Marly Garden founder at event

Founder's Notes March 2024

Welcome to the first installment of 2024’s Marly Grower’s Club. I am happy to have you here and excited to see what this year has in store.

It has unfortunately been 558 days since I last properly wrote for The Grower’s Club.

I would like this note to provide an overview of what we’ve been up to before going deeper into these stories in the weeks to come. It took us nearly 3 years to get Marly to where she is today and I couldn’t be more proud of the journey and everyone that has been along for the ride with me. The last year and a half have felt like a massive blur as I try to hammer out and speed up the pace in which we distribute our product and more quickly get conversations from pitch to conversion.

Here’s a quick look at where we’ve been since August of 2022 and where we’re at today.

*Please note that this is a condensed version of a longer post living on Substack. You can see the complete version, including our past year in photographs, here


Marly planters in hotel


In this last month alone, I’ve traveled to Las Vegas, done a half dozen installs in the LA area, got my first flat tire while doing so, received inquiries and invitations from business owners all the way from Taipei to San Francisco and shipped our first Marly to the United Kingdom. 

However, this momentum has been a constant battle. 

For those unfamiliar with Marly and our journey, we essentially set out to create an easier way for people to grow plants at home during the pandemic. This snowballed into creating an easier way to grow plants for where you work and where you leisure, and help you create the green space of your dreams. 

Think of Marly as your very own set of living LEGOS.

We began to explore the idea of creating a stackable, modular, self-watering planter during the pandemic as people began growing more. The biggest thing that we wanted to improve was the grower’s experience. Since we began fulfilling orders, we’ve received incredible reviews from growers all over the world. Why?

  1. Easy to Use: Marly provides our growers with all of the essentials they need to grow plants, without the stress that comes with your traditional planters (i.e. watering, ongoing maintenance, fragility and mold)

  2. Durability: Our materials have been proven and tested to be weather resistant, UV resistant and food-safe, making Marly more dynamic than any other product currently in the category.

  3. Endless Possibilities: We’ve seen clients everywhere begin to stack and customize their gardens like no other product has allowed. We’ve even been described as “your very own set of living LEGOS.”


*Check out our Year in Photos via Substack here 


(I.) What’s Going Well

The Pivot to B2B — While Marly began as a direct-to-consumer product, since making the shift to an enterprise solution, we’ve been able to not only get in front of more clients but have adapted our offering to service those with dozens, if not hundreds, of plants. 

We realized that businesses and organizations were craving an answer to plant care that could scale with their needs. Whether it’s an office, a hotel, or a retail space, Marly’s enterprise solution ensures that every plant thrives, no matter the quantity.

Partnerships — Since receiving our initial inventory in August, Marly has been asked by some of our favorite designers and brands to collaborate on indoor and outdoor garden setups. Designers like Stephen Kenn and brands like Dometic and LifeHouse Hotels. 

We’ve also been able to send products to our favorite creators like Maryah Greene, resulting in awesome feedback from both themselves and their communities.

Customization — Since we’ve begun shipping products, we’ve received several inquiries about materials and customization options. As a result, we now offer custom engravings on the legs of our planters, which has had an impact on how people view Marly within the context of their brand’s green initiatives and sustainable values. 

We’ve also begun sampling several “skins” that Marly planters can encase inside, allowing us to explore even more custom and materials options for our planters.

In-Person Events — There’s something special about face-to-face interactions, especially now that we have the physical product with us. 

Whether it’s at our local market, a pop-up event, or a community gathering, being able to meet our customers in person and share our passion for Marly has been truly rewarding. 

At these events, we’ve had the chance to engage with people from all walks of life and show them firsthand what Marly is about. From demonstrating the ease of plant care, to highlighting the beauty and versatility of our products, these interactions have been invaluable in helping our customers understand the impact that Marly can have on their lives. 

But it’s not just about making sales; it’s about building relationships and creating experiences. I love nothing more than seeing the excitement on our customers’ faces as they discover the possibilities that Marly brings to their homes, offices, and lives.

Event planners, creatives, organizers - my messages are open! Let’s see how we can work together.

Client Cataloging (with local communities) — Moving base to California has been an absolute game-changer for us. Not only are we surrounded by incredible landscapes and endless sunshine, but we’ve also been blown away by the warmth and enthusiasm of our neighbors and fellow entrepreneurs. 

Here in Santa Barbara, we’ve been fortunate to connect with a bunch of talented folks — designers, architects, and other brand owners and founders — who share our passion for green living and beautiful spaces. 

The support and encouragement we’ve received from our local community has been nothing short of amazing, and it’s been inspiring to collaborate and learn from each other along the way. 

From brainstorming sessions over coffee, to late-night chats at local events, we’re grateful for every opportunity to connect and grow together. Together, we’re building something special, and we couldn’t do it without the incredible support of our Santa Barbara community.

If you’re based in California, let me know, I’m always down to grab a coffee.


*Check out our Year in Photos via Substack here 


(II.) What are We Still Figuring Out?

Product x Service — As we continue to grow and evolve, we’re exploring ways to provide our customers with the best possible experience, from purchase to maintenance. Whether it’s plant care tips, periodic check-ins, or personalized support, we’re committed to finding the right solution that adds value and enhances the Marly experience.

Our Sales Process — We are exploring different strategies and approaches to ensure that we’re effectively reaching our target audience and delivering the Marly experience to as many people as possible. From prospecting to closing deals, we’re constantly learning and iterating to find what works best for us. It’s a journey, but we’re committed to finding the right path forward.

Team and Hires — We’ve been grappling with the challenge of identifying the right combination of team members and determining what aspects of our operations we need to contract out. 

As we grow, finding the perfect balance between in-house expertise and external support has been a bit of a puzzle. From marketing to logistics to customer support, every piece of the puzzle plays a crucial role in our success. 

We’re exploring different options, weighing the pros and cons, and taking steps to ensure that we have the right talent and resources in place to drive Marly forward. It’s a complex process, but we’re striving to find the right combination that sets us up for success in the long run.

Retail — We’re currently in the process of figuring out how our product shows up in stores. As we explore different retail opportunities, we’re focused on finding the right partners and channels that align with our brand values and mission. 

From boutique shops to larger retailers, we’re exploring all options to ensure that Marly stands out on the shelves and delivers an exceptional experience to customers. It’s an exciting journey, but also a challenging one as we navigate the complexities of retail and work to find the best approach for our product.

How much Marly Can Save You + LEED Certifications — Marly is on a mission to figure out how our product can save you money and help you achieve your sustainability goals. 

By reducing water consumption, minimizing maintenance costs, and improving air quality, Marly can help you cut down on expenses and boost your bottom line. 

But it’s not just about saving money — it’s also about making a positive impact on the environment. With our sustainable practices and eco-friendly materials, Marly is a key player in helping buildings achieve LEED certification and meet their sustainability targets.

We plan to produce plenty of content and guidance to our customers on how they can live and work sustainability with their Marly planters, so stay tuned!


*Check out our Year in Photos via Substack here 


(III.) What’s Not Working?

As far as the downsides go? I couldn’t find much to write home about from a customer standpoint. However, we are still figuring out a few pieces.

Cold Calling / Emails — While we’ve been working hard to reach out to potential partners and clients, we’ve run into a challenge. It’s been tough finding the right point-person at all of these different companies. Navigating the organizational structure and finding the decision-makers has proven to be a bit trickier than we anticipated. But fear not — we’re not giving up. We’re exploring alternative strategies and doubling down on our efforts to connect with the right people. From networking events to targeted LinkedIn outreach, we’re leaving no stone unturned in our quest to find the right partners for Marly.

As always, we consider community to be at the core of Marly, so if you know of anyone who would benefit from Marly products in their lives, please don’t hesitate to put us in touch!

Shipping — Shipping can get expensive, especially when you’re dealing with larger items like ours. But instead of letting this obstacle hold us back, we’re getting creative and finding ways to work around it. From negotiating rates with carriers to exploring alternative shipping methods, we’re committed to finding solutions that keep costs down without compromising on the quality of service we provide to our customers.

Showroom(s) — Our showroom just dropped a bombshell on us. They’ve decided to drop their decor and accessory brands, which unfortunately includes Marly. With this in mind, we’re pivoting and looking for another commercial showroom that can represent our product and help us reach new customers. I’m confident that we’ll find the right partner who shares our vision and values, and who’s excited to showcase Marly to their clientele.

Again, any introductions to friends or contacts that could benefit from showcasing Marly products in their workshop, showroom, store, bar, restaurant etc. are welcome and much appreciated.


(IV.) Objectives + Key Results (Goals this Week)

  • Following up with client we did installs for last week + contacts made at the KBIS Trade-Show

  • Shooting Marly Catalog and new Product Images - see behind the scenes first on our IG 

  • Checking in and being vocal with our Facebook Groups

  • Drop off Product to Commercial Clients in LA

  • Kicking off Marly Grow Club, our weekly newsletter including plant care advice, company updates, entertaining content and the things inspiring me right now. We want to build an industry leading community. Sign up for free here. 

  • Cold Calling / Emails — Sourcing New Retail Vendors heading into Spring

  • Sampling our First Leather Shells for our Product

  • Aggregating UGC Content from our Creators

  • Brainstorm around new Marly Website

  • Identifying and Interviewing New Supply Chain Partners


*Check out our Year in Photos via Substack here 


(V.) Product

Our goal is to get users to begin using Marly planters as wall dividers, seamlessly blending nature into the architectural fabric of a room. 

They’re more than just a planter; they’re a statement piece, an element of design that transforms the ambiance of any space.

However, our customers have been using Marly planters as single elements, adding depth and character to their environments. From office spaces to residential interiors, Marly has had the chance to bring a touch of greenery that elevates the aesthetic and fosters a sense of tranquility.

What’s truly inspiring is seeing our customers experience the joy of bringing plants into their spaces for the very first time. With Marly, plant care becomes effortless, and the opportunity to cultivate a green oasis becomes accessible to all.

So, whether our customers are looking to redefine their space with a touch of nature, create visual interest with architectural elements, or simply bring the beauty of plants into their life, Marly is here to help them grow and flourish.


(VI.) Growth

This first quarter marks the beginning of our fourth year with Marly. This time last year, I was working nomading while letting Marly take me where she needed me to go, and freelancing as an experiential producer for an agency based in New York. 

Since then, we have traveled to China to QC, designed packaging, ideated and produced the unboxing experience, received the product and shipped it to over 500 households. 

Do I think the pace could be faster? Yes, but that would require cash injection. 

My most considerable fear surrounding a cash injection remains the expected “growth at all costs”. This I do not want. 

I feel we are moving at a healthy pace and can take our time to do things more diligently than if we had to meet outside KPIs after funding. 

That being said, I am not closed off to investment. However, I would need to explain the desire to keep moving at our pace and diligently doing things.


*Check out our Year in Photos via Substack here 


(VIII.) Conclusion

Thank you for reading this Marly’s Grower Club Huddle — It has been an incredible journey to write and I’m always thrilled to share longer-form pieces with our community.

Thank you for reading and helping get the word out about the Grower Club and Marly!

Any questions or insight you may have? Please don’t hesitate to reach out. I’d love to hear from you and will do my best to answer in a way that makes sense!

Have a great week.


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