During the uncertainty of 2020, a unique partnership bloomed at BROC. Botania founders, Andrew Coe and Andrea Berry, longtime friends of Chris and Bridget, started selling plants at The Broc Door. When everything was out of the ordinary, it seemed natural at the time -- why not bring a little extra joy home with you along with your wine. Botania had launched about 3 months prior and the partnership offered a unique retail experience for them to sell home plants to wine lovers. Andrew, a longtime horticulturist and plant lover, embraced the idea of bringing new plant owners into the fold. Ask any question you want, he’ll help you pick the plant perfect for your space but also give advice on how to keep it alive and thriving. Much like with BROC wine, it’s the experience that’s different. You don’t just leave with a bottle or a plant, you’re now part of the family. Today, Botania has expanded and are helping restaurants and businesses in addition to individuals create a beautiful botanical garden in their spaces.
We sat down with Andrew and Andrea to ask them about Botania Club and the positive effect of plants on humans.
What is Botania Club?
Andrea: Botania is our company that specializes in design and installations, bringing spaces to life while Botania Club is the direct to consumer community element. Once you buy a plant from Botania, you become a part of our club and we are available as a resource for all your plant questions. Our goal is to build confidence with plants and sustainability in the world.
Where does your love of plants come from?
Andrew: Plants have always been a big part of my life. I grew up always loving plants, mowing my baseball field in the backyard. I grew up in Valley Forge, PA where there were always plants around.
Andrea: Andrew! I had the worst black thumb and years ago when I would buy plants, I just expected them to die. Andrew started teaching me how to care for them and now after exposure and learning, I’m confident that I can nurture plants to thrive. Once that confidence was established, I began to appreciate how plants are so important in our lives and crucial in the spaces we spend time in.
What is special about Botania Club?
Andrew: The typical buying experience with plants is that you buy one at a big box store or even a smaller nursery and you bring it home and you’re kind of on your own. You’re lucky if you even get advice or guidance as to what plant is best for your environment and lifestyle. It can be overwhelming and this can deter people from buying plants in the first place. We want people to take home that plant with confidence and excitement. We want to fill the gap for people -- help set them up for success. That’s our biggest focus, not leaving our customers hanging.
Andrea: With Botania Club, that is our approach. There are no stupid questions, learning about plants and enjoying them with pride is that Botania Club community element.
You’re longtime friends with Chris and Bridget, how did you get the idea to sell plants in the tasting room?
Andrea: Yes, we’re lucky to call them friends. We have always been fans of Broc Cellars and have admired the culture they’ve established. Bridget is such an innovator and has incredible vision. She’s done so much to help Chris transform the winery, we look up to her and she’s been an incredible mentor to both of us personally and professionally. So when everything got turned upside down last year, I was very curious to hear about how BROC was handling the pandemic. Bridget said it was tough because mostly club members were only coming in and we started to discuss how to inspire others to come in, and still feel safe. From there it really evolved organically, we began to decorate the indoor space to bring it to life and would place a few plants outside to make it more inviting. It was a huge success and from there Bridget really was a catalyst suggesting we push it further and start to sell the plants.
Andrew: It sounded great because I was already working in a commercial and wholesale environment and we really wanted that direct to consumer element. It felt organic and helped us create a sales channel through our select sellers. Our typical clients engage with us as designers, so this was a special way to engage with the general public and embrace the community elements we are passionate about.
Your website mentions “biophilia”, the science behind why plants make us happy. Can you explain it to us?
Andrew: Biophilia is the love of life or living systems. These living systems are healing to our bodies. The forest atmosphere consistently lowers stress hormones, cortisol, and adrenaline. The forest air is filled with anticancer terpenes with anti-carcinogenic and immune-strengthening effects. Just one day in the forest inhaling these terpenes increases the number of our natural killer cells in the blood by almost 40 percent consistently. Plants truly do make us healthier and happier in so many ways. Our goal at Botania is to bring nature to our customers and club members.
Andrea: Biophilia is the science behind why plants make us happy. Our subconscious brains are able to identify whether plants are real or not, and we are stimulated by real plants, especially when they are in our home. Many studies have shown the increase of productivity and happiness when plants are around. There are even studies that show how plants can help increase sales in retail spaces!
How are Botania and BROC similar?
Andrew: We are both taking an old trade and creating a more modern spin on it. Making our own version of it, prioritizing organic lifestyles and creating this very different unique product. We aren’t trying to disrupt a space, we are trying to offer our spin, our own expertise and our own take on it.
Andrea: I admire Chris and Bridget and everything they have accomplished, this is such a flattering question! I aspire to be like them, tactical in business but growing something creative and real to create our own path forward. I see Andrew as a craftsman like Chris for sure, very dedicated to their expertise and their very high standards to the product. As I said before, I admire Bridget and she’s been an incredible mentor to me, so I hope to be like her!
New logo designed by fellow Broc collaborator Marta Elise Johansen.
How do you decide what plants to sell at Broc and when to refresh the selection?
Andrew: There are seasonal considerations, not just with the plants but the environment - like the amount of light and temperature in the space depending on the time of year. A retail space looks great with more permanent elements that are creative with a mix of off the shelf take and go plants. We like to have plants for the novice to someone more advanced. We try to have a healthy blend of everything on the spectrum.
Andrea: We also like to have unique items that may not be as prevalent in local Bay Area nurseries but will still do well in the environment. Everything is hand selected and curated; we pay attention to the health of the plant to ensure that it will live a long life in its future home!
What’s your number one piece of advice for someone who is just starting to bring plants into their living space? What plant(s) would you recommend?
Andrew: Knowing your environment, like the light and your lifestyle. While there are endless options for plants, understanding the light and the care you are willing to provide is the first thing to think about. We are always here to make recommendations, but my biggest tip that I like to share is that plants do not have a set schedule. I often hear that you should water every 7 days but it is dependent on its environment. How hot it was that week, how much air was flowing through to potentially dry out the plant, things like this. It’s important to get to know your plant and look for the signs for when it needs watering and care.
Andrea: The most common mistake we see is overwatering. It’s better to almost underwater your plant than over water it as you can almost always save an under-watered plant… but not so much for something that's been overwatered.
What’s next for Botania?
Andrew: Continue to build the community and make it approachable for everyone to have their own home garden indoors or in any space they spend time in.
Andrea: Our immediate goal is to expand the team to be more connected and available with our clients. Long term, we’d like to become a digital magazine with a focus on video learning and entertainment content, which is my background. This vision speaks to our mission, creating a larger impact with learning and building confidence.
What is your favorite Broc Cellars wine?
Andrea: Got Grapes, especially a little chilled.
Andrew: Kou Kou!
Andrew and Botania mascot, Pam.