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Marleen Zeeman, Airplantshop:

Air plants: small but good niche product

You need to have a niche, something that you're enthusiastic about, work hard at it to make it a success. Those first conditions - that niche, enthusiasm and hard work - have been done, and you could cautiously say so has the last, the success. This was said by Marleen Zeeman, who went live with the webshop for air plants last June:

So how did this end up happening? "Almost accidentally. I was in town with friends and saw the plants in a trendy store. I've never seen them before and immediately fell in love. I then did some research. There turned out to be many kinds of them, but they turned out to be relatively unknown in the Netherlands. Because I have a background in online marketing and saw opportunities, I came up with the idea of a webshop."

The eccentric plants that we also know as Tillandsias, don't need soil, they just need to be sprayed with some (rain)water. They are fun, interesting, striking (gift) items. In any case the consumer is finding the webshop more and more. According to Marleen she is profiting from the fact that there is still a lot of media attention for the plants: through marketing organisations such as the Bloembureau Holland, but also in home and lifestyle magazines. "A plant that doesn't need soil speaks to the imagination. There are also a surprising amount of men in the customer base. I don't really have an explanation for this, although I suspect they often end up in terrariums. There also seems to be a lot of collectors and lovers." 

She imports most of the plants from Guatemala. They arrive in boxes - they don't need soil after all - which is easy. The plants originally grow on other trees or rocks, in tropical or desert areas, but of course these specimens are grown in nurseries. This is barely done in the Netherlands as we do not have the ideal temperature to grow Tillandsias.

Now it's just a matter of expanding, according to Marleen. "It's going well and it's almost a full time job for me. But we're not there yet. You have to make sure you're different, make sure your product is always in order, and never think you're there. There are always surprises on the horizon. At the moment I still have to have a day job, but the hope is that we (Marleen runs the webshop with her boyfriend) will soon be able to live off of it!"

For more information:
Airplant Shop
Marleen Zeeman
M: +31645126341
E: [email protected]

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