COOL FACES OF BASTET NOIR: Meet Cait Khosla, the founder of Botany Box
These past few months it seems like everyone has become a plant person, even those people who can’t keep a plant alive even if their life depended on it. You know the same ones who claim that plants get suicidal around them whenever you visit them and find something that used to be a plant, a greenish sad little thing, pushed into a dark corner, that’s so dried out you can’t help but feel sorry for it or the ones who claim to have a “pot of doom”. Yup, apparently that’s a thing. Well now all of a sudden these people are all over Instagram planting and replanting. Maybe it’s due to the fact that we spend most of our days locked in our homes, so we subconsciously want to make the indoors resemble the outdoors, or perhaps it’s because we have more free time on our hands and plants can be quite therapeutic. Who knows really? One thing we do know for sure though is the fact that we found a company that gets even the incurable serial plant killers excited for keeping a flower alive.
Botany Box is a company, founded by our next cool face, Cait Khosla back in 2017. It delivers beautiful succulents you simply can not kill. Tenacious and hard-working, this young woman has managed to build a tight knit community on social media and turn it into a full fledged business while working another job simultaneously. How impressive is that? A true hustler, for the latest edition of Cool Faces of Bastet Noir, Cait opens up about her financial struggles while building her brand, how she has grown and evolved through the process and books that changed her life.
Who is Cait Khosla?
I’m Cait, 27 years old, and a new resident of Santa Monica, CA, but born and raised in Virginia! I’m an expert in horticulture, social media and have a strong focus in digital media marketing. Growing up, I had a big front yard full of plant beds and my mom, who is SUPER into gardening, used to make me pick weeds with her on the weekends and replant every season. At first I dreaded it, and then I found it to be quite therapeutic. From then on, I quickly established a love for plants. Before starting Botany Box, I began my career in strategic social media marketing at venture backed startups. But after leaving D.C. and moving to NYC, I began to grow Botany Box and was inspired to find a resolution for reasonably priced plants that anyone can keep to motivate them to grow their green thumb. This year I’m so excited to expand all around California, where I’m in proximity to my plant distributors, and launching additional merchandise, box options and more!
What’s your morning routine like?
Such a good question — I am a huge morning person! While I’m not a crazed gym fanatic or workout guru, I like to do a light workout in the AM on my yoga mat outside, then I grab my favorite iced espresso that I buy in bulk (just Starbucks brand — nothing crazy) I eat a huge breakfast (bacon, egg and cheese on a bagel) OR a muffin, bagel and fruit. Then — I comb through my emails and start my to-do list!
We love what you’ve done with Botany Box. Could you guide us through the process from launching the company to how you’ve been able to grow it?
I created Botany Box so everyone can easily have & care for their own collection of plants delivered to their doorstep, repotted and ready to give your indoor space that pop of energy and color. When I moved to NYC back in 2017, the idea for Botany Box really took off. I realized I couldn’t build my own green oasis in my apartment without it costing me an arm and a leg. It was so frustrating going plant shopping and coming home with a $13 succulent, so I decided to get serious about creating a solution to a problem. My mom actually named the company Botany Box, which was so sentimental, because she grew my love for plants at a really young age. Starting this company gave me a little peace, it was like I was in my front yard again with my mom growing the garden as we always did.
What are the next steps for Botany Box?
There are SO many exciting plans we have for 2020. First, we’re launching new Botany Box options to give people variety. This was first on my to-do list and we’re almost done and ready to go! People will be able to shop for plants, tote bags, enamel pins, and more! Another big goal for 2020 will be launching a newsletter, I want it to relate to more than just plants, and focus on sustainability/eco-friendly products and brands (which I’m passionate about).
Three things you wish you knew before starting out…
1. Everything does NOT have to be executed perfectly. You don’t have to have everything done right the first time. You’re going to flop 100 times, it’s life. I wish I told myself sooner that everything didn’t need to be done right now, in the moment, or else it wasn’t going to be a success.
2. Another big thing is that people think you have to stop everything else you’re doing to start a business. I’m an independent contractor (in social media) and I run Botany Box in between. While it’s no walk in the park, I think it’s a common misconception that you can’t do both and you have to commit to one.
3. You DON’T need a big social media presence, that’s one thing I strived for and am happy to have succeeded in, but it’s not something any brand or individual needs to “succeed” it should not be a benchmark by any stretch.
Biggest failure/setback in life and what you’ve learnt from it?
Oh gosh, I’d say my biggest setback is money, and that’s being completely transparent in hopes others will not let it be such a taboo. I didn’t have enough money to start Botany Box, I scraped up anythingggg I got from my paychecks, it took me A WHOLE year to pay my business partner/web developer/graphic designer back for all of his work. If anything, struggling to pay for supplies for Botany Box, or people who are helping me propel forward is also my biggest motivator. It also did not help (to start off) that I live in NYC, of course, it’s one of the most fun cities you’ll find, but I found myself having Peter Pan syndrome. I never wanted to grow up, learn to save money, say “no” to fun dinners with friends or buy expensive wine to sit and gab at a girlfriends house, solely because I was procrastinating. Most of those things held me back, ergo, prolonged my ability to save and spend for Botany Box.
Books that changed your life
I’m proud to say I’ve read more in quarantine than I ever have before — with that some of my favorites have been:
1. Make Your Bed by William H. McRaven (literally changed me)
2. You’re Not That Great by Elan Gale
3. You Are a Badass by Jen Sincero
Favorite female empowerment speech
Maya Angelou, who was the first Black woman to read a poem during a presidential inauguration in 1993 (of course I was just born — but have heard it many times over the years). She spoke about inclusion, change and optimism which rings very true, especially right now.