By owner Hayley.
In June 1989, I was born to hard working parents Tina and Phil. Tina was a nurse, and Phil was a salesman. I was one of three and the five of us lived a happy, quiet life in a show home in Thornbury near Bristol.
One day, aged 11, my world was shattered when my parents announced they were to split. My dad went off to live in a run-down flat in Newport, closer to where his business was based at the time. The rest of us moved to another house in Thornbury, where everything was just a little harder.
Suddenly, money worries were a thing and I saw my parents in situations I never wanted my own kids to have to experience. This was why at the end of school, despite my art teacher begging me to take my A* forward to A Level, I refused and chose a course in Software Development.
I couldn’t bear the thought of not ‘making money’ in the future. Of not having a ‘decent career’ or ‘succeeding’ in life and ending up divorced like my parents (they did get back together 10 years later, but that's a story for another time...).
So, I embarked on 10 years of work in the IT industry. I hated it from the moment I started. I developed severe muscle problems in my back and neck through anxiety, in turn giving me crippling migraines whenever I was dehydrated. I survived on caffeine, long working hours, and boozy nights out, furthering my chronic dehydration and making me hysterically depressed.
Upon graduating with a first in Business Information Systems, I had moved to London to work for Accenture, a global consultancy. I hated that too and moved on to work as Solutions Architect for the Natural History Museum, thinking my environment was my problem. Nothing changed so I moved back home to Bristol and got a Project Management job for a large software house on Bond Street. I rented a flat in Easton, struggled with relationships both personal and professional, and had a slow burning breakdown over the course of a year.
The idea of Mint had been in the back of my mind for years. I yearned to make my own decisions and try my hand at doing something of my own rather than conforming to lunch hours and uncomfortable office attire. It was always a café, or a food truck, but always called Mint. I am a total home bird and adore the West Country and its accent. That’s f**king mint, we’d say to each other growing up, about anything that we thought was cool.
When I finally left the IT world behind in early 2018, it was all I could think about. In London I had started getting into houseplants, and with my partner at the time we started collecting them and filling our little flat in Wotton under Edge. Wild Leaf in Bristol was our regular stop off and a huge source of excitement for me.
I considered a café with houseplants in it, but I didn’t want to clean up people’s dirty plates all day. I just wanted to play with plants and share my experiences with people.
My mum, Tina, had previously ran a wool shop in Thornbury, and quite fancied giving it another go. We found an old bric-a-brac store on the high street in Wotton that was undergoing redevelopment and booked a viewing. From the moment we walked in we had a very special feeling and signed up to it there and then.
And so, 24 Long Street was born. We originally split the shop in half and had Mint on one half and LoobyLou Yarns on the other. This was epic. Mum and I ran the shop together, I learned about wool to serve mum’s customers when she wasn’t around, and mum learned all about houseplants to serve mine. Some of the friends we made during this time are friends to this day and will be for life.
The corporate world however had left me with a condition. I was constantly trying to progress. I thought more shops and a bigger empire would be the only way to succeed. My problem was I was still trying to succeed and not just be good at what I do. Not only did I buy a house and have a baby with my then partner, but I also decided to open a second shop at the same time. We opened LoobyLou Yarns and Mint in Thornbury in August 2019, about two weeks before I gave birth. I didn’t stop the entire time I was pregnant and had no idea how I was going to run the business with a new-born either.
It turns out having a new business and a new baby at the same time is a very difficult thing to do! Then, six months after Rae was born, Covid hit us. In August 2020 my niece Zoey died at age 5, then my relationship ended. By the time that year came to an end, I was a metaphorical puddle on the floor.
Fast forward two years and a ton of therapy later, we have finally landed in what I feel to be our forever home. We have one shop, in my favourite place in the world, Easton in Bristol. I am still learning how to focus on what we do rather than how we are doing, and I have to constantly remind myself why I started this journey in the first place.
And the answer to that question? Is because I love plants. I love their beauty, the energy they bring to people and places, I love the quirkiness of their differences and how to grow them. I want to spread this love throughout the entire world. And that, is why I do what I do.
As of writing this, sat in an Airbnb on Dungeness beach in July 2022, I hope to bring Mint to as many people as I can. We have a fantastic team of similar plant loving people who want nothing more than to help you grow and thrive during your houseplant journey. Because it is a journey. They are living things, not possessions, which need specific care and attention. The reward however is huge, and we want every single person we come across to feel the same too.