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Saturday, June 12, 2021

UNT alumni captivate Denton residents with unique plants

Article Originally Published by  on North Texas Daily

Article Originally Published by Daijah Peterson on North Texas Daily

All local plant parents, first-time plant owners and plant fanatics can find their place at a plant shop right around the corner, True Leaf Studio. Owners and UNT alumni Michael and Taylor Bales opened the studio last February, right before the pandemic hit the United States.

Taylor said the pandemic caused a major shift in their original ideas for the studio.

“Initially, the plan for True Leaf was to be more of an event space [with] classes, workshops, that kind of thing,” Taylor said. “But, with COVID, you know, we just sort of had to pivot. Retail wasn’t really the main focus initially, but that’s where we find ourselves right now, and that’s fine. It’s going well — it’s keeping us afloat.”

The pandemic may have halted some set activities for customers, but it has not stopped them from coming around. The studio has no-contact pickup and delivery. If customers would like to shop around, the studio accepts one individual or group at a time to allow customers the experience of being in the studio while taking safety precautions.

The studio has a wide range of unique tropical house plants such as the Mini Monstera, the Zebra Plant and the Pothos, but its most popular product, and what sets them apart from other plant shops, is its “do-it-yourself” terrarium bar.

“We have everything from bones to crystals to mosses, rocks, all kinds of stuff to put in there,” Taylor said. “The main thing I think about the terrarium bar is we keep bringing in new pieces of glass, and we try to make things unique. It’s a way to have something to do safely [and] uniquely — you can make it your own.”

True Leaf Studio customers are typically active plant shoppers who own several leafy greens. From the many shops they have attended, some find a deep connection with True Leaf Studio which makes them regulars.

Calligrapher and Dallas resident Jessica Salmeron said she has to stop by the shop every time she visits Denton.

“Once you get in there, [Taylor] will ask, ‘Do you have any questions?’” Salmeron said. “She’s very excited about what she does, and it kind of radiates off to you, so then you get excited about the plants. You’re going to get that personalization from her to explain everything about this plant that you didn’t know about yet.”

Local freelance musician and educator Gaby Alvardo said the studio met her requirements in a plant shop while dealing with a pandemic.

“I’m a part of the at-risk population, and I love plants,” Alvardo said. “They’re all over my apartment. I was trying to find a place that was offering the possibility of having either curb pickup or one-on-one appointment kind of situation, and they seemed to be a local place, which I loved, that was offering those kinds of services.”

True Leaf Studio customers appreciate the comfortable experiences they get from the second they enter the shop.

“The treatment has been very personalized,” Alvardo said. “I have felt really welcomed. I felt like, in the other nurseries around here, I don’t know if it’s because they’re bigger, it has been less about me and what I need and more about them pushing me to get things.”

Years before opening the shop, the couple grew produce and flowers in their backyard to sell at the community market. After leaving the town to pursue other careers, Michael and Taylor returned to downtown Denton to participate in its culturally growing community.

“When the revival was happening downtown and things were coming in that were new and exciting, and there was culture, music and it was getting so much better than it was even when we were in college,” Taylor said. “We were like, ‘We’ve got to get back,’ like, it’s happening, you know, what we were kind of hoping for before.”

Since returning home and opening the studio, the couple made it their mission to create a safe zone for the local community to learn, participate and have fun. They have several plans lined up once it is safe for everyone to go out and life is back to normal.

“What I see coming in the future, though, is everything outdoors,” Taylor said. “We have this big parking lot, and we have really big spool wheels that we have converted into tables. So, I see everybody at their own tables, you get your own set of tools, you get your own set of, whatever it is if it’s a terrarium workshop, [or] if it’s a bonsai workshop. We are going to bring in box lunches. [We are] trying to tie in some other local businesses as well and try to make it a little bit special.”

Featured Image: Co-owner of True Leaf Studio, Taylor Bales, stands in front of a shelf covered in jars and plants on Jan. 23, 2021. Image by John Anderson

Source: North Texas Daily

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