Editor’s note: Plantrunz is a plant-delivery service that does weekly drop-offs and deliveries in and around the Greater Toronto area. The owners, Tim Mercurio and Carla Felix also have a home decor based business, Kwarto Home. I initially connected with them through Kaibigan Connection – a for-profit social enterprise I co-founded in 2019. Our mission is to connect Filipino entrepreneurs, professionals and youth within the Greater Toronto Area.
How did you come up with the idea for plantrunz?
We are avid plant lovers and are part of a number of Toronto plant enthusiast groups on Facebook. We quickly found, through posts and comments, people requesting to pick up plants from “hard to get to” plant nurseries around the Greater Toronto Area that we often frequent. Many members did not have access to a vehicle but wanted access to rarer plant varieties that only these nurseries could offer yet don’t provide delivery or shipping. So we decided to fill that void.
What was it like when you first started, did you encounter any obstacles along the way and how did you overcome them?
It definitely wasn’t a sustainable business in the beginning since we launched at the end of gardening season. There weren’t as many people in the same frame of mind they’re in now.
What is your favourite type of plant and why?
Tim: My current favourite plant is the Alocasia Baginda “Silver Dragon.” It’s my favourite because it’s not too common in nurseries and I really enjoy the large foliage with its dragon-like design.
Carla: I’m into Dischidias right now because not too much is known about them and I love that kind of mystery!
What are the most popular plants that are requested?
This is constantly changing because there are just so many plant varieties. Although, the Monstera Deliciosa and Satin Pothos are right up there. We have also seen rarer varieties of Hoyas that seem to be trending.
What are some benefits of having plants in the home, especially during this time?
Having plants in the home has been proven to reduce indoor air pollution as well as improve mental health by lowering anxiety and having something to nurture in this tech-driven world.
What are some best practices for taking care of plants in general?
Water regularly, but do not overwater. Overwatering a plant is the number one reason why people kill their plants.
Give your plant access to adequate sunlight. This is how they grow. Remember photosynthesis?
Do your research for each type of plant as they all have different care needs. There are countless resources for this info online.
For every delivery, plantrunz delivers a care package from your other business, kwarto home to a frontline or essential worker. How does this work and what can be found in these care packages?
That is correct. Every plant delivery that is ordered by a customer, we create a plant care package for a front liner that is nominated by you, our followers. From the handwritten card to hand delivering it personally to their door, we take great care and put a lot of thought into what goes in these little packages of joy. These care packages contain a small plant, an edible treat and a variety of self-care items.
Can care packages be customized?
Yes they can be customized upon request.
What do you enjoy the most about owning a business?
We really enjoy putting our ideas into action without waiting for approval from someone who might not share the same values as we do.
Who are some entrepreneurs that you admire and why?
Tim: I admire Seth Tibbott. He is the founder of Tofurky and is one of the pioneers of plant-based proteins. He has stayed grounded throughout his success. When no one believed that plant-based proteins would be a thing, he remained true with his vision and stayed consistent.
Carla: I really admire Lisa, the founder of The Goods in Toronto. She’s such a humble and inclusive person. She is constantly giving back to the community and believes that whole foods heal.
What advice would you give to people who are trying to launch their business or re-launch their business during these unprecedented times?
Do what you feel in your heart is right. Show empathy and compassion through your business actions. If you put profits over people, your customers will see right through that. Also, be versatile and be open to pivoting your business models in order to accommodate your customer’s needs.