Keeping a plant alive in a tiny New York apartment is hard; opening a business during a pandemic is harder. Fortunately, Emily Bauer at Jungle NYC (145 Wythe Ave.) makes the latter look simple while selling plants that are more than just easy to care for — they can, in turn, care for us.
Emily’s new plant shop focuses on greenery, and also the health benefits that plants can provide. Jungle NYC launched in September and offers plants aplenty along with wellness drinks, pots, and more. Greenpointers spoke with Emily about opening a small business in 2020 and how the neighborhood can support her and her mission.
Greenpointers: Like so many, you opened up your storefront in the middle of this pandemic. Can you share part of that experience?
Emily Bauer: Overall working in the pandemic has been challenging, but we don’t really know anything different, so it’s certainly shaped how we do business. We really appreciate every person who walks through the door. We get all sorts of messages about plants and are happy to be able to help plant parents.
Affordability is really important to us — wellness should be accessible, plus many people don’t have money to throw around right now. We try to make well-designed planters and lovable plants easy for our customers. The pandemic has definitely informed how we operate and has made us a very nimble operation. We keep things quite lean and only get what resonates with our customers. Also, like everyone we’ve had to be quick on our feet to adapt to and anticipate changes in New York City regulations. I feel like we’ve learned really valuable lessons from forming during the pandemic, and after we make it through this winter we should have a bright future. Being formed in tough conditions makes you strong by nature.
Jungle is more than just a plant store: it also emphasizes wellness, and the wellness of caring for plants. I can totally relate — I have a fiddle leaf fig, corn plant, peace lily, aglaonema, donkey’s tail, and pothos that I care for and are getting me through this moment. Can you talk about your store’s ties to wellness?
I started Jungle NYC with the hope of sharing the benefits of plants and wellness products with others during the pandemic and beyond. I noticed my daily life noticeably improved with simple things like caring for plants and having beautiful things around me. I feel wellness culture can be a little esoteric and kind of alienating at times.
It was really important to us to find a way for more people to relate to and benefit from its effective elements. We like design and the freshness of Brooklyn-style a lot and saw an opportunity to make wellness more relatable by merging city-style with wellbeing that’s cultivated through caring for plants and trying wellness products. As devoted North Brooklyn residents, we wanted to share this with our community at a time when we all need balance and simple joys more than ever.
Not that we can pick favorites, but do you have an especially beloved plant, pot, or item in your shop?
That’s a hard one…it’s constantly changing as we discover and bring in new products to the store. I’m a landscape architect and designer by trade. I curate our selection and like all our planters, plants, and wellness products. That being said, of course I have some favorites.
Within our collection of planters, there are a few that stand out to me. Plant care can be challenging for anyone, so we looked everywhere for nice self-watering planters. We’ve found some beautiful jesmonite ones from a small Belgian maker. They’re beautiful and make sure things get the perfect amount of water. We also have 3D-printed ones that are super unique and completely biodegradable. They’re printed from wood and corn-resin, so they don’t produce any microplastics or waste during production. I love that plants are growing in a re-configured plants, there’s something nice about that.
You also offer wellness drinks…
At Jungle we sell a selection of wellness drinks from select makers that have proven efficacy and high-quality ingredients. The drinks generally fall into three uses: adaptogens for balance, nootropics for productivity, and euphoric’s for chilling out. These products are meant to help balance your day out, they’re basically tools to fine-tune your mood. All the products have passed our test, but everyone’s a little different, so we have small packets of all the products for people to test out and find their own favorites.
What are you looking forward to, personally or professionally, in the new year?
Simple: hanging out closer than six feet with friends. I’ve learned a lot from this year, but am ready for us all to regroup. I’m also expecting a baby, so that’s a big little thing to look forward to. I love Brooklyn and New York and am hoping the city will bounce back and flourish soon.