While it started as a hobby, Erica Johnson’s love for plants quickly became a reminder to care for herself and to heal during the stress and chaos of Covid-19.
While it started as a hobby, Erica Johnson’s love for plants quickly became a reminder to care for herself and to heal during the stress and chaos of Covid-19. “I offer taking care of plants as a time to stop and focus on stillness, to really take an assessment of your well-being,” Johnson said.
Collective Artistry, located at 32 Maplewood Mall, opened in July of 2020 after the pandemic forced her massage therapy business, opened in 2011, to close After deciding that her plant collection needed room to grow, she created a pop-up plant shop. “Once I opened my store I found so many people in my community willing to support me on my endeavor,” Johnson said.
Her store now offers a variety of plants, dried herbs, sage, and her own handmade jewelry. Her passion for plants began as a young girl when she gardened alongside her mother, and since then she has learned the individual needs of each plant variety and how best to care for them during the fall and winter. Johnson also made it a personal mission to rescue plants that are struggling to survive in hardware stores like Lowes and Home Depot.
In addition to growing and selling her own plants, Johnson teaches workshops, specifically aimed at young children, but open to all ages. She feels that plants allow children to stop and focus on one thing at a time, “Maybe by having a plant as a guide, they can make better decisions for themselves and for their future.”
While running the business on her own and being a black business owner, Johnson felt the pressures of navigating running her business solo, especially during a pandemic. While she feels more people are willing to support black-owned businesses in today’s political climate, she still found that there was a lack of resources for businesses like her own, “I couldn’t find any resources unless I went to school for it. When applying for business loans and grants, she noted that the verbiage was difficult to understand and there was a lack of people who were able to explain it to her.
However, her friends and her 15-year-old son remained by her side throughout these hardships and supported her throughout the journey.
On October 20th, Collective Artistry, partnered with the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, will be hosting a re-potting workshop. The workshop is open to all ages and will teach techniques for keeping your plants alive during the winter season.