We had the good fortune of connecting with Matthew Oakes and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Matthew, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
We wanted to create a space that connects with guests, refreshes them and hopefully inspires them to bring a little life into their home. Being immersed in nature has so many benefits for us as human beings. Plants have been proven to reduce stress, lower blood pressure and improve our overall mental and physical wellbeing. There has never been a time where these benefits have been more valuable as now. These benefits do come with a small cost, To educate ourselves and understand how to cultivate plants in our homes. Sometimes this might even requires a bit of experimentation. We take this seriously and love helping others be successful in keeping their plants happy and thriving. That is always our first step. Aside from this we believe that plants have so much more potential than to fill the empty spaces in our living rooms. They should be used in ways that highlight their unique characteristics while complimenting the room they live in. Plants should be considered and integrated into the design of a space from conception. Not only will this create more opportunities to enrich our homes with plants but it also has the potential to increase our success with keeping them happy over time by selecting spaces with appropriate environmental needs.
What should our readers know about your business?
Because our team is so passionate about plants we always look forward to answering any questions you might have. The hard part is getting us to shut up once we start on our plant rants. Even still, we always aim to bring a little reality to the situation. We understand that you have a job, a significant other, a family or a pet that will hopefully take your attention before your plants. So we are happy to make realistic recommendations or solutions for all of your plant questions. Our business, The Flora Culture, is coming up on its first anniversary. And it didn’t take long for us to form great relationships with some amazing people that walked in our doors. One of my favorite parts of my day is visiting with our regular guests and getting an update on everything from their newest plant additions to their latest travels. Some have been with us from day one of our store and others have already made an impact on us just in the last month.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
If it were up to me I would plan every trip around 3 things, Food, Plants and Nature. Houston is literally one of the greatest cities in the U.S. when it comes to amazing food. As much as I would love to never visit the same restaurant twice, I am definitely a creature of habit. For Breakfast, my favorite dine-in spot is right next door to our shop, French Riviera Bakery & Cafe, you cannot compete with their pastries. If I’m grabbing something to-go Laredo Taqueria on Washington Ave has the best breakfast tacos. Having lived off Terry Hershey Park in the past, I would definitely make an effort to bike the trail. It has so much diversity from one section to the next and feels like an escape from our many noisy highways. Another great outdoor public space is McGovern Centennial Gardens in The Museum District. The gardens look impeccable all year long. Just make sure you get there early on weekends to find parking. On the topic of gardens, I am very excited for the Houston Botanic Gardens on the south side of town that is due to open this fall, 2020. I am planning to make this a staple for anyone I know visiting. For lunch it is always a tie between My favorite Tex-Mex, Superica in The Houston Heights, or Fufu Cafe in China Town. If we are ever looking for a late night meal Fufu cafe is the best Chinese food and is open until 2am. When it comes to plant shopping I know just about every nursery in town by heart. You would have thought that opening my own plant shop would have discouraged this a little but I still visit other shops every chance I get. Buchanan’s Native Plants in the Houston Heights is a favorite and is always fun to explore. At the moment my favorite dinner spot is Nancy’s Hustle in EaDo. Amazing appetizers and the greatest cocktails. If I’m looking for live music and a drink that’s a little more low-key, Cafeza in First Ward has some of the cities most talented artists. And the best part is there is no cover. The more I think about my favorite spots the more places I think of. But that is the best part of Houston, There are always options.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My wife/business partner and myself have been so grateful to be supported by our amazing family and friends from the conception of our business up until now. Starting a business and opening a storefront with our two young boys was no easy task and was only made possible because of the amazing and talented people we surrounded ourselves with. We have very intentionally kept things in our family as much as possible. And it has been so amazing to have people we trust beside us whether we were pulling all-nighters for a design, building-out our retail store or celebrating our first commercial contract. It has been almost one year after we opened our store and we still have family members and friends that stop in to say hi and end up picking up a broom or a mop and helping us with the dirty work. We are truly blessed!