Good day plant folks!
Today's post will be slightly personal and I will be writing about our journey starting Littlebotany. This is going to be a really long post and I have divided it into chapters. It might also be a little boring so if you did not enjoy reading this chapter, then at least you won't have to waste any more of your time reading the others. Trigger warning, there might be some mentions of mental health issues. If you are sensitive to this, you may wish to not proceed with reading it.
Chapter 1 - How it all started
I chose the name Littlebotany because botany literally means the study of plants. Since I am not a horticulturist or trained in that field, I chose the word Little to along with Botany. I wanted to learn about plants little by little, at my own pace. Little studies of plant = Littlebotany. That is how the account name came about. Actually, the account Littlebotany on Instagram used to be called FishyFendi. If you scrolled down through my hundreds of plant posts, you might find some fish and possibly cat content. In a nutshell, I wanted to be that 'cool' kid who had separate accounts for my various 'cool' content.
First FishyFendi post, 11th Dec 2012.
It all started with a Sansevieria (or Dracaena for some aliens) whale fin that grew out several pups so I decided to sell them off Instagram and Carousell. The feedback was great so I started getting more plants and cuttings for sale. I also sold lots of variegated string of pearls (possibly all dead since they are so freaking hard to keep here) and Selaginella willdenowii. Thank you to those customers who stuck by me since then even though these two were the worst to keep for newcomers! If you are one of them, I truly apologise.
First Littlebotany post, 23rd Jan 2018
I wanted to find more unique and uncommon plants to share with the plant community. It is still a hobby but I've always dreamt of owning a tiny plant shop. So I thought why not travel somewhere, explore and find plants. At that time, I was still working as a flight attendant, I tapped on the staff travel benefits and off I went exploring. It was nerve wrecking to travel somewhere new. I basically took a leap of faith and it was so exciting having this slight possibility that my plant hobby could turn out into a business. Sounds easy right?
Chapter 2 -ยินดีต้อนรับสู่ประเทศไทย
Yin di ton rap su phrathetthai
Welcome to Thailand!
Pin and Tae. Without these two beautiful souls, I can never imagine going through Bangkok markets and the farms alone. I am super grateful to them and their families. I am super indebted to them for life. They showed so much love and fully supported my dream. As much as it's a beautiful country, not knowing the native language was super challenging. I might look Thai but once my mouth opens, the facade's gone. I tried learning basic Thai along the way but when they start speaking all out in Thai, I will simply just stand there like an idiot nodding my head away. So I started picking up words and sentences like, "how much is this" and what's 100 to 1000 baht in Thai. I already sucked in math so I was worse in Thai of course.
Ted @Teeradejmf and Pin @ovotherapy, 4th April 2019
I started my business by going around Chatuchak plant market. It was amazing seeing all the beautiful plants but lugging all the plants with me was a torture. It was like gardens by the bay, only hotter. The heat was intense every time I visited and I was constantly walking drenched in sweat. Literally watering the plants along the way. Imagine carrying about 50kg or more worth of plants around the market. The entire market was probably 5-6 km. Oh and I go about 4 rounds. Some days, I would sit on the floor in a corner in the verge of a breakdown. I started questioning myself at this point if this is really worth it. I did this almost every 2 weeks. I flew into Bangkok up to 4 times a month, sometimes even arriving in and departing on the same day. Thinking back about it, that was just insane but I just had to do it. I needed to achieve this little dream of mine.
Chatuchak plant market entrance, July 2019
Chatuchak, Carried all these by myself.
I had to do something about my crazy gym workout at Chatuchak. I know I needed to ask for help. I was so anxious and super shy to ask the trolley guys for help. I struggle with this weird anxiety when asking for help especially in places like restaurants and with service staff. So I would walk back and forth until I've mustered up enough courage to speak to them. Sometimes it can take almost to an hour or more. I eventually managed to get one of them to help me in the market. He told me his name was Boy. Pretty sure he knows I will butcher his real name. He became my designated go-to person for trolleying around my plants since then. I was so blessed to have him. He even became my official translator for my market journey. The sad thing is, I have lost all contact with him during the pandemic. He simply disappeared. I do think of him from time to time. I hope that he and his family are safe. I really do...
My first big order with my friend, Boy. 23rd July 2019
Me bare-rooting, packing and prepping everything on my own. 2019
Last time at Chatuchak market with Karen @Littlebiggarden, 3rd March 2020
The smiles right before the pandemic. 3rd March 2020
I was still selling my plants from home from July 2019 and pop up stores around Singapore. We participated on a pop-ups for Social Innovation Park, Institute of Mental Health, Singapore Gardens Festival and Gardener's Day Out. I was really happy and honoured to be amongst my plant idols and the people whom I really look up to. We spoke and exchanged contacts. Most were super nice, some treated us as if we were invisible. I also had a really bad experience with one of the sellers whom I really looked up to but I shall not elaborate on that. The overall vibe for SGF and GDO was just amazing. I wish I can re-live these pre-covid moments. Just being involved with something so big within the community was one of the highlights of my life. Thank you to those customers who were super supportive and gave me the confidence to actually start a physical space for Littlebotany. Super grateful to Ash and Lut for volunteering to help me out at my pop-up booths.
@Lut.the.dude, Gardeners Day Out, 18 Jan 2020
@Maltlea @makchiquekauhijau, @plants.eat.sleep.repeat @Plantoids.ong, @Gardencityplantgirl, Singapore's Garden Festival, 2 Nov 2019
@Lut.the.dude, Eco-festival, Institute of Mental Health. 18 Sept 2019
@Alphabeticalife, @Black.old.sun, @Lut.the.dude. @Alilbitofgreen, @Fsj.green, @Maltlea, @Plants.eat.sleep.repeat. Pop-up at Social Innovation Park.
In October we found a physical space for Littlebotany. Oh boy, let's just say, nothing turned out the way I wanted it to be.
Dream turned to nightmare...
To be continued..