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HOUSEPLANTS 101! with Candice of THE FOX DEN

Are you a houseplant murderer that wants to leave their
cruel past behind?
Perhaps you've tried, but... you just don't know how?

Read on dear friends & freaks, this article can help you!

I got to talking with killer queen & plant guru, Candice Bertalan, of THE FOX DEN.
For those of you located in Austin, TX - you get to experience
the beauty firsthand, so go check that sh*t out.
For the rest of us, we get to turn green with envy (hehe)
drinking up the major houseplant eye candy she shares daily via her shop.
I just kept seeing her feed and saying HOW THE F*CK DOES SHE
KEEP EVERYTHING SO BEAUTIFUL // NOT DEAD?
So, I decided to write her and ask...



Q
 - Okay, so when did you fall in love with plants? Have you always had a special love for the house plant + succulent kind? I have a feeling you were that dreamy housemate that would turn a shitty rental into a lush bohemian dream. Am I right? Are you that woman?

A - Hello! First, thank you so much for asking me to do this interview!
My love for plants and gardening definitely started as a child. My Grandmother would watch all the children in the family after school everyday and she had a big incredible garden. That was how she spent most of her time and me being the Capricorn I am always preferred the quiet solitude of tending to the garden over playing with my brother and cousins!
Once I moved out of my family home to SF when I was 17 I was always in super tiny apartments and definitely lacked the space and light I wanted for a lush home. I always felt something was missing...  So I decided one day to save and move to Austin TX (where I had never been)! I desperately wanted a house with a porch and a yard! Every place I've lived since I've been in Austin has had as many plants around me as I can!



Q - What is your mission with The Fox Den? When did you decide to ditch out on "the real world" and start living your dream? Did a specific event catalyze that decision?

A - My ideas for TFD have always been pretty much to create a space that feels like you've walked into a dreamy little world filled with lush plants, plants that look like they're from another planet (cacti/succulents) and all the other wonderful things I can find to make your environment a bit more magical everyday. Pretty much I want a space with everything I love!
Starting TFD actually happened very naturally when one day it just occurred to me that I could turn what I love doing into my job! I had been a bartender for years which luckily left my days free to garden & then transition into making arrangements and custom pieces for people and doing markets/pop ups. 
One day my friend and I had coffee and we discussed her moving her business into a new location, Soon we were discussing a shared space! My first brick & mortar was a shared location with Laced With Romance and RVRB Records. I was so beyond happy to have a space to begin creating the shop I'd daydreamed of for so long!



Q - Okay, lets talk plants. HOUSEPLANTS 101. GO. Name your favorite 5 plant friends that are easy indoors for the plant challenged. Give us a bit of reason why you pick each one too! 

A -
I LOVE...
Euphorbia Trigona / African Milk Tree, Not only are they super striking and interesting visually but they are hearty and super easy to care for.
Philodendron Monstera, because they are obviously irresistible! For all the cacti I can't get enough of I love super green lush vibes and a Monstera packs just that! 
Philodendron Selloum, for the same reasons as Monstera but with a very prehistoric vibe.
Sansevieria / Snake Plant / Mother in Laws Tongue, one of the easiest plants to care for and in a variety of color variations & amazing designs! They are also on the NASA list of top air purifying plants! Every home should have them!
Pitcher Plants, I love the tropical green leaves and amazing little carnivorous pitchers! they are just beautiful.
These are all very classic house plants for good reason! Also.. lots of Ivy, Air plants.... I could really keep going!



Q - Keeping plants, ALIVE, inside seems to be a big challenge for people. We all want that dreamy abode with vines hanging and happy perky plants abound but its hard to know exactly what they want inside. Can you give us some pro tips on how to keep indoor plants happy? 

A - To be completely honest.. I never enjoy killing a plant but it happens to everyone! Don't get discouraged! Either you get the plant again and don't make the same mistakes twice or decide to go in a different direction with plant choice. 
I've found that for my lifestyle I try to keep plants that don't need more than weekly watering. Making sure you have the proper lighting for the plant is huge! Sometimes we want really amazing plants that just can't thrive in the environment we have to offer.. Don't get them! There are other plants that will be happy to be your housemate ;) 
I've also found that when I have a large collection of plants going that its easier if I keep plants that are on a similar water cycle closer together. Makes it less confusing to remember. 



Q - Can you give us the lowdown on the science of plant placement in the home? Are some areas better than others? Are some areas major death zones?

A - Good question, and I think it totally depends on the space. Most often near windows and good light is going to be key! If you have natural light through the home a lot of tropicals are good further from the windows with filtered light..If plants like moisture & humidity consider putting them in the bathroom. I think understanding your space and choosing the plants accordingly is everything.
No light = death zone! I have so many people want to buy plants for rooms without windows and I always tell them no the plant will die. Though there are plants that do well with low light! 



Q - You've got some seriously vibrant air plants in The Fox Den. How do you do it? How do they function? What do they need? 

A - Thank you! I'm obsessed with Air Plants/Tillandsia! They are actually super easy to care for.. they do need good indoor light & a weekly soak for 15 minutes. They will also love a bit of misting through the week too. Air Plants are so interesting and eye catching, and add great texture to any indoor garden.



Q - Whats your favorite part of running The Fox Den?

A - Everything. I absolutely love being my own boss, being in a room full of plants and beautiful things everyday, searching for what I'll add to the shop next, talking with so many different people about plants and getting to know so many wonderful neighborhood folks... I get excited about all of it!

Q - How do you go about finding plants for The Fox Den? What makes you pick certain plants? Is it a feeling or a science? Perhaps both?

A - I would say mostly feeling, I choose my favorite plants to go in the shop! But even with that I'll spend a good amount of time at my greenhouses picking out exactly which ones will come with me. I rarely have plants delivered that I haven't hand selected. There is method/science to it too.



Q - Can you shed light on the evolution of The Fox Den? I know you just remodeled a space and moved locations, what gave you the mojo to make the jump?

A - I did! I just moved to a new location, still in East Austin, which is becoming everything I imagined TFD to be! I have over twice as much space, lots of light, a really great neighborhood of plant loving people, and wonderful neighbors and friends Figure 8 Coffee Purveyors right next to me! I truly couldn't be happier!
The move was mostly decided because the shared shop we were in was quickly becoming too small for both of our businesses. I found the new shop & they stayed and were able to grow and expand there! 



Q - Owning a physical shop is hard in a digital age. What made you take that route?
Share some of the benefits of owning a storefront vs. a webstore with us!

A - Honestly, I'm terrible with computers and technology! I also feel like with plants most of the joy is in picking it up, seeing it & falling in love! It just made more sense for me to have a storefront.



Q - As a business owner, I know it can look pretty "peachy" from the outside but running a business alone is hard ass work! Can you tell us a bit about the challenges, the obstacles and also what makes it all worth it at the end of the day? 

A - Hehe.. ain't that the truth! It is absolutely one of the most difficult things I've ever done. I am someone who is most happy staying busy and productive so it works for me. But yes, as a one woman show I do not really get days off, there is a ton of responsibility that sits only on me, I wouldn't survive without my notebook of constantly evolving todo lists! Most days its wonderful.. and some days I just need a tropical vacation! I truly love it all but for anyone considering opening a brick & mortar shop expect to work hard and for it to become your life! 

 
Q - Do you feel you've been presented with greater challenges as a female business owner? How have you felt your gender impact your success? Is there any advice you can give to fellow females that you could've benefited from hearing before you started this journey? Or some words of wisdom you live by still?

A - I would say definitely. As a woman we are in so many situations where being strong and knowledgeable can be taken as being "cold" or a "bitch" (pardon), yet on the other side of that we can be seen as weak, incapable, unintelligent and people will dismiss you or try to walk all over you. This is a very good reason why in life & especially business I try to be prepared and sure of what I want first, then you just make sure the things you can't budge on you don't and the things you can compromise on you're comfortable with.  I have been in business conversations that I know if I was a man would never happen. I am a proud feminist, I love being a female business owner and I think it does impact my business and its success because that's powerful! 



Q - Any tips for people trying to ditch their day job and manifest their dream job?

A - As I mentioned, I'm a Capricorn and I don't do most things without good thought & planning. I know it doesn't sound as romantic as people want it to be but if you actually want to ditch your day job and manifest your dreams it's important to be prepared! Work that day job till you've come up with a good business plan and hopefully a little savings.. when the time is right hopefully you'll have yourself positioned for success!

Q - What, beyond plants, are you passionate about? What moves you, frees you and gets your blood flowing? 

A - I love water & swimming, all animals, music, food/cooking, traveling!


 Follow THE FOX DEN on Instagram at @the.fox.den 

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