Local Indigenous-owned business encourages respect and care for plants
"Humans, plants, and animals are all inhabited by a spirit and we're all alive in the same way," says Jessica McClure
by Eleni Kopsaftis
If you're a new student, you've probably settled into your new Guelph home by now. Your furniture is organized the way you want it, and you've gotten into a consistent routine. Odds are though, your space might be looking a bit bland.
There are lots of local shops and virtual stores to find decorative items, but since we're coming up on Orange Shirt Day and the National Day of Truth and Reconciliation, why not support a local Indigenous-owned business?
Jessica McClure is of mixed and Indigenous descent, and she's the sole owner and operator of cultivate.guelph. There, McClure sells houseplants grown out of her own two-bedroom apartment.
"Born of a desire to bring more begonias and snake plants to the market, cultivate.guelph has since expanded to offer gift and home decor items," reads McClure's website. Her goal is to offer high quality plants and gift items alongside outstanding customer service.
Cultivate.guelph has been in operation since the spring of 2020, but the addition of household decorations was a recent one. McClure hopes to eventually expand her stock to include various gift and self-care items. The focus of the business remains on plantlife, though.
"As a kid, I can remember my mom instilling a sense of respect and wonder in me when it came to my interactions with nature, even if that took the form of a potted plant in our living room," McClure told The Ontarion.
"I was enrolled in Anishinaabemowin (Ojibway language) courses in elementary school. One of the fundamental lessons you're taught is that humans, plants, and animals are all inhabited by a spirit and we're all alive in the same way. I think that this gave me a good foundation to work with plants even though I don't have any formal schooling in that area."
McClure graduated from the University of Guelph in 2012 with a degree in psychology and initially worked in that field, but she explains that her disability imposed limitations.
"I have fibromyalgia and as a result, I really struggle to work for someone else on their schedule ... Cultivate.guelph allows me to do work that is fulfilling to me and kind to my body all while working on my own schedule."
In addition to personal struggles, owners of small businesses also faced challenges because of COVID-19 and its restrictions on their stores.
But rather than being setback by the pandemic, the houseplant industry boomed since people were spending so much time indoors and choosing to bring nature inside. McClure recalls having trouble keeping plants in stock because they were being purchased so quickly.
For McClure though, it's not just about the profits.
"I care so much about the plants that I grow that I'm constantly researching them and how to best care for them," she said.
"Some people who sell plants care about selling you a plant and that's where it ends. I genuinely care about these plants' long-term health and am invested in seeing them do well in your home. I make myself available to chat about plant care whenever you need it and am grateful to be a part of your plant journey."
Cultivate.guelph is primarily operated online, and purchased items are available for contactless pickup in downtown Guelph. Delivery is also available throughout southern Ontario, and the Plantrunz delivery service also helps ship items across the province.