Olivia Taylor and Jennifer Austin have been friends since they were 11, so the idea to create a business together came naturally. Gardens of Gaea, after the Greek word for "Mother Earth," sells handcrafted succulent terrariums and fairy gardens. The business started as a fun way to make gifts for friends, and eventually snowballed into an official business partnership. It became a vendor at Soda City Market at the end of April.
Taylor and Austin agreed that the best part of being entrepreneurs is that they are self-employed. “It’s nice to say I am my own boss,” Austin said.
Austin, a fifth-year graphic design student, performs marketing tasks and controls the social media accounts. Taylor, her business partner, manages the financial side of the operation and email communications with customers. They both contribute to constructing the gardens.
Their succulents are artistically arranged inside pieces of pottery or glassware, and each purchase includes a care guide with necessary steps for successfully keeping a succulent or cactus plant alive. Additionally, Taylor and Austin are readily available to help with any growing concerns customers might have.
“Our customers can always reach us through email or Facebook if they ever have any questions or issues with their plants,” Austin said.
Taylor offered advice to those who are unfamiliar with growing succulents or have a lack of gardening abilities. She suggested that succulent owners do their research and simply read up on information regarding succulent care. She also added that it is very easy to over-water succulents if there is not a good drainage system in place.
According to Austin, many college students frequent the Gardens of Gaea tent at Soda City. She attributed this to the easy nature of succulent care.
“It’s nice to be able to leave something pretty and alive in your dorm room,” Austin said.
Taylor and Austin hope to own an individual store one day. Gardens of Gaea has gardens for sale in NEST on Main Street and Re-Invintage on Rosewood Drive. They also vend bi-weekly at the Soda City market.
Gardens of Gaea will host a garden assembly class titled “Winter Gardens and Gifts” on Dec. 4 at the Michaels near Garners Ferry Road. Tickets to attend the class are $35, and it includes all the necessary materials to build and design your own personalized succulent garden or terrarium.