interests—working with all-natural formulas and making bathing rituals more accessible—to create Esker.

What is Esker’s mission?
We want to eliminate the misconception that being a Bath Person is only for people who have the luxury of time. Whether it's putting on a playlist and taking a relaxing shower or putting on Netflix and soaking in the tub for 2 hours, your bathroom can be easily transformed into a personal sanctuary. Everyone deserves to relax and take care of themselves with products they can trust.


Words By The Sill

Empowering all people to be plant people — a collection of articles from The Sill’s team of Plant Experts across a variety of plant care topics to inspire confidence in the next generation of plant parents. Welcome to Plant Parenthood™.