10 Questions with Desk Plants Founder Lawrence Hanley

10 Questions with Desk Plants Founder Lawrence Hanley

Here at Desk Plants, we love connecting with everyone who gives our plants a happy home. We thought it might be nice to give you all the same opportunity to get to know the people behind the plants starting with our Founder, Lawrence Hanley.

Hello! As you read this, please note that we are so grateful for your support so far. As the owner of the business, I want to take this opportunity to give you a peek inside my world to learn a bit more about the human side of the brand. While our small team is hard at work building this business from the ground up, I want you to know that I am always available for general questions or conversation, my email is lawrence@deskplants.com and I aim to be as approachable as I can be, no matter how big or small Desk Plants is. One of my favorite aspects of starting this business is the connection I make with so many individuals like you, please don’t hesitate to reach out with any questions, plant related or not.

I hope you enjoy my profile!

  • Have you always had a green thumb? How did your passion for plants begin?
  • No. In fact, I had what some might refer to as a plant graveyard. I always wanted to include plants into my interior spaces. I have always loved how well plants can compliment and even change a space by making it more inviting and breaking up the monotony of whites and grays so commonly seen in modern interior design. Instead of buying the same plants over and over and hoping for a new outcome, I realized that my lifestyle was only suited to a small selection of plants that can handle low light conditions and infrequent watering schedules. That’s where I started seeing some success, which led me to think that there must be more people in similar shoes, looking for specific plants that don’t require much effort or research to find/keep alive.

  • How did the idea of Desk Plants come to be?
  • I had been working in the AdTech industry for about five years, which gave me a front-row view of the E-commerce space as a whole. One budding sector was the “Online Nursery” market and while Desk Plants is certainly not the first, nor only business to ship plants nationwide, I did notice that no one was specifically focusing on the corporate consumer. Noticing the high burn out rate in tech, I wanted to create a brand that would focus on helping individuals feel happier, healthier and more fulfilled within their work environment. That is when I started to mold my initial business idea into a more focused mission to bring wellness to the workplace through hard-to-kill plants.

  • What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received when it comes to running your own business?
  • Learn to say no – I’m still learning!

  • What made you decide to put down Desk Plants’ roots in Austin?
  • I believe that Austin is one of, if not THE best place to start a consumer business. There are people from all over the country and many parts of the world living and visiting Austin. A lot of people who have left their home areas to build their life in Austin. With that comes a communal pride in Austin products which in my mind leads to people willing to support budding local brands which goes an incredibly long way in the first few months. On top of that, having such a diverse array of cultural and geographical backgrounds, you get exposed to a wide variety of opinions, likes, dislikes and feedback. This has so far allowed Desk Plants to be nimble, bring new products to market-based upon what we hear, take things off the market according to what doesn’t sell or is negatively received by people.

  • What’s the hardest part of owning your own business?
  • Time management. Hands down. If I don’t set aside specific days to meet with people or handle larger projects, I get hampered down by a thousand minor tasks that end up eating a majority of time and energy.

  • And the most rewarding?
  • Happy plant owners. What makes my day is when I sell a plant to a very hesitant customer who has had a history of killing plants and then they tag me in a post or reach out a couple of months later to show me how much their plant has grown. When I see that, I know I have converted someone into a more confident plant owner who is more likely to buy more plants (not just from Desk Plants) and create a happier personal space.

  • Being a founder can be tough - who do you listen to/read/call on when you need some inspiration?
  • My main source of inspiration is my father. He is an immigrant who came to this country with a dream to create better opportunity for himself and our family. In doing so, he started his own successful consulting business and went onto become a leader in his space. Most importantly in his journey, he carved out his own piece of paradise and is finally able to retire in the next couple of years to enjoy everything he has built in his life. Just drawing form his wisdom and hearing that it is ok to have setbacks and how to turn negatives in to positives, it goes a really long way.

  • What’s the theme song to the life of Lawrence Hanley?
  • Everything’s Right - Phish

  • If you could tell everyone in the world just one thing about Desk Plants, what would it be?
  • It isn’t you, it’s the plants you are buying. We take the work out of the equation with our selection of hard-to-kill plants.

  • What one piece of advice would you give to anyone who is considering opening their own business?
  • Do it. Don’t let the red tape of research, financial insecurity and lifestyle change discourage you if you really want it. You will sacrifice a lot, much more than you even realize before you start, you will work harder than ever before and find yourself under stress levels you never knew you could handle. If all that doesn’t scare you, then take the leap, but make sure you jump in with both feet and no hesitations, you have to REALLY want it and match that desire with the hustle, you create your own success.

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