If you have an Instagram page, then surely you've seen the growing number of black women getting into the plant game. Since we began quarantining due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of black women becoming plant moms has grown exponentially. Caring for plants has propelled itself far past its aesthetic roots, and instead the act of growing, cultivating, and watering something outside of ourselves has become a lifeline, a reminder of normalcy, and an act of self-care. From the Fiddle-leaf fig tree to Bird of Paradise, houseplants have become a reminder of how beautiful growth can be.
Still, for many, having plants was a passion long before we even heard of COVID-19. I reached out to some of these women, women I like to call OG plant moms. During our conversation, we discussed how they got into caring for plants, what plants they love, and tips and tricks for caring for plants just in case you need help like me. Here's the rundown.
Meet the Ladies
Antonia, who is a teacher by day, not only cares for her two dogs, she also has over 60 plants. She runs a site called The Modern Plant Lady where she gives you the quick rundown and simple steps to care for your houseplants. Follow Antonia @themodernplantlady.
Chanel Anice is a self-proclaimed plant mom, vibe cultivator and yogi. Chanel drops tons of tips and tricks on her Instagram page, so make sure you follow her @chanel.alamode.
Veronica, who is known in the houseplant space as The Houseplant Therapist, uses plants for therapy. She's also the creator of #brownskinplantmama. Access a free plant buying guide here and follow her @brownskinplantmama.
How did you develop your green thumb?
Antonia: I developed my green thumb through lots of research and plant conversations with my mother. I spent many hours reading and learning about plants.
Chanel: Growing up, my mom always kept a ton of plants around the house. Like, a lot, even by my standards. But they were just always there so I never paid them much attention— until I bought my first plant (a snake plant) back in 2016. One plant became two, then three and my collection just slowly grew from there! I always say to start with something easy and low-maintenance to boost your confidence. From there, you really can learn a lot from YouTube University! There's a whole thriving plant community on there with a wealth of knowledge. I can be kind of intense and love learning about new things, so there was a period of time where I was literally watching hours of plant videos daily, just completely in awe of their magic!
Veronica: My mother is a master gardener and I grew up with a living room full of houseplants of all different types. There were so many plants you could barely see out of the front window! In addition to our indoor plant collection, we grew food in our outdoor garden. I would help my mother tend to our different fruits and vegetables at a young age, so I guess you could say that my ability to care for plants is an inherited gift that was passed down because, in addition to my mother, I come from a lineage of sharecroppers.
What plants do you find yourself gravitating towards?
Antonia: I find myself gravitating towards big ones! I get excited about anything that's big and green. I love tall plants and ones that spread out wide. I remember the first time I got my hands on a tall Fiddle-leaf fig (taller than me), I was ecstatic! I would walk into my living room and regularly gawk at it. To have something so beautiful in my home made me extremely happy.
Chanel: I have all sorts of plants in my collection, but I always find myself drawn to tropical plants— Monsteras, birds of paradise, ZZ plants, Rubber Plants. Those are a few of my favorites. They make such a bold statement with their striking leaves, and I really love that kind of boho, jungle vibe for my space. Tropical plants are the perfect way to add that flair.
Veronica: I absolutely love pothos and philodendron varieties. Each have their own uniqueness and I love that they can either climb or trail.
"Plants have become a form of self-care for me because they force me to slow down and give them attention. I check on my plants every Wednesday and Saturday. This means that no matter how crazy the week is, right in the middle of it all, I have to take time to check on every plant in my home and give it the care it needs. When Saturday rolls around after an exhausting week, waking up and tending to my plants provides me a sense of calmness and clarity."
How have plants become a form of self-care in your home, especially during these times of COVID-19?
Antonia: Plants have become a form of self-care for me because they force me to slow down and give them attention. I check on my plants every Wednesday and Saturday. This means that no matter how crazy the week is, right in the middle of it all, I have to take time to check on every plant in my home and give it the care it needs. When Saturday rolls around after an exhausting week, waking up and tending to my plants provides me a sense of calmness and clarity. It relaxes me and helps me decompress from the week.
Chanel: My plants have always been a form of self-care for me. They are natural mood-boosters and stress-reducers, which is one of the first things that I noticed when I first started taking care of plants a few years ago. With all the uncertainty in the world, it's so easy to get caught up in thinking about the past or worrying about the future, which is ultimately the root of a lot of the feelings of sadness, worry, and anxiety we might be experiencing. My plants keep me grounded in the moment because you really have to get still and pay attention to learn each plant and her unique needs. Putting that time and energy into taking care of my plants naturally translates into me taking better care of and being kinder to myself. Plus, the simple joy of seeing the plant you've been nurturing putting out a new leaf is like nothing else! All the amazing people and communities I've met through my plant journey have been an unexpected bonus. That sense of connectedness is something that a lot of us are missing while we're stuck at home.
"My plants keep me grounded in the moment because you really have to get still and pay attention to learn each plant and her unique needs. Putting that time and energy into taking care of my plants naturally translates into me taking better care of and being kinder to myself."
Veronica: I truly believe that plants can be used as therapeutic properties for mental emotional and spiritual healing. My sister died unexpectedly in February of 2018. I avoided going to grief therapy for a year and finally embarked on the journey after putting it off for an entire year. Having successfully gone through a year and one month of traditional talk therapy, I ended our relationship (it was amicable) and was met with the responsibility of continuing the hard work I had done over the last year. One week prior to the shutdown, I visited my local nursery to grab some new plants hoping that they would uplift my spirit from the late winter blues.
Little did I know that one trip would not only bring me back to my love for plants, but provide me with a healthy practice to continue my journey of self-love and healing after the intentional work with my therapist. I had lost myself completely when my sister died. I was in a very dark place and didn't have the will to care for myself or anything else (other than my daughter). It was all a divine connection the way plants saved me. Had I not selected the therapist that I did (who had plants all over her office which piqued my interest in them again), I would not have seen and experienced the healing properties of plants and I most certainly would not have a platform that is geared towards helping others find and understand that plant therapy is real! All of this happened unexpectedly during the pandemic as my next necessary pivot. I am humbled to be the vessel to do such divinely inspired empowerment work.
"I truly believe that plants can be used as therapeutic properties for mental emotional and spiritual healing... I had lost myself completely when my sister died. I was in a very dark place and didn't have the will to care for myself or anything else (other than my daughter). It was all a divine connection the way plants saved me."
Can you share any tips or tricks that you’ve learned on your plant journey?
Antonia: Reach out and connect with other plant parents and lovers. There's a wealth of knowledge in the plant community and most plant folks love to talk about plants and help others with their plants. Most plants get overwatered. Go under before over. If you're struggling with a plant, don't give up. Do some research, reach out to plant-loving people and keep trying. Don't be so quick to throw it out and get a new one. Getting to know a new plant takes time. The tips and tricks out there on the web are a great starting point, but sometimes it takes you figuring it out on your own as you get to know your plant. Be patient.
Chanel:It might sound obvious, but when it comes to keeping your plants happy, light and water are really the two most important factors. So, before you choose a plant, take some time to learn your space. Are there lots of trees or tall buildings outside of your window? What type of light does your space get? Watch how the light moves and changes in different rooms throughout the day. Pull out the compass app on your phone and figure out which direction your windows face— a north-facing window is going to get a lot less light than a south- or west-facing window. Then you can choose plants that will actually survive and thrive in your space. Next, I always recommend you get a moisture meter. They're only $12 on Amazon and they basically take all the guesswork out of watering.
Veronica: The most vital tip that I have learned and constantly share is that you must know the conditions of your living space first because going out to buy a ton of plants. If you don't have the environment for your plants to thrive, you will not be successful at keeping them alive. Knowing the lighting situation in your home is so important because it will lessen the headache that comes with trying to care for a plant in the ways it needs. Knowing the lighting situation in your space also allows you to find particular plants that thrive in that environment. Not doing so will cause many headaches down the line so let's avoid that before it becomes an issue (P.S. grow lights are helpful when you don't have the best lighting, but I wouldn't recommend them until one has some care experience under their belt).
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Featured image by Look Studio/Shutterstock
Originally published August 20, 2020
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This post is in partnership with BET+.
Kingdom Business is back for its second season, with even more sermons, songs, and serpents. The series picks up where it left off, with actress Serayah as Rbel caught between the stripper pole and the pulpit. With the first lady of the church working desperately against her, Rbel must find a way to live her dreams and honor her friend while figuring out her faith in the process.
Season one served a collection plate of rivalry, deceit, and revenge –– among many other tribulations. Between the 28-year-old’s acting, conviction, and harmonious voice, here are a few reasons why season two of Kingdom Business is a must-watch.
If the Spirit Doesn’t Move You, Serayah’s Singing Voice Will
Rbel, formally known as Rebecca Belle, is a stripper whose life forcibly takes a turn after suffering a tragedy. Through her quest to find the truth, Rbel finds herself at odds with the head of a local church, First Kingdom’s Denita Jordan, played by the legendary Yolanda Adams. Rbel unknowingly emerges as what a faithful Christian embodies: a perfectly imperfect human who works every day to try their best while leaning on God. Although struggling with her faith, each ballad sung by Rbel can be felt, as the lyrics relate to personal struggles we all endure in different ways. Gospel songs hit differently when your life is in shambles, and chile, Serayah is singing new life into folks.
Serayah is a Formidable Opponent to The Yolanda Adams
As one of the best-selling gospel artists of all time, it’s no easy task to take on the role of a person on the opposing side of greatness. Serayah’s Rbel does an excellent job meeting Jordan at her level while shining through her solos. Throughout season one, Rbel emerges as a top streaming artist, an accomplishment that begets something of a holy war.
Serayah’s Acting Range is Engaging
As a former stripper trying to make a name for herself in the gospel industry, you can imagine the struggles that could come with it. Rbel goes through a range of emotions, all understandable and relatable. Despite several crises of faith, Serayah ensures Rbel delivers a humbling performance that makes the audience root for her redemption.
The Kingdom Business Soundtrack is Everything
Streaming now on Spotify, Tidal, and Apple Music, the Kingdom Business: Season 1 soundtrack is one you’d want to add to your playlist for high and low times. Aside from four soul-soothing songs from Serayah, the soundtrack also features singles from co-star/Hamilton’s Chaundre-Hall Broomfield, gospel artist Chandler Moore, and legend Yolanda Adams.
Serayah’s Rbel Makes You Root For Her
With First Kingdom beginning to crumble under the pressure of lies, infidelity, and deception, Rbel’s window to take that top spot seems wide open; however, the end of season one showed us the Spirit had other plans. Whether you believe or not, Serayah’s Rbel makes you want to see her win. Who doesn’t love a good underdog with a laid 22” bust down? Whether she seeks Him or not, God is proving to be on Rbel’s side. But is it enough to turn everything around for her? Will Rbel lean on faith or fear?
With secrets coming to light, success within reach, and the devastating conclusion of season one, you don’t want to miss season two––especially with more guest collaborations. Kingdom Business returns to BET+ on Nov 2.
BET+ Original | Kingdom Business | S2 Official Traileryoutu.be
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With 2024 around the corner, a lot of us are starting to think about future goals. What new ideas do I want to bring to life, or what am I currently working on that needs improvement? I’ll be transparent in saying that improving my finances has been an ongoing challenge. I mean, sure, I’m generally stable. But “stable” isn’t enough to invest how I’d like or significantly save as desired. And while it’s not everyone’s favorite subject to bring to the dinner table, I realize a lot of my peers are facing the same problem. Especially in this economy, chile.
That’s why I was super excited to speak with personal finance coach, author, and certified financial instructor Rachael Hanible, a 36-year old Philly-native who has paid off over $92,000 in debt, saved a year's worth of her income, and sports a credit score of 846. In this conversation with xoNecole, she shared her finance journey, along with a few helpful tips for the girlies trying to make money moves (cues, Cardi B).
First, I have to say paying off over $90,000 worth of debt is amazing. Can you tell me a little bit about that journey? How did you cultivate it, and when was the moment you knew you wanted to change your situation?
It was a mixture of a few things. There was some student loan debt there. Plus, I had a car note and credit card debt. I grew up poor, but I never felt like that was God’s plan for my life. I always said I was a millionaire-in-training and spoke about the things I’d do when I’m wealthy. And I woke up one day with an idea of being debt-free, even though I didn’t know anyone who was. I was in school working at a convenience store, making $8/hr. when I had the bright idea. But after I finished college, I revisited the thought, and that’s when the plan started.
"I grew up poor, but I never felt like that was God’s plan for my life. I always said I was a millionaire-in-training and spoke about the things I’d do when I’m wealthy. And I woke up one day with an idea of being debt-free, even though I didn’t know anyone who was."
So many of us want to do that but struggle to make it a reality. What was your process?
I got a job doing accounting after my college job. One day, I just calculated all of my debt and discovered how much was being added to my student loan daily. In my mind, I just wanted to cut down the days that I owed that money, and I applied the same principle to my car note. I started with an extra $5 to my student loans and an extra $20 to my car note. And I was consistent with that idea as I continued to find and grow more income. Now I’m almost 13 years in with no car payment and 11 years with no student loan debt.
Did you always have a good relationship with money?
No (laughs). I went to school for business law, and one of my first assignments was to get a subscription to Wall Street Journal, but I held on to it after the assignment. I started to read about investing, ROTH IRAs, and more. They were mentioning words I never heard before, and that started my journey to learning more.
Just curious, what was your biggest splurge before you got here?
Probably shoes. I have over 100 pairs of shoes (laughs).
You gotta treat yourself sometimes, right?
Girl, not that much (laughs).
Photo courtesy of Rachael Hanible
Well, did you ever work any crazy jobs to get by?
Nothing too crazy because I’ve always been big on integrity over income. But I used to teach Excel classes in my apartment. People from churches would send their registration list, I’d reach out, and they’d come to my little one-bedroom and learn.
It’s giving hustler more than crazy, but I can appreciate the full-circleness of it all. Because, today, how much do you save monthly?
Right now, my major goal is to pay off my 30-year mortgage in eight years, and I have one more year to go. So I’d say I’m averaging about $3K a month toward saving or putting toward my home loans.
That’s incredible. But I’m curious – it’s hard enough to shift your finances the way you did. What triggered you to transform this skill into a business?
For years, I was helping people, and that continued to grow. People actually told me I should start charging – so I did.
You offer a lot more, though, right? Talk to me about your multiple streams.
Yes, it started with that one thing: talking and helping people. But when you solve one problem, people will send you bigger problems. So, it developed into classes for kids. Those sessions start at age three and go all the way to college-aged. Also, I’m an author and teach about real estate, budgeting, and credit.
What’s been your biggest business challenge so far?
Even though it's a sexy subject now, no one wanted to talk about this years ago. In the beginning, people didn’t wanna hear from a Black woman with no kids and no husband about financial literacy. For whatever reason, people felt like those things didn’t make me relatable. Like, of course, she can do this if she doesn’t have kids. It was difficult; that was something I really had to fight through.
Ugh, that's ridiculous. Did you have a person or tribe to confide in? Who do you talk to?
Yes, I talk to my mom. She’s a pastor. Then there’s my big sister, who is a mixture of the church and the streets and, of course, my best friend. She’s all the way left (laughs). I come to them for business and relationships. They are all fair and give me encouragement.
From working with diverse clientele, have you picked up on any popular unhealthy spending habits?
The habits are connected to the mindset. The mindset controls your access. Unfortunately, a lot of us don’t feel like freedom, luxury, or wealth is for us. Whether we have $5 or $5,000. I think once we shift that mindset, we’ll be able to hold on to it more.
"The habits are connected to the mindset. The mindset controls your access. Unfortunately, a lot of us don’t feel like freedom, luxury, or wealth is for us. Whether we have $5 or $5,000. I think once we shift that mindset, we’ll be able to hold on to it more."
How would you define wealth?
I define wealth as freedom and options. There are people waking up to do things they don’t want to do because they need the money and people going to sleep not doing what they want because they don’t have the money. Wealth is being able to make decisions when and how you want.
Okay, it’s time for you to teach us your ways. What investments do you currently have? Can you give us exact names?
When it comes to investing, I’ve heard conflicting advice. Some people say you should start making investments as soon as you have consistent money coming in, and others suggest waiting and building more first. What’s your perspective?
I think we should have an emergency fund, especially now. You need something you can access quickly. For my clients, I always suggest setting a freedom number in case something happens. And then, after that, we do an even split of investing and saving. Inflation isn’t going anywhere, so we have to make our money grow.
"Inflation isn't going anywhere, so we have to make our money grow."
Photo courtesy of Rachael Hanible
And when it comes to budgeting, how detailed do we need to be?
Very. There are so many of us that work so hard for our money and don’t know where it’s going. Small things can go a long way. A lot of us are throwing small amounts of money away every day; that can add up, especially if you’re living paycheck-to-paycheck or have big goals.
What needs to be included on that budget? Can you share a must-have?
Build for fun in your budget now and freedom for the future. You need a healthy balance for it to be successful and realistic.
Do you have a money mantra that you swear by?
I still say I'm a millionaire-in-training. Now I have all my kids in class saying that. And I end all my classes by reminding people that even though they now have the knowledge and inspiration, only they can make the decision to change.
What’s been your biggest lesson through this process?
God takes care of the people who take care of His people. When I first started, I didn’t have the jazzy marketing and photo shoots, but people could tell my heart was connected to this. And I think that’s why, after ten years, I’m still getting new clients, contracts, and etc. There’s so much content about how to make your business grow, but the most important thing is to care and be passionate about what you’re doing.
What advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs?
Do something that you would do for free. People say you’ll never work a day in your life if you’re doing what you love. That’s not true. There’s gonna be some piece of your purpose that you’re not gonna like. But if you’d do it for free, that will tell you everything about longevity and if you’re doing it from your heart.
Things you’re gonna learn: taking the stairs is essential. If you try and take the fast lane, you’re gonna get to some levels you’re not prepared for. So, do it for free first and take the stairs.
Finally, what is your ultimate saving goal?
I don’t want any debt. Also, being able to make sure my mom is comfortable – she’s had some health challenges. I want to be able to do what I love without worrying about bills, and I want to be able to serve the people and not count pennies in the process.
I think it’s safe to say she’s well on her way.
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Feature image courtesy of Rachael Hanible