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From bonding moments to growing a 'green' business

Karen Argos and family is now nurturing the Greenhouse Project, a business born out of their love for gardening.
By Elyssa Christine Lopez |

 

GREEN LOVE. The corporate exec turned green entrepreneur takes pride in being one of the first businesses to venture into indoor gardening. Photo by Elyssa Lopez  / Entrepreneur Philippines

 

The surge of towering condominiums across the metro has made urban dwellers yearn for some greeneries, may it be in form of parks in the city or indoor gardens within limited spaces.

 

Karen Argos, a mother of two, feels the same. So she started gardening in her small backyard for fun, and as a form of bonding with her eldest daughter. What was quality time with her loved ones soon became a source of inspiration and income, and that became the Greenhouse Project.

 

Three years ago, Argos just quit her job from a big mobile company abroad to spend more time with her kids. “They were growing up so fast and I wanted to take care of them more,” Argos told Entrepreneur.com.ph.  She may have lost huge income, but her family is her priority.

 

One afternoon, she found herself bonding with her daughter over plants, designing small pots of charming greens and dish gardens. It was in 2013, Christmas was fast coming.

 

“We started to make pots for our friends and relatives and sold them starting at P150 ($3.18),” Argos shared. The ex-corporate officer explained how these plants was refreshing to her circle as quality and inexpensive gift choices. “When people see it, they say, wow, plants!” she shared.

 

 

Growing the business

Soon, Argos and her husband decided to take the business to another level and formally registered the business, and by early 2014, they were receiving online orders.

 

With only P10,000 ($212.06) as capital, Argos was able to flourish the company to a pioneer in indoor gardening in the community, proudly saying she was one of the few who first ventured into it.

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To date, Greenhouse Project has seven distribution channels, including Rustan’s Flower Shop in Makati and Rockwell with products ranging from succulents, cacti, hydroponics, dish gardens, and air plants.

 

“During our first bazaar, Rustan’s invited us to make plants for them. We were hesitant at first because of the large demand it would entail. I didn’t know if we could do it, but thankfully, we pushed through,” Argos shared. “Now we deliver to them almost every week.”

 

Social media was also one of their partners to expand their audiences, with Argos convinced by its power. “We have much competition now, so we also have to be aggressive. If we become complacent, we’ll be left behind. Daily updates are important,” Argos said.

 

But the grass was not always green at their side of the fence, as they had their own share of troubles. In 2014, Argos and her husband were the only two members of the team, doing the deliveries, designing plants, and grilling pots, with merely sleeping two hours a day.

 

“It was so tiring, we didn’t expect it to be that overwhelming,” Argos recalled with a smile. “But a good thing about this, my family was supportive. My father-in-law, sometimes deliver orders too. My brother also helped with our online advertisements, he did our graphics [for social media].”

 

Fortunately, they were able to expand their workforce as they hired more members for their team. During the ber months, the company joins bazaars almost every weekend in different parts of the metro, sometimes in two locations at once.     

 

 

Coping with growth

But more bazaars meant bigger market, and as they receive more orders, Argos prepares herself for the deluge of work, but always manages to smile through.

 

“There’s a perception that when you own a business, you live a lavish life. But no, this is hard work,” Argos shared. “Unlike when you’re an employee— do extra work and you’ll be compensated for it. It’s the same in business, you have to work double to reap bigger rewards. It’s how you handle the ball.”

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The former corporate senior-level employee, now full-time green thumb entrepreneur also recalled on how different her lifestyle has become, especially after doing  9 to 5 work for almost a decade. 

 

“I may be tired today but just getting enough sleep can make me okay,” Argos explained. “When you find your passion, you do anything to succeed.”

 

 

*****

Elyssa Christine Lopez is entrepreneur.com.ph's editorial assistant/writer. Follow her on Twitter@elyssalopz.  

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