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Meet Jessica Schutz of Green Lady Gardens in Art District on Santa Fe

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jessica Schutz.

Jessica, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
Green Lady Gardens was born out of necessity & an inability to sit still. But mostly, it was born from the Great Recession. I was in Mongolia on a Fulbright Fellowship working with a nonprofit on a community-based tourism center alongside the Tsaatan, Mongolian’s nomadic reindeer herders. My dream was to do international community development & environmental affairs work.

When I returned from Mongolia with a rescued street dog in tow, the Great Recession was in full swing. DC was one of the few places with jobs so I blindly moved there to begin my epic career.

After months of searching in a terrible economy, I was only able to get an administrative position. For the next three years, I worked admin, flirted with law school, moved to Chile for six months, did conservation work in Guatemala, received a Master’s Degree, and published my research. I then moved to Denver so I could truly start my epic career. I felt like I had a pretty stellar resume.

Colorado’s economy is great but that doesn’t mean the greatness is evenly distributed. Everything I had achieved & done was overridden by my only “professional” experience in admin, which was purely a tragic result of the Great Recession. After months of heartbreaking rejection & an inability to wait for someone to think I was good enough, I began Green Lady Gardens as a floriculture art & design company. I focused on no-water moss walls made out of preserved, dried, dyed, & hand-painted plant materials. I sold at farmer’s markets, art shows, & did a few large installation pieces, including for a hotel in CA.

About 14 months ago my husband began his own business, so I put GLG on hold & looked for a steady paycheck. Again, I was judged solely on my admin experience and became an overqualified assistant at a law firm. But I kept GLG close & spent every weekend slinging plants at farmer’s markets & fairs. I had lots of ideas for my business & one was a houseplant store. Specifically, a Latin American themed one because of my love for colors. My husband & I figured we could swing it in a year or two, which was a depressingly long timeline.

I don’t believe in fate, the universe, destiny, God, predetermined paths, or any of those things. But one morning while driving to work down Santa Fe Dr. in the Art District I saw a “For Lease” sign on the perfect building. I called, got a tour, & signed a lease a week later. GLG opened on September 15th, 2018. It has been nothing but the most successful & fulfilling experiment of my life.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Besides having to put my business on hold for about six months in 2018, it has been smooth. But even that brief hiatus was used to regroup GLG & plan out the next step. I’ve always had the endless support of my amazing husband, which has really been the foundation of my success. He has rationally questioned but never unreasonably doubted me. As my business grows, I know there will be hurdles to overcome but they won’t be unexpected & I’m ready to slay them.

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Green Lady Gardens story. Tell us more about the business.
What GLG specializes in is also what sets us apart:
1. Expert houseplant education both pre & post purchase: Many people fail at houseplants because they are not set up for success. I created a unique system of matching people to plants so they aren’t getting in over their head. Plants are rated by the amount of weekly attention they need & there is a card nearby so customers can read about light, water, humidity, & other needs. Then nearly every purchase comes with a detailed care card for continued success. I can also answer almost any question & am able to guide people to appropriate plants with a few preliminary questions.

2. Affordable & unique pottery.

3. A colorful, lively, & inspiring environment that creates a unique experience not found elsewhere in Denver.

What quality or characteristic do you feel is most important to your success?
I believe I have two characteristics, one that has set me up for success & one that is contributing to ongoing success. The characteristic that has set me up for success  is that I understand the importance of creating a unique experience that evokes an emotion. Not only does my shop do that from a visual perspective because of the colors & atmosphere, but the educational experience one gets in my shop creates a feeling of plant parenthood confidence & enthusiasm. The characteristic of my ongoing success is an uncanny ability to adapt to change & course correct quickly. I’m attuned to what & what is not working.

If ideas don’t work, I have to let them go, understand why they didn’t work, & figure out how to make my product or service better. Though I have concepts I love, I know I can’t be married to them, which can be difficult but it’s key to success.

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Getting in touch: VoyageDenver is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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