Monique Segovia, a native Floridian, moved to Denton as a newlywed in the early months of 2020. Before she could get to know her new North Texas town, the pandemic began to spread. “My husband Chris is amazing, but I didn’t have a chance to build my own community,” she said. “And my full-time job in social media marketing is remote.” With extra time on her hands, Segovia turned her hobby into a side hustle. She began selling plants. Her company, The Brown Thumb, is both a creative outlet and a means to form a network of plant-loving neighbors in Denton.
“I haven’t always been great with plants. I’ve killed quite a few, I’m not going to lie,” says Segovia. “But my mom is amazing. She’s owned this one plant since before she got married, and she still has it.” Over time, after watching family members nurture their houseplants, Segovia picked up on their techniques. Now, she says, taking care of plants is her favorite form of self-care. “My mind is always on 100, but when I’m taking care of my plants, I feel like, Monique, it’s time for you to slow down and water your plants, girl.”
Both Segovia and her husband share a love for greenery– their wedding was even held in a plant nursery in Florida. “Chris and I have a range of experience with different houseplants,” she says. “He is a big fan of snake plants. Before we got married, we had one that he did not water for months, and it’s still thriving and living its life.” The couple lends that shared knowledge to customers: “We know what will work for others based on what we’ve experienced ourselves,” she says.
The Brown Thumb’s moniker has a double meaning. “Someone with a brown thumb is someone who thinks, ‘I can’t do plants. I always kill them,’ and to that I say, that’s why we’re here!” she says. “We can help. The phrase ‘brown thumb’ is associated with something negative, and I want to turn it into something positive.”
Once a customer purchases a plant from The Brown Thumb’s booth at the Denton Farmers Market or through its online platform, they become a part of a community, says Segovia. The company’s Instagram DMs are always open for those who need assistance, and all purchases have a 30-day guarantee.
“If a customer’s plant dies, we’ll give them a new one, but we always try to diagnose them and help them first,” says Segovia. The second intention behind the name, she explains, is to lift up people of color in the plant world. “I’m a Black woman and a lot of the Black community is a part of the plant community, but that’s not really known,” she says. “So I wanted to say, we’re out here too. And other minorities are as well.”
The couple currently runs their business out of their home. “It looks insane here right now,” she says, laughing.
The Denton Farmers Market requires every vendor to offer homemade goods, so the two create their own plant vessels out of concrete and add swirls of color. “We make all of our pots the night before, and then we re-pot all the plants into them,” she says. “It’s a lot of work. We buy 300 pounds of concrete a week. And every two and a half hours, since I’m working from home, I pop all of them out of the silicone molds. Chris comes home on his break to mix more concrete. But it’s paying off, because customers really like them.”
The Segovias hope to open a brick-and-mortar in the near future, most likely in their own neighborhood. “Denton is my first love in DFW,” says Monique. “Every Saturday morning at the Farmers Market, customers ask, where’s your shop? And everyone who comes to our booth–even if they don’t buy a plant from us–is so supportive. We have people messaging us after we sell out, asking if we’ll be at the Farmers Market the following week and what we’re going to have available.”
The Brown Thumb’s booth is usually filled with easy-to-grow plants like pothos, prayer plants, and ZZ plants. The vessels and plants are sold together, with the most expensive combinations priced around $40. The Segovias also just debuted handmade propagation stations. Customers can cut their own clippings from the company’s ‘mother plants’ to propagate (grow into full-sized plants), and the Segovias are happy to demonstrate how to further propagate from home.
The Segovias dream of adding a philanthropic element to The Brown Thumb. “Our website is a .org so that we can transition down the line,” she says of thebrownthumb.org‘s URL. “We want to have classes for the community: teaching people about propagation, how to make their own pots, and so forth. We would also like to teach middle and high school students about business and about plant care. It’s always been a dream of mine to have a nonprofit.”