Our next feature in our #smallbusinessSHEs is Kimberly Daft, owner of Lawrence & Clarke Cacti Co.! Kimberly recently opened Lawrence & Clarke Cacti Co. with her best friend and partner Jennifer Wenberg, and specializes in minimal-needs houseplants, interior design, and hand-made pots and hangers.
Name: Kimberly Daft
Company: Lawrence & Clarke Cacti Co.
SHEroines: My doctor Leah Cordovez for always fighting for herself and her patients; my daughter who asked me at 4 years old to be her mom since she had “the hottest daddy ever”–you have inspired me and as you’ve grown into the amazing young woman that you are you’ve helped me evolve into the woman I am today. You’re my best friend always.
Tell us about your business: who are you, when did you start, what do you do?
I started my business as a small pop up at farmers’ markets in September of this year (2017), not anticipating much honestly. It was late in the season to be joining the market but I was eager to get started and showed up at the Donelson Farmers’ Market with air plants, cacti and succulents in tow. We also brought hand-made macrame hangers and pottery as well as variety of terrariums and displays. We’re passionate about plants so it’s not just the products we bring, its also the knowledge that we share with our customers about how to take care of their plants properly. We also make sure to bring plants healthy and ready to thrive with minimal maintenance requirements. We love what we do and that shows when we’re there! Within two weeks we were fielding inquiries for interior decorating work and a month later we started styling the Hotel Preston. It’s snowballed from there and now we’re opening a brick-and-mortar store in Old Hickory to offer even more products and an environment for customers to come in and shop or build their own terrariums.
What was your path to owning your own small business?
I always wanted my own business from an early age. I had dreamed of owning a small boutique in an old building growing up. As I got older I worked in a variety of careers from healthcare to insurance. I found myself paying the bills but not feeling fulfilled, especially as my health issues evolved into crisis after crisis. I was forced to face the realization that I don’t really know how much time I have with my family. I don’t really know how much time I have in this life, and while it’s not the most pleasant thing to talk about, facing your own mortality can be incredibly liberating when you realize that you have to choose to live. You have to take that chance and put yourself out there and say, “if I have five years left, how do I want to spend these next five years? Do I want to spend it hunched over a computer toiling away at a career that has never interested me or do I step out there and let the world see my light? Do I stand up and say, “I am a crazy plant lady and I am proud to be a crazy plant lady!?”? You have to do it. You have to live your life in the truest colors, with brutal honesty, because you only get one trip and I want it to be filled with memories and laughter and not another moment of regret. I am living my dream and I have never felt more fulfilled or complete in my life.
What about being a small business owner brings you the most joy?
Total creative flexibility! My mind is like a faucet and getting to turn that on, just letting it flow and seeing all that I can create and being able to apply it in so many different ways–that’s the best part. I love the creative freedom, and I love sharing it with others and seeing their appreciation. I am deeply grateful every day, for every opportunity I am given, including this one.
What’s the most difficult part of being a small business owner?
Organization and financial management. I am inherently a free spirit but it is required that I be diligently organized to manage my business effectively and responsibly. I am working on it every day, it is an absolute. I can not stand up and say that I am an empowered business SHE moving things forward in the world and then expect to be able to fall on cushy pillow of “oh, I’m young and just a girl and didn’t realize” when I make mistakes and things go wrong. I am going to make mistakes, and things will at times go wrong, but I have to prepare for it and I have to answer for it when it does. It’s a double standard that I have to rise above and live above every day.
What’s the most exciting thing happening at your company or in your industry?
Definitely our brick-and-mortar store in Old Hickory. We’re setting up shop in an historic building with amazing 15 ft tin ceilings right on Old Hickory Blvd. We’re building the business that we wanted to shop in Nashville but couldn’t find locally. We’ve set up a magical kids’ corner for the littles to explore and play while mom and dad learn about their new found treasures or shop the big open space. We’re offering a wide array of cactus and air plants as well as hard to find house plants in a variety of pots, from affordably-priced vintage to hand-crafted clay pots and hangers. We’re also going to have large removable tables so the space can be used for pop-up yoga classes and occasionally host parties and events as well. We love seeing plants layered into fashion, decor, and to see the enthusiasm as green thumbing becomes cool again. This shit is awesome, it’s therapeutic and beautiful all at once, and plants clean the air and most require such minimal care. It’s a great time to be getting into the business and we’re loving every minute of it.
What has motivated you the most in your small business journey?
Having my best friend by my side, Jennifer Wenberg. She is the “Clarke” of Lawrence & Clarke and I wouldn’t be here now if it wasn’t for her. She has the most distinctive taste and helps to keep me focused when I start going off the rails and spreading myself too thin. She sees the vision and believes in me at all times, through all things. She’ll be working with me at the shop and I could not be happier to have her as a partner in this venture. She has the most sincere heart and is far more talented than she ever gives herself credit for–she’s the glue that keeps me pulled together. Love love love her!
If you could go back to just before you launched your business and offer yourself sixty seconds of advice, what would you say?
Enjoy your weekends now, you’ll never sit on the couch for another weekend-long Netflix marathon! That’s okay though, totally worth it!
What are you looking forward to the most in your personal or professional future?
Waking up every day a better version of myself, living my dream day in and day out, and then rewarding my family and myself with some well earned vacations.
Don’t forget to follow Lawrence & Clarke Cacti Co. on Facebook and stop by their new location once it’s up and running!