Written by: Madison Duboise
Growth is not the first word that comes to mind after a person loses their job, but for one woman it was, plant growth that is.
Over a year ago when Ryann Bradford lost her job of six years just after she and her wife had a baby, she was left scrambling to keep things together. Then she tore her Achilles. She left hopeless and helpless, then an idea came.
“Being jobless and unable to walk I would often lay in bed thinking of ways I could start a business and exit the corporate world for good,” Bradford said. “During that time my obsession with indoor gardening grew. I would find myself up late reading and studying plant behavior and propagating everything I already owned multiplying my collection I currently owned.”
One night after watching the documentary series Trigger Warning by Killer Mike that discussed social issues that impact the black community and how far the black dollar circulates.
“This was my inspiration to pull the trigger and finally start my own business. I didn’t know of any black owned plant shops in the Atlanta area at the time so it inspired me to actually be one of the first,” Bradford said.
Then Bradford Botanical & CO was born. The plant boutique first started as a pop-up shop then a garage sale and eventually an at home business.
“After becoming a member of the trade and understating my business model I had a vision to host a pop-up at a space that was already established. After setting up a few meetings and getting the runaround from other business owners I decided to have my first shipment delivered to my home in hopes that I could find the right venue in time to actually start selling,” Bradford said. “Well when the first shipment came in a few of my neighbors saw me unloading plants and they immediately wanted to buy. At that point I knew I could probably just test the waters by having a garage sale. After I posted details on my Instagram page word of mouth spread fast and I sold out of 175 plants over the course of four days.”
With a shipment crew of four to six men that help unload and ship shipments, along with the social media manager Syd based out of ATX and the operation crew of Bradford, her business Brandon Smith based out of Dallas and her wife who helps with the Atlanta market.
“As busy as we are this business has allowed me to actually spend more time with my family. Seeing that we are a pop-up business I can set my daily schedule around our shipment schedule around my pop-ups while being a full time mom,” Bradford said. “Since our kid is no longer in day-care my wife and I juggle our work schedule around him.”
While growth is nothing Bradford and her team are unfamiliar with, they are continuing to do so everyday.
“I plan to host a multi-city pop-up tour by next spring and curate large events for the general public as well as create an entire design team for events, films and weddings,” Bradford said. “I plan to continue to collaborate with other small business owners, artisans and musicians and feature them in hopes to drive traffic from our platform. We will continue to raise money for charitable causes and continue making a direct impact on the community. I have so many amazing ideas in my head and I’m excited to see how my vision comes to life. The growth of the brand was definitely not expected but I think due to the pandemic and everyone spending so much time at home this contributed to the rapid growth of the HGTV home design culture.”
Along with selling indoor plants Bradford loves supporting local business owners and artists, the company also sells local art, vinyls, black literature and home decor goods such as planters and candles.
“One of my favorite artists based out of LA is Andrea Price, @andreaevolves was the first person I reached out to when starting this business. I owned a few of her pieces before starting And it was important for me to share her amazing work with everyone else,” Bradford said. “As a female entrepreneur I love what she stands for. Her work speaks for itself. Another author I sell from my store is Karla Clark. She actually has a children’s book called “You Be Mommy”. This is a popular book that we sell in our store as lots of parents come in with their little ones. Black representation matters and I want to highlight all there is to offer in my store.”
Indoor gardening was not something Bradford knew she would be spending a majority of her life doing, working in logistics and the supply chain for over 10 years with companies such as Clorox, Brightstar and NCR she always knew she wanted something more.
“The knowledge I learned from working for these companies definitely helped me streamline and run my own business. It’s way more work but very rewarding and enjoyable being able to do it for myself though,” Bradford said. “Indoor gardening was definitely something I learned and got better with over time. It was therapy for me before it ever became a business idea. It has allowed me to reestablish my sense of home and self as well as manage my anxiety.”
Bradford Botanical & CO has been life changing for Bradford and the things is they are just getting started. She hopes to continue being an example of a strong black business owner and being an inspiration to her son.
“If plant boutiques weren’t popular before I’m sure they are now. Everyone is getting bit by the plant bug and I’m seeing plant shops pop-up all over the place. I love how so many people are being inspired by the culture it has created,” Bradford said. “It was important for me to create a legacy for my son and future kids. It’s easy for my son to see that I have a “job” but for him to see me doing something that I love is totally different. I couldn’t swallow the thought of telling my kid to go after his dreams if I’m scared to pursue my own. This brand is a reflection of that and I hope that he can carry the torch by doing the same someday.”
Bradford is not just a part of a business but a family that has had to deal with some extreme struggles lately.
“During this time of growth and success I’ve had to deal with the passing of three family members unexpectedly. It’s hard to explain the roller coaster of emotions I’ve dealt with in the past few months but it’s a reminder that tomorrow isn’t promised and it motivates me more than ever to go after everything I want in the time I have here on earth,” Bradford said.
With the BLM support black owned businesses all across the country have seen the support of allies everywhere. This is true especially for Bradford Botanical & CO and Bradford could not be more appreciative.
“It’s been a blessing to see how many people want to support black owned businesses right now,” Bradford said. “I hope this energy never goes away.”