Bree Clarke just wanted to support a local plant shop. Specifically, one owned by a person of color. What she found instead was that in the entire city of Dallas, she says, there were zero plant shops owned by Black women. For Clarke, that needed to change. Her new shop, The Plant Project, located in Uptown, is the first Black-owned shop of its kind and has garnered attention and support on Twitter, with users urging others to shop at a minority-owned establishment.
There are other Black-owned plant shops in North Texas — Energy Gardens started before The Plant Project, though it's more of a pop-up and delivery-based. There's also New Growth Plants in Carrollton, though Clarke's is the only plant shop in Dallas that's Black-owned.
The online attention, which Clarke rarely takes notice of, took her by surprise. But the attention was welcomed and a testament that people of all backgrounds yearned for visibility, even in their plant shops.
It started early last year, at the start of the pandemic, when Clarke was featured on a segment with WFAA to talk about plants that could boost moods during difficult times. It was after that segment that she started to home in on her plant lifestyle.
On April 11, Clarke, who runs the lifestyle blog and business The Iman Project, posted a blog titled “Plant Parenthood” to reflect on how the care of plants helped with her own self-care. It also recounts her growing up helping her mother gardening and serves as a guide for first-time plant buyers. Months later, The Plant Project opened on Small Business Saturday with a line growing out the door.
Clarke believes that this representation of a Black woman-owned shop in Dallas is encouraging for people of all backgrounds and emphasizes the growing diversity in North Texas.
“Dallas is tired of seeing the same thing,” Clarke says. “We’re so much more diverse than we were a few years ago.”
Clarke also believes that this representation is long overdue. Plants are healing and their appeal is universal, regardless of race or gender. For Clarke, the seed was planted when she was a little girl. Although she was born in Houston, she has lived in Dallas for most of her life. Growing up, her neighbor (“the town drunk”) would visit and talk about plants, oils and seeds with a young Clarke attentively listening to his every word.
It speaks to Clarke’s mission to ensure diversity, whether in furniture collecting or gardening. Most of her customers are white women, but the attention The Plant Project received proves that there is a greater need for diversity in small businesses.
“You don’t see brown and Blacks behind the cash register,” Clarke says.
Systemically, that can be easier said than done, but that doesn’t stop Clarke from trying. She opened The Plant Project in seven days.
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