A pandemic plant craze helped her pop-up grow into a permanent Long Beach shop

What started as a home-growing hobby blossomed into a bustling side-hustle for Jacqueline Estrada, owner of boutique plant pop-up, Terrasage Home.

Now, the roaming plant business is putting down roots in Long Beach with the launch of her flagship store at SteelCraft Long Beach, set to open today, Sept. 4.

For Estrada, this new chapter in her business is nothing short of surreal. For the last 18 years, Estrada has worked in clothing retail for a national children’s clothing line as a production manager.

Plants didn’t come into the picture until three years ago when she visited a Venice market and impulsively bought a Calathea, commonly known as a rattlesnake plant.

Tending to the potted flora sparked an unexpected passion for planting.

“It came about just out of pure stress, looking for something to decompress and have another connection to things,” Estrada, 42, said. “I realized this is so much fun.”

As her enthusiasm grew, she realized the selection of plants, especially indoor varieties, at general retailers was sparse. So she began growing her own collection from home, buying seedlings and cuttings from Etsy.

“I tried to keep it all very small business,” she said.

Her talent for growing prompted friends and family to commission her for small plant arrangements. In 2019 her friends encouraged her to start a pop-up at Abbot Kinney, a mile-long outdoor shopping center in Venice. Her modest stand, she said, was met with great success.

But just as she was starting to build a following, COVID-19 came and shut down the outdoor market.

“I was like, ‘Oh no, what am I going to do?’” she recalled. “But I realized that farmers markets were still open because they were providing groceries and food for people.”

She set up shop at the Cypress Farmers Market and eventually expanded to other markets in Orange and Los Angeles counties, including a holiday market at SteelCraft Long Beach.

What Estrada couldn’t anticipate was the pandemic-prompted plant craze, fueled by people stuck at home, looking for a connection to the outdoors and something to occupy their time.

“It [business] was thriving and I was very surprised,” she said.

Soon, plants were occupying all her free time—and living space. At the peak of her home-growing, Estrada said she was tending to nearly 100 plants occupying every free inch of space on her patio, bathroom and kitchenette.

“And my family was just like, ‘Oh my God, there’s plants everywhere,’” she said.

Terrasage Home sells a variety of indoor and outdoor plants. Image courtesy Jacqueline Estrada.

Eventually, demand outgrew production and now she said she sources plants from other suppliers in addition to growing from home.

Pop-ups at SteelCraft led Estrada to the owners of Goods on Orange, a shop collective where she currently rents space. But now, Estrada will have a space all her own at SteelCraft.

Patrons will find a ready variety of indoor and outdoor plants, succulents and cacti. With an emphasis on indoor plants, Terrasage’s offerings are geared more toward the trepidatious, first-time plant owners looking for low-maintenance plants, such as peace lilies and pothos varieties.

Prices range from $5 to $45, Estrada said. Potted plants about 6 to 7 inches are typically $25 to $30. The largest potted plants, about 12 inches, go for $45.

A selection of cacti and succulents from Terrasage Home. Image courtesy Jacqueline Estrada.

Terrasage will also sell home and garden goods including pots, macrame hangers, plant stands and small propagation stations. Estrada also stocks small gifts and accessories such as jewelry, hair accessories, scarves, candles and decorative pillows she sews by hand using recycled vintage fabric.

The first hundred patrons to visit during Terrasage’s grand opening on Saturday can also take home a free branded organic tote.

Estrada said she intends to keep frequenting pop-ups and farmers markets once she’s found her footing with her new shop and hopes eventually to make Terrasage Home her full-time venture as she still works for the clothing retail company.

With all her success, Estrada said she couldn’t have done it without her family, with all her three children—ages 22, 20 and 17—pitching in to help with social media, brand design and the heavy lifting.

The plants though, they’re family, too.

“They’re like a fourth child,” she said. “Some people have pets, I have children, but now it’s like the plants are just as alive.”

SteelCraft Long Beach is at 3768 Long Beach Blvd. Terrasage Home’s store will be on the street-facing pop-up space on the corner of Long Beach Boulevard and East Bixby Road. The shop will be open on Thursday through Sunday from noon to 7 p.m. with hours extending in the fall.

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Cheantay Jensen is reporter and award-winning videographer who covers entertainment, art, food and culture for the Hi-lo section of the Long Beach Post. And sometimes breaking news, you know, just to keep things interesting.