Retna Bai from Thiruvananthapuram began her online indoor plants business under the brand name of Aamiz Plantaz in 2019. She now runs a store along with her daughters Dr Salini R and Syama R.
When Thiruvananthapuram natives Hridya and Gautham decided to get married, they thought of getting a present for each guest who attended their special day. While surfing for something unique and beautiful, Hridya’s eyes caught on an Instagram page called Aamiz Plantaz, which sold green gifts– plants in ceramic pots with jute wrapping. The couple and all the guests loved these little presents which adorn their homes today.
Aamiz Plantaz is a store by Retna Bai, a retired lower primary school teacher from Venganoor. She was fond of plants and had a home garden with flowers. Her daughters Syama R and Salini R suggested starting a business using her plant collection – after Retna Bai retired.
Syama, an assistant professor, helped her mother start Facebook and Instagram pages. Salini, a forensic surgeon, also joined to get the ball rolling. It was during the first lockdown in 2020 that entrepreneurship came into force.
“We focus more on indoor plants, and during the lockdown, there was a great market for it. People were staying at home and trying to make their spaces prettier. Thus, the business prospered more than expected,” says 62-year-old Retna to The Better India.
The mother-daughters trio attended some exhibitions in the upcoming months, which paved the way to opening a store in YMR Junction, Thiruvananthapuram. In March 2021, Aamiz Plantaz began its sales in a complex with other women entrepreneurs of the town. “The place, Woman & Home, now has seven stores selling various products like clothing and jewellery, managed by women. We are like a team, and even if one person is away for a day or two, others will manage the respective stores,” Retna gushes.
Aamiz Plantaz has a wide collection of indoor plants grown in Retna’s house. There are several varieties of succulents, cacti, zamioculcas (ZZ), and araceae. In addition to these, ceramic pots of all shapes and sizes are available. “We sell plants in ceramic pots only, to promote sustainability. Also, we take extra care to make eco-friendly packaging using jute and clothes,” explains Syama, the younger daughter.
Even though the online store was set up with the help of her daughters, the store is now managed by Retna alone. It is open on all days except Tuesday from 9 am to 7 pm. “I get assistance from my daughters, son-in-law and fellow women entrepreneurs, but mostly, it’s run by myself. They help me in collecting plants and pots. The plants are gathered both locally and from gardens. Some pots are imported, and others are regionally available,” explains the sexagenarian.
“We have always seen amma (mother) being creative with anything she finds. Her home garden is always our favourite place to chill even though both of us no longer live in that house. We planned the whole entrepreneurial thing to engage her and take it as a method of relaxation,” shares Salini.
Retna agrees to Salini’s words because the business is now the best part of her life. At times, she is bothered by her husband’s illness, but Retna says that engaging in the store is a good way to let go of such difficult thoughts. “More than the profits, I value the joy of doing what I really love. Thanks to my daughters,” says the mother.
Retna is an example of the saying that age shouldn’t stop one from following their passion. On the other hand, her daughters show us how to take care of parents the right way by encouraging their mother to do what she loves.
Edited by Vinayak Hegde