We recently connected with Damarys Crawford and have shared our conversation below.
Hi Damarys , thanks for joining us today. How did you come up with the idea for your business?
I’ve always had a passion for plants since I was a little girl, but I never thought it would become a profession. I followed the traditional route most children of immigrants follow: to go to college, although I hoped one day, I could pursue my passion.
I was born on the exotic tropical island of Cuba in a town called ‘Las Tunas.’ Coincidently I was born in a town named after a plant, specifically the Opuntia Cactus commonly known in Latin American as “Tuna”. It was a prolific grower in my small town. I grew up surrounded by nature and my mother’s garden that included many exotics and common plants she called “Malanguitas y Lengua de Vaca,” known in parts of the US commonly as Pothos and Snake Plant.
What started as a childhood passion and a small, rare collection from seeds and cuttings eventually blossomed into a profession. After working in corporate America for well-known brands such as L’Oreal, I finally entered the horticultural industry in 2012 and worked with global breeders and the largest ornamental plant company in the country, possibly the world.
Today I have over ten years of experience working in the horticulture industry. I was able to tap into a niche market of rare plant collectors while working for corporate growers.
I was one of those rare plant collectors who wanted to add exotic tropical plants from Latin America to my collection, but these plants were going for hundreds, sometimes thousands of dollars. As a result, I created a brand for my previous employer, Trending Tropicals, to bring tropical, uncommon plants to mass markets.
While this felt like a great accomplishment, it didn’t feel like I had achieved my personal goal. I was still in a corporate role where Latinas were underrepresented in the leadership team. So, I opened Plant the Jungle!
As always, we appreciate you sharing your insights and we’ve got a few more questions for you, but before we get to all of that can you take a minute to introduce yourself and give our readers some of your background and context?
I own an online plant shop, Plant the Jungle, that focuses on rare and exotic plants mainly from Latin America, while some are from Southeast Asia. These are plants not always commonly found in the US, although as plant collecting became more lucrative, some companies have entered the industry and exploited these plants as a cash grab.
Have you ever had to pivot?
Like many of us, I had to pivot in 2020 during the pandemic. After a lifelong career in corporate America, I decided it was time to follow my passion of one day owning a greenhouse and an online plant shop.
I still work through many demands as a business owner and wear many hats. However, I’m grateful for everything I learned in corporate America because it helps me be more strategic with my company.
Any insights you can share with us about how you built up your social media presence?
Although I have been in the horticulture industry for years, I have a background in marketing. I studied marketing at FIU and completed a digital marketing certificate program at Harvard.
I knew that social media levels the playing field for many businesses and that it can help launch many companies. During the pandemic, I focused on building a community of customers but also other companies with similar products and size. People forget that social media is about being social and the importance of engaging with other creators. Often businesses post and don’t engage. Engaging is what helped me build a presence and also build lasting relationships.
Social media is constantly evolving and so are the various platforms, but one formula that will always work is to engage with your audience.
- Website: www.plantthejungle.com
- Instagram: @plantthejungle
- Other: TikTok: @plantthejungle (@latinajunglequeen)