Happy Friday everyone! You made it to the weekend! Today we are bringing you a new series where we feature hot and trending businesses right here in Denton! Today we have someone who has created such a cult following here in Denton, people are knocking down her door just to visit! Green thumbs Taylor and Michael Bales opened up True Leaf studio with the full expectation of being a unique event venue and plant educational center here in Denton. When COVID hit in March, everything shifted. Using the power of positive thinking and diverse plant curation, True Leaf Studio has quickly become Denton’t one stop plant shop. With familiar plant varieties such as the the incredibly instagram able Fiddle Fig tree, down to the quirky pitcher plants. We had a chance to sit down with Taylor to chat about all things plants, pivoting your business, and what the future holds for True Leaf!
The glory of gardening: hands in the dirt, head in the sun, heart with nature. To nurture a garden is to feed not just the body, but the soul.Alfred Austin
TD: What made you want to open up in Denton?
Taylor: My husband and I both went to UNT in the early 2000’s and so we’ve always been here. He was a graphic designer and I was a teacher and we realized that wasn’t really the life we wanted. He started tattooing which freed up my time to do a little more of “me”. We were driving one day and saw that this space was available and said “why not!” It needed a lot of work, but it had a ton of potential. We’ve always been into plants, into gardening, and art. The space was originally going to be for classes and more about propagation, bonsai classes, and seed germinating because that’s what we are into. With quarantine though, we had to shift our focus and that’s where the plant retail started booming.
TD: How long have you been open?
T: We opened in early February, then had to close, and then opened up again for Mother’s Day. It hasn’t slowed down since we opened back up!
TD: How did you choose the name of the shop?
T: My husband came up with the name. It worked for a lot of the things we wanted to do here. The leaf for the gardening side of things and the word True because we want to be honest, positive, and straight forward. That’s kind of always how we’ve been!
TD: How do you pick the plants you want to carry?
T: We don’t want anything standard. We do carry a little bit of the easy to care for plants. Stuff that will make great gifts and things that are harder to kill. We cannot compete with big brands like Home Depot, Lowe’s, and Calloways for their pricing. They get that bulk pricing, and we can’t compete with that for the everyday houseplants. So we try to carry the one offs, the quirky, and the things that are hard to find. It just makes shopping more fun! We get shipments every week, so we always have new stuff. We also try not to do a bunch of the same thing, we try to keep it fresh and exciting because we have regulars who come in. They know they’ll see something new every week.
TD: You’ve got a great variety, and I love how much you know about your plants! For any newbies, are you able to guide people to what plant to buy?
T: We all are busy people! I have people who love to tinker with plants so I say stay away from succulents! But if you’re a forgetful waterer, you’ll want these plants over here. I used to always struggled going into plant stores and felt like I would buy something only to kill it later. I want people who come into True Leaf to feel like they can successfully care for and manage the plants they leave with.
TD: When did you get into plants and get your green thumb?
T: It’s just been since college, we have always been growing plants and food. Our first apartment we had container gardens on the first floor. We ended up taking up the whole first floor ground and built a community garden. We had cucumbers, strawberries, herbs, lots of food! People would just take what they needed when they needed it. That was our first entry into gardening. Then we bought a house with land and started our own garden to sell produce at some of the first community market’s. Michael has always been gardening though, since he was a kid he’s been growing produce.
TD: What does your at home plant collection look like? I am imagining some sort of Planterina style home!
T: Our at home plant collection is a little harder, just with the two kids, the dogs, the chickens, and all of the outdoor produce, it’s hard. We don’t keep a ton inside, just because we have the land to tend to. We have more of our “indoor collection” here at the store. It’s just easier because I am here every day so I am able to care for them here better.
TD: What’s been your favorite thing about being a shop owner in Denton?
T: Connecting with the people 100%. That’s the best part. We missed Denton so much when I was teaching. It was fun though because I got to teach, coach, and connect with my students and teachers. When I left and started working for Michael while he grew his tattoo business, we both missed that connection to the community. Up here on the square, we are able to connect and enhance the community here. There is a bigger opportunity to collaborate and really live the collaboration over competition aspect of business.
TD: denton has an amazing collaborative community that is truly unlike any other. SO you don’t just do plants here, your husband also tattoos! Have you found people are more relaxed getting tattooed here?
T: We have been very thankful to continue to work with our previous clients, and a couple of new clients. Our biggest feedback is that they really enjoy the privacy of the experience. We usually rope off the back for them so they can really feel comfortable and not be bothered, but still hear the soft music, bring a guest, and have a place for their things. Clients also joke they’re going to take a shot every time I say “bright and direct sunlight”. Michael jokes that’s our next plant shop name! But overall it’s been great for our clients.
TD: How are you guys feeling about hosting events anytime soon?
T: We are approaching this with caution. We have opened the space back up for photographers to come have their sessions here, as long as they follow social distancing guidelines. When the weather gets to be nicer, we are considering hosting outdoor classes on our patio. Everyone would have their own set of tools and materials so that way everyone can feel comfortable, while also be socially distanced in the open air. It will probably be this way for a while, but we want to ensure everyone is safe and comfortable at our events.
TD: Where can people find more about True Leaf Studio?
Feature Fridays happening every Friday in August!
You guys already know how much of my heart lies with the small businesses of Denton. That’s why I am so excited to be sharing more details on the businesses right here in Denton! True Leaf kicked off this new budding series with a bang and we will be back next Friday with another exciting business that’s been making waves here in Denton since early 2010’s! You won’t want to miss it!
But just in case you missed the other thing we did…
If you want to catch up on all things Denton, you’ll want to snag a copy of our Denton Guide that ha a complete list of Denton small businesses that you can support! It’s full of eats, drinks, shops, and more all compiled into one easy PDF! You’ll have Denton’s most complete small business directory at your finger tips. With links to everyone’s websites, addresses, and a one of a kind Downtown Denton Map, you’ll be living life like a local in no time! Be sure to tag photos of you using the guide with #DoItDenton to be reposted on our Facebook page!