This inspired interview is with my girl, Katlyn Daoust Founder of Plants by Her. I am very lucky to have met Katlyn in person. She has always been someone that I have looked up to and been inspired by. She is incredibly hardworking, focused and creative. Her style alone is out of a magazine, straight out of I don’t know what but I want everything in her closet. We met at the yoga studio and worked and practiced along side one another for about a year in Minneapolis. She now resides in Seattle, living out a dream doing the coolest job ever, her title is Planterior Designer! I hope you enjoy this interview as much as I did, she brought me to a full out laugh.
How would you describe your work and what Plants by Her is?
Through my work I get to curate plantified interiors to bring the benefits of plants indoors — pinch me! Studies show houseplants reduce stress levels, boost productivity and clean the air (it’s actual science, I swear), so my mission at Plants By Her is to bring those perks to interiors in a stylish and liveable way.
What is planterior design and how did you find this work?
Planterior design is kind of like interior design, but specific to houseplants. It’s a bit of a made-up term that does a great job at blending the art of interior decorating with the science of plant care. Anyone can enjoy plant parenthood as long as they follow some essential criteria for selecting and caring for their plants, which is where I come in. And when I say anyone, I mean it. I don’t believe in green thumbs, or that you need a horticulture degree to have happy and healthy houseplants, and I’m proof of that. My background is actually in advertising, a field that stressed me out beyond belief. I found myself turning to houseplants as a therapeutic outlet to manage my anxiety. Eventually I began to combine that interest with an inclination toward interior design, lots of trial and error, and learning everything I could about plants. After I broke up with my ad career, friends started coming out of the woodwork to ask for my help plantifying their homes and businesses. I realized I was having more fun than I ever had in my former “9-5” and thought, “why the heck can’t this be my day job?” Thus, Plants By Her was born.
What is it like to hire and work with a planterior designer?
Working with a planterior designer is totally scalable. Some folks just need a nudge in the right direction or help troubleshooting houseplant problems, for which a basic video consult is perfect. Others want a full-blown planterior design so they don’t have to get their hands dirty (my job has the best puns). In that instance, we’d put together a plan complete with plant and placement options, mood boards, materials recommendations (like planters, plant stands, and other accessories), and execute the installation to make sure everything is styled to perfection. It’s a complete package resulting in a plant collection that not only looks aesthetically pleasing, but is also set up to thrive.
What is your favorite quick houseplant tip?
The most common question I get from clients and workshop students is, “how do I know when I should water my plants?” The best trick in the book is to use your finger to test the soil moisture before laying a hand on your watering can. There are many plant apps out there that set watering schedules, but they don’t take into account other variables that affect whether or not your plant needs water (like humidity, light availability, environment, drainage, seasonality). For that reason, I always tell people to press their finger into the top 1″-2″ of soil: if the soil is moist, your plant isn’t ready for water; if the soil is dry, your plant could use a drink. There are other factors to consider, but as a general rule of thumb this method is more intuitive than any schedule or algorithm.
Where do you find inspiration?
Travel is definitely my muse. Experiencing other cultures, lifestyles and rituals energizes me. Plus, there are some truly amazing plants around the world that are best experienced in their natural habitats. I’m also a highly visual person, so glossy print magazines, scroll-stopping photography and plant-forward illustrations are mediums that always influence my mood boards. And I wouldn’t be a true millennial if I didn’t give Instagram a shout out. The platform has been a longtime go-to for inspiration from members of the plant community, interior designers, fellow small-business owners and brands that are highly visual.
How would you describe “creativity”? Do you find that it comes naturally to you? Or do you have a practice or rhythm you follow to encourage creative energy?
To me, creativity is openness, persistence and practice. It’s saying, “I tried a new approach and it didn’t work out, and that’s cool.” Or, “Daaang, I must have been in the zone because this turned out better than I even imagined!” I constantly have to remind myself of the shitty first draft when I’m working through the planterior design process. You can absolutely be afraid to fail, but as long as you show up time and time again you’ll never miss out on the opportunity to put something into the world and watch it evolve and grow.
How would you describe your philosophy or method behind your work?
After spending a month in Japan I was heavily influenced by the purposeful and minimalist local culture. It spilled over into the creation of Plants By Her and the work that I do to this day. There’s a Japanese term called Wabi-Sabi that roughly translates to “the beauty of imperfection.” When I work with houseplants, I prefer for them to take on their organic shapes and I love finding planters and other accessories that really showcase the plant. Though I can definitely hang with the urban jungle types, my true style tends to be more minimalist and paired back. There’s nothing like seeing a carefully curated collection of plants of all shapes and sizes that are each perfectly imperfect.
What is your favorite quote or mantra you love right now?
I’ve always loved the quote by Anaïs Nin, “And then the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” I know, I know, what a typical plant-lady quote, but this statement has been a big part of my life for the better part of the last decade, long before Plants By Her was conceptualized. It helped me transition through uncomfortable phases of life, including making the tough decision to leave my ad career for the unknown. Some days I feel tight in a bud and others I feel like I’m in full bloom, but I guess that’s just the seasonality of life and yet another lesson in impermanence that can be learned from plants.
Did you always have a green thumb or love nature?
I grew up around the water, spent summers playing in the woods and building forts, and had to be begged inside after long hours of roaming. I’m not sure I’m much different as an adult, actually. From Minnesota’s lakes and Hawaii’s rainforests to the mountains of the Pacific Northwest, spending time in the natural world has always been a priority no matter where I’ve lived. There’s actually a term for human inclination to spend time in commune with nature: Biophilia. It’s something we’re seeing cultivated as more and more people incorporate plants into their businesses, corporate offices, homes, cafes, fitness studios…the list goes on. Do they look cool? Absolutely. Is there something going on at a deeper level when it comes to our relationship with plants and how they make us feel? You better beleaf it. (I’m rolling my own eyes at that pun, but I can’t help myself.)
What advice would you give to the younger version of yourself or a planterior designer just starting out?
There are so many things I want to tell my younger self, or any young woman forging her own path, so if I find a time machine here’s the letter I’ll send: “Hey girl, just wanted to let you know that you’re doing a good job. It’s cool to be smart, but it’s cooler to be kind. Oh, and don’t take yourself so seriously, life is way better when you make it fun. And while you’re at it, do whatever lights you up, don’t worry about looking silly or what others are doing because we’re all on our own paths. I know it’s scary, I know you doubt yourself, but one day a woman is going to run for president which means you can do anything you darn well please. Know that you are capable, loved and absolutely enough. Finally, please stop wearing blue eye shadow and Abercrombie clothes, you’re better off without them. — With love, Grown Up-ish Katlyn”
How can we find your work or get involved?
Plants By Her is currently based in Seattle, but thanks to the internet you can find me just about anywhere! If you need plant advice, book a call on the Plants By Her Hotline, follow me on Instagram @plants_by_her and keep an eye out for online workshops via my website, plantsbyher.com. I’ll also be in Minneapolis for the month of July, so if you’re in that zip code and want to collaborate or need planterior design support, please reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.