We love a good turnaround story and this one won’t disappoint, please meet Sanne of Ivy and the Wolf, a small independent plant business from London. Since lockdown Sanne has set up shop, or at least an incredibly fancy stockroom, in her house and is delivering plants on her bike around East London and next day to the rest of UK – BRB just going to place and order! We love a bit of plant action at Tatty Devine, having held our SS20 Bloom Boom collection launch party at our own local terrarium shop Four Store. We took 5 with Sanne to discover her journey to surrounding herself with plants, her top pick from Creature Comforts and her number one top tip on how not to kill your house plants. Listen up!
How did you take Ivy and Wolf from a seed of an idea to the beauty of a business we see before us?
I had worked as a store manager for various high street clothing companies for over 10 years, but I knew it wasn’t my dream. So I started Ivy and the Wolf as a fun side project to help me not think about “work”. Initially, I was doing it as a hobby, sourcing rare and unusual plants, and making terrariums and mounted plants.
I enjoyed doing this so much that I decided to resign from my full-time job, and commit fully to selling things I actually liked. During my two-month notice period, I prepared everything for the start of my company and invested all of my money in stock.
I hit a huge bump in the road when the first event I was going to be selling my products at - which was supposed to be my big kick-off event - was cancelled two days before it was due to start, due to Covid-19.
Everything I had prepared for in the last four months suddenly came crashing down! All of the other markets I was supposed to participate in also got cancelled, and all the cafes I was going to collaborate with were closing, so I had to make a 360-switch and re-arrange everything.
With no money to pay my upcoming rent, I took the plunge, put all of my products online and hoped for the best! Fortunately everything has worked out really well - I sold all of my initial supply and have had to restock to keep up with demand!
What drew you to working with nature?
I grew up in the Netherlands in a small town called Hengelo, and I spent a lot of time in my parents and grandparents’ gardens. As a family, we’d often go out for walks in nature, and I’d also go to a nearby nature park with my friends to skate or swim in the lake.
After moving to London five years ago, I really missed being surrounded by greenery and nature. It’s one of the reasons why I love my walks in the park with Wolf, my dog. So, because there isn't much green outside in the city, I just brought it all inside and started filling my house with plants!
How is buying and selling plants in Lockdown?
It has been going surprisingly well! I feel very blessed to have been able to start and run a small business in a time like this.
I think, because they’re spending more time inside their houses and are not able to go to a park, people are missing the greenery. People are realising how much energy and soul a few plants can bring into a room, so they’re wanting that inside their house. Luckily I’m still able to get amazing plants from growers in the Netherlands and Belgium, so I can make people happy and entertained in their homes - during lockdown and after!
What's on your lockdown playlist? What music or podcasts do you play to see you through the day?
I love a good true-crime podcast (“Sword and Scale” and “Generation Why” are my favourites), so those have been playing on a daily basis!
My top artists at the moment are:
- Post Malone
- Miraa May
- Ludovico Einaudi
- Miraa May
- Ludovico Einaudi
For someone who’s a serial plant killer and wants minimal effort required, which 3 plants in your store would you recommend? (asking for a friend)
Sansevierias, Devil's Ivy and the Monsteras are amazing plants that are incredibly hard to kill, in case you neglect them! Also, get a Moisture meter - that has been a game-changer for me personally. You will never overwater or kill a plant again with that tool.
Any inspiring women we should be following?
In a time like this, I’m inspired by small independent businesses run by women that are doing an amazing job: @lamouchebakes and @portiabakesvegan for the most tasty, beautiful and fully vegan cakes. For art and prints I absolutely love @thelisabelle, @lolablackheart and @alexmayhughes.
Lastly for some house and (plant) interior inspiration I love following @trixdenbreuls, @happybohemianhome and @plantastic_mr_fox.
Talk us through which creature comforts you've turned to at this unsettling time.
Cuddling Wolf and my partner on our large sofa whilst watching Netflix is honestly such a wholesome feeling and I could do it all day.
However, since we’re both working from home, and working together a lot to pack up orders, we also make sure to take a lot of time to be by ourselves.
Josh makes music, and I love re-arranging our interior decorations. I always have a DIY project on the go, whether it’s painting something a different colour, or hanging up a shelf somewhere - I love changing things in the house!
Saturday mornings are my favourite at the moment, as the new episode of Rupaul’s Drag Race' is on!
Which is your pick from our Creature Comforts collection?
The Watering Can Necklace is absolutely my favourite. Taking the time to water all my plants (which is a lot, counting the store and my personal collection) is for me a moment of peace and self-care.
The Swirly Snail Brooch and Necklace remind me of the ones we have in our garden. Some people hate them, but I think they're really interesting animals. Did you know they eat dead plant debris and their faeces actually contain important nutrients for plants?
Lastly I LOVE the Goldfish Earrings. I used to sell a plant called “Nematanthus - Goldfish Plant”. The plant had bright orange flowers that looked like actual goldfish! It is a plant I had never seen before, and since then have not been able to find them again. They aren't rare, but just really old fashioned - three separate customers bought it for their grandparents, and said they’d never found this plant before.
What's the most unusual or rare plant you've ever sold?
Good question! I think the plants I had the most hard time parting with were the Philodendron Xanadu Neon and the Monstera Thai Constellation. I am most proud of the collection of plants I have in stock now. Caladiums are not easy to find, and I have very large variegated Monsteras in stock that are almost impossible to get your hands on - especially as the small online shop that I am!
If you were a plant, what would you be?
Definitely a Caladium. Bright, bold, brings joy and stands out in a crowd.