There is something therapeutic about an indoor plant. It just sits there in its pot, serenely minding its own business, occasionally swaying to the soft breeze coming from the window it has been conveniently placed below. You know, because of the light. Plants need a lot of it. They also need water. And fresh air. And an occasional fondle. I know this because it is on the plant manual of the Dracaena I bought from Vivianne Nyogoro the other day. Vivianne knows everything there is to know about houseplants. A chubbly twenty-six-year-old, she does not seem like the kind of person whose fingers could do more than just type. Her well-groomed nails look like the kind that the only tough work they ever did was scrub the dishes. But here she is, in gumboots, all soiled with her hair pulled back, as if she is in that ‘Dirt is good’ commercial. So how did this happen?
Vivianne majored in Events and Convention Management (Yes, there is such a course) at the Technical University of Kenya. Graduates of this course are supposed to plan and manage international conferences and exhibitions across the world. You would think that landing such a job would be easy, with Kenya being the East African business capital and all. But our economy begs to differ. Therefore, Vivianne decided to enhance her value. She enrolled for a Certificate in Counselling at the East African Professional Counselling Institute (EAPCI). She was always passionate about mental health. This finally paid off, as in the summer of 2018, she landed a job at Still A Mum, an organisation that exists for the sole purpose of creating a physically and mentally healthy pregnancy journey for every young mother. As the program coordinator, her job was to organise various events across the country, a task that requires one to develop several auxiliary skills such as Graphic Design of the event programs and fliers as well as Digital Marketing of the events and programs.
In its quest to remain perpetually sustainable, Still A Mum underwent a restructure early in the year. Sadly, Vivianne’s roles were swallowed up by other positions within the organisation and she became part of an alarming yet not uncommon statistic. A young jobless graduate. It catches her by surprise. The first week at home is rather restful, in comparison to the tremendous mind-boggling responsibilities that come with an eight-to-five engagement in a busy organisation. She completes that TV show she has been stuck on the first three episodes for a while. She catches up on all the trendy topics on social media. Later in the month, bills start knocking on her door. All her savings get exhausted. Now she is broke, idle and jobless. Depression kicks in from the uncertainty of what tomorrow holds. She has to do something. She has always had an interest for interior design. And she also has a wealth of experience and is still passionate about matters mental health from her two-year stint at Still A Mum. How about I create an amalgamation of these two interests, she thinks to herself. And that is how Natural Spaces is born.
As per her mission statement, ‘Bringing the outside, in’, her goal is to create a global thriving mental health environment through the use of green spaces. She is not your ordinary roadside plant vendor. Before she transacts any business, she pays a visit to your house and examines the space. She takes measurements and assesses the conditions before advising on the most convenient plant for you to nurture. Do you have kids? Pets? On what floor is your apartment? How many windows are there? Is there a compound? Do you already have other houseplants? Ultimately, she will recommend a complete interior makeover that will create a thriving physical environment for the plant and a thriving mental environment for yourself. Call that the equilibrium of nature. And oh, she provides complimentary pebbles and soil. And a soft copy manual with directions and tips on how to take care of your new guest.
Over the past three months, Vivianne has sold over fifty plants to various people across the country. Her friends have been very supportive, with one of her besties ordering a plant from as far as Narok. Being the ambitious and visionary lady that she is, she has also landed a lucrative partnership deal with a leading corporate organisation that will see her provide an accompanying houseplant for every piece of furniture they sell. Just four months in, Natural Spaces is now paying her bills and giving her a purpose to get up each morning. She chose not to be a victim of the pandemic but to create a window of an opportunity despite getting the door slammed on her face. In the words of Mark Twain, the secret to getting ahead is getting started. And as Thomas Edison notably observed, opportunity is missed by many people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.
You may connect with Vivianne by dropping her a line via firstname.lastname@example.org or ringing her via +254762446404. Links to her socials are hyperlinked herein: