Plant shop Mahonia creates safe shopping experience, works to create diversity and community

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by Sarah Gardiner
she / her / hers
nannygoatbooks@gmail.com

Walking into Mahonia is like walking into the Architectural Digest version of the house you’ve always dreamed of showing off. It is beautiful and inviting. It is aesthetic yet homey. And, on top of everything, the team has managed to create a space that is inclusive both for customers and staff — a mission Bridget Davis, founder and owner, credits for much of their success.

Based out of the NuLu neighborhood of Louisville, Kentucky, the store has made a name for itself as a welcoming, safe, gorgeous space.

“When I created Mahonia 5 years ago, I never dreamed it would grow to have the presence and fan base it has,” Davis said. “From the early days of Mahonia, my approach was to hire and nurture talented people, and then get out of their way! Mahonia would not be what it is today without the folks who helped grow it.”

The team that Davis created is one of the North Stars in Mahonia’s map to success. From plant-based education to design mentality, they are there to help, and it shows in the devotion of their clientele. One customer — who lives across the country — recounted that after a single visit, she knew that Mahonia would be her first call for deliveries to Louisville-based friends and has used them for birthdays and Christmas gifts ever since.

Davis and her team have had such successful outreach, “We have been very fortunate to have built a community of plant people that love Mahonia. We have always welcomed folks of all stripes, and our Mahonia community — or ‘Plant Family’ as we like to call them — is a wonderfully diverse group.”

Growth has always been an integral part of the queer community, and perhaps that’s why plants, flowers, and Mahonia specifically mean so much to us in Louisville. Blossoming is a beautiful act — no matter peony or person.

“I feel that our Mahonia community knows that we love and support them, and that we welcome ALL folks,” Davis said.

Diversity, especially within the workplace, takes work, however.

Davis said, “Our approach from the beginning has always been to warmly welcome all folks, create a beautiful, inviting, and safe place to shop and educate, educate, educate!“ 

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, small businesses were faced with a choice: to find a new way of operation or shut down. While they had to cease their event-based business arm, Mahonia made one of the most heralded “pandemic business plans” in their active social media and curbside sales.

“From the beginning of the pandemic our number one goal has been to make choices that have greatest impact on the community as a whole. This is not the popular choice by any stretch (being closed for over a year was not good for business), but we aways felt, and still do feel that our choices to protect our staff and customers was also the best and safest choice for the whole community.” 

Taking care of both customers and staff is the mentality that has thankfully kept Mahonia alive in a tough year. Through their dedication to both team and costumer, they have created a home that inclusive, open, and deeply beautiful.

After almost a year of curbside pickup, Mahonia is now open for in-store shopping again (masks still required!).

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