In Conversation with Monai Nailah McCullough
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PLANTMOM was founded in 2018 by Monai Nailah McCullough, a horticulturalist from NYC with almost a decade of experience with caring for indoor plants. Blending passion and business, her goal is to use design and education to make plant ownership more sustainable and plant owners more confident, with a focus on urban environments in metropolitan cities across the world.
What's your current theme song? If you have a reason, please share.
It Gets (Better with Time) - The Internet - constant reminder that no matter what if I stay focused, it gets better. Everything gets better.
What are you working on?
Currently working on opening up a plant shop! Planthood is my newest venture here in Amsterdam and if all goes well we should be open by mid September!
Tell me about your journey to now. What impactful moments led you to your work?
The loss of my father very shortly after I moved to Europe. After the service, when I returned back to Amsterdam I surrounded myself with more plants than ever before and I decided to not pursue my studies in Amsterdam but instead share how plants helped me heal my trauma and started PLANTMOM. Since our first plant workshop in 2018 we have taught over 1500 students how to love plants and help them make more conscious decisions. My small team and I have been able to complete projects from installations of larger than life plants, green walls, and work with companies from Nike to Booking.com. In short I am so happy I get to wake up and do this everyday.
Who and/or what motivates your passion each day?
How well people respond to something I have loved for many years, how much I can help change my followers and students' perspective when it comes to how they view their plants and how they view themselves as plant parents.
How do you define Radical Self Care?
Do whatever you need to do to take of yourself without harming yourself or others.
What rituals do you have to help maintain homeostasis of mind, body, and spirit?
Evening meditation, gardening (indoor and out), and consuming cannabis
How do you incorporate plants into your well being routine? How is the cannabis (THC, CBD, CBN, etc) a part of your plant ritual?
Each week I have plant projects to keep myself always challenged and learning about my 150+ plants, which I sometimes document on social media. I am a daily user of cannabis, and use when doing my gardening projects.
Who would you like to experience an altered state (dream elevation + discussion) with and how would you achieve this flow state?
James Baldwin, cannabis for sure, dream cypher.
Love the phrase "slow down to speed up", what does that mean to you personally and within the present global pause?
I am calling 2020 the year of Sankofa, sankofa is a conceptual symbol in Adinkra that translates to "go back and get it" The symbol is a bird with an egg of her back but she is facing forward. When you slow down, go back, and get it, "it" serves as a catalyst for growth and progress.
What is the gift you bring to community?
Honesty, openness, and knowledge and working on leadership.
What has been the most challenging for you during this time?
Losing one of my main sources of income (holding workshops for private and corporate events)
What made you become an advocate in the space and for the plant?
When I fell in love with plants and continued onto a career path, I always felt uncomfortable with the lack of black and brown women who were in leadership roles when it came to gardening in or out. When I started PLANTMOM not only did I want to help change the way people cared for their plants but also inspire other black women to take up space in this field.