We had the good fortune of connecting with Ariana Clermont and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Ariana, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
At a young age, I always knew I wanted to start a business of my own. Watching my parents build their own business from the ground up, definitely planted that seed. They owned a vending machine business in Arizona, which my sister and I were very much involved with the day to day. During the summers, I remember riding along with my mom on her route filling up all 50 machines at their 25 locations. I saw hard work first hand. Luckily for us, hard work was always paid off with soda pop and candy. As a kid, it didn’t get any better than that. That hustle will forever be instilled in me, and passed on to my children. With the seed planted, and creativity burning inside me, I started numerous businesses along the way from hair scrunchies, jewelry, baby booties, baby clothes, photography, events and health coach. Though none of these manifested into the great success I invisioned, invaluable lessons and skills were learned, establishing a great foundation in navigating my business today. It wasn’t until the success of my business, that I learned why all of my other endeavors were unsuccessful- they were missing purpose. One of my favorite quotes from Brene Brown, “Plant your feet and find some purpose!” I’m a true believer that purpose fuels passion. In 2016 I found my purpose when hurricane Matthew hit Haiti. My husband’s family opened a homeless center for boys in Haiti in memory of their father 18 years ago, The J.A. Clermont Memorial Foundation. Though the center was not directly affected by the hurricane, obstacles presented themselves for the children, and left a lasting impression on me. I knew I wanted to help create a line of income to help the foundation. At that point in my life, I was gardening succulents and cactus for my own peace of mind. I had just given birth to twin girls and needed an outlet to breathe. I was facinated with how resilient plants really were. No matter if they were cut down, broken down or fell apart, they always found a way to regenerate themselves, grow back and thrive. It was during this time, I made the correlation with the Haitian people and all of the hardships they’ve endured from natural disasters and poverty. No matter how hard they’ve been hit, they stayed resilient and hopeful for a better future. They are a proud people. Thats when Succulents For Haiti was founded, our original name. To be honest, I had no idea what I was doing, I just knew I had to start. I started making and selling arrangements to friends & family with the proceeds going to the foundation, which led me to making plant related merchandise. I signed up for my first market in LA and the night before I randomly made a handful of plant hangers. After selling out of the plant hangers and plant arrangements, I had my aha moment quickly shifted gears scraping the merchandise and focusing on my arrangements and plant decor. Taking that leap of faith, led me down a road that shaped my business into what it is today. Before the shutdowns you would find us at Artist & Fleas, Smorgasburg, Rosebowl Flea Market, and all the festivals. You can now find us at Playa Vista Farmer’s Market on Saturdays 9-2pm & and when Smorgasburg reopens on July 4th, Sundays 10-4pm.
What should our readers know about your business?
I am a mobile plant gift shop, planting hope for the children of the J.A. Clermont Foundation. Proceeds from every purchase go towards meals, school costs, clothing, vocational training and other needs of the children. I create lasting cactus/succulent/dried flower arrangements for every occasion and make modern plant hangers & concrete plant decor for the home. With applicable dried flower blooms as our signature touch. My business is a reflection of all the wonderful art forms I’ve learned throughout my years studying interior design, floral design and photography. Paying attention to detail is so important to me, not because it has to be perfect, but because I love love love making people happy through my work. Watching my customer’s exuberance and love for my creations, never gets old. I’ve witnessed more happy dances than I can count. That’s how you know you’ve got something special, when you’ve got people literally doing happy dances in your booth. This is why I pride myself on personally picking and growing the best plants to arrange. I truly believe this is what attracts people to my work…. also having cute miniature cactus helps. I am beyond proud of the company I’ve built, the strong client relationships I’ve sustained, and all the wonderful and amazing lessons it’s taught me and continues to teach me. Looking back, there’s not one thing I would do differently. Embracing all the struggles I’ve faced and the many sacrifices I’ve made has given me the strength and wisdom to be a more confident business owner. Taking bigger risks are not scary for me anymore.
Easy? Im not sure what that means? Owning a small business and homeschooling my children has been anything but. I haven’t met one business owner who said it was easy, even those without kids. Blood, sweat and tears is an understatement. You know what’s easy? Quitting, which has never been an option for me. Holding on strong to your purpose is how you will overcome the struggles during tough times. If 2020 has taught us anything its perseverance. If I can leave the readers with anything to take with them, it is to embrace the struggle in anything. The magic is in the struggle, so don’t try and find an easier way around it.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Oh this is fun! I’ve been dreaming of a week long staycation with my friends since I started my business. There are so many wonderful things to do and hidden gems to seek out in LA. I would fill our mornings up with hikes at the Santa Monica stairs, a beautiful ocean view hike in Mt. Temescal where you’ll find a hidden waterfall, a wine-themed hike through Malibu Wines, and walks thru the many secret gardens. I can’t tell you because it’s a secret. We would brunch hard at all my favorite spots, Cafe Vida & Bianca’s in Culver City, Fia’s in Santa Monica, and Openaire in DTLA. Then I would treat them to a day trip driving up the coast to Santa Barbra or to Antelope Valley California to see the Poppy Reserve fields, a MUST do if you’re in the LA area. If you do go please always remember to be respectful by staying on trail, not laying on the fields or trampling the flowers. Nights would be filled with watching the sunset on the beach, rooftop dinners, concerts at the Hollywood Bowl. On the weekend, I would give them a tour of all my favorite craft & food vendors at my markets so they could shop and eat till they drop. Oh what a dream that would be!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Small business success comes from the collective support of friends family and community. I could not do what I do with out the help of others. I have to give thanks to my parents for instilling in me the true value of helping others, hard work and giving me the tools I needed to start my own business. Watching them and all the hard work they put into their businesses laid the foundation for mine. But can we talk about my husband for a minute? This man deserves all the credit and recognition in the world. He’s the glue that holds the house up. He wears all the hats I need him to wear even when he doesn’t want to. To have a partner that supports my crazy plant lady dreams, is everything. I love you Herve Clermont thank you for all that you do!