What this plant power couple in Koreatown is doing to advocate for POC in the plant world
This is the latest in a new series we call Plant PPL, where we interview people of color in the plant world. If you have any suggestions for PPL to include in our series, tag us on Instagram @latimesplants. This interview has been lightly edited for length and clarity.
When a passion for plants and streetwear collides, you get Plant Man P — an online store, YouTube channel and popular Instagram account with more than 14,000 followers. Plant power couple Jon Perdomo (@plantmanp) and Jerrilyn Peralta (@therealplantladyp) are the brains behind the business. The duo, who met in 2016 through mutual friends, say they have been just like Bonnie and Clyde ever since.
Perdomo and Peralta, who live in Koreatown, have a plethora of need-to-know tips for plant care. They offer styling tips for the fashion-forward. They sell fresh plant-core merch and use their platform to uplift and advocate for POC in the plant world.
We caught up with Perdomo and Peralta over email.
How did you both get into plants?
Jon Perdomo: Growing up in Florida, my dad had a lot of cacti. The two types that I will never forget are the Euphorbia Ingens and the Madagascar palm. My dad spent a lot of time outside with our cacti, maintaining them and caring for them. My family and I all carved our names on the Ingens. He stood at about 6 feet tall!
Jerrilyn Peralta: I spent a lot of time with my grandparents as a kid. I would help them water their plants in their front and back yards all the time. To this day, they still have the same persimmon and lemon trees and they’re still thriving.
Perdomo: When we moved into our apartment together is when we really got into them. We wanted to use the greenery for color accents. One turned into three and three turned into 80-plus.
Farmer Rishi Kumar grows top-tier fruits and offers gardening tips on Instagram: “Gardening is such an important way of connecting with the earth, connecting with ourselves and eating well.”
@plantmanp has 14,300 followers and counting. How do you use your platform to connect with the community?
Perdomo: I make posts as personable as possible. A little bit of plant tips, decor tips and everything else in between. We’re just regular people who just happen to have a bunch of plants. I think that is what people connect with the most.
You’ve used your platform to highlight other POC in the plant world and to advocate for Black Lives Matter. Why is that important to you?
Perdomo: Whether or not you think your voice is going to make an impact, your actions speak louder than your words. Because my platform is within the plant community, I did my part to be sure all the plant shops and nurseries I support were also supporting BLM by reaching out to businesses that had not shown their stance. I also invited people to reach out to me to have an open conversation. I got more than a handful of messages and I was able to enlighten each person in regards to the topic.
Perdomo: I come from a background in banking but came to a conclusion that banking just wasn’t for me. A few months ago, I decided to take on our brand, Plant Man P, as a full-time job, and I couldn’t be happier. Jerrilyn actually has a 9-to-5 job in the healthcare field here in Los Angeles. Her days can feel super long, especially during this pandemic we are going through, so after 5 p.m. and on weekends she’s helping me with our brand.
I was trying to find a way Jerrilyn and I could have a source of income together. I wanted to create something the both of us could profit from. One day I randomly made a plant Instagram just to capture the growth of our plants, kind of like a photo album. Then we started gaining a lot of traction with our content and now we’re here. I’ve always had a background in streetwear and I wanted to find a way to bring the two worlds together.
Here at L.A. Times Plants, we love “plantfluencers” — people whose Instagram feeds and stories are abundantly verdant. We’ve launched a new series, PLANT PPL, where we interview people of color in the plant world, such as the voice behind @LatinxWithPlants, Andi Xoch of Boyle Heights.
How do you find working and collaborating with your partner?
Perdomo: Working with Jerrilyn is one of the dopest things I could’ve imagined. I’ve always envisioned having a partner who would also be my business partner. For the most part, we always see eye to eye on new ideas and projects. When we don’t, she helps me understand things from a different point of view. It also brings us closer together in our relationship because it’s an additional thing we can bond over and grow with.
Peralta: With this experience, I’ve learned that hard work can make anything happen. Jon always tells me, “The energy you put in is what you’ll get back in return,” and we put nothing but love and passion into this. Although our business may be called Plant Man P, everything is 50/50 and I wouldn’t want to have it any other way.
What’s the biggest tip you can give to plant parents?
Peralta: Don’t over-water your plants. When we started, we always felt like we needed to do something for our plants, not actually knowing that you only need to water your plants at least once a week. Another piece of advice is patience. If your plant isn’t looking how others are “on the ’gram,” there’s no need to worry. Patience will not only get you far with your plants but it will also get you far in life!
Perdomo: If you cared about yourself as much as you cared about your houseplants, you’d be in way better shape.
Where do you hope you and Jerrilyn will be in five years?
Perdomo: Parents, self-employed homeowners, multiple business owners, dream-car drivers. One of our main goals is to not only have our merchandise in stock at the local plant shops here in L.A. but also worldwide. That way, if our merch is sold out on our site, you’ll be able to pick up some gear along with your new plant!
What’s your favorite plant?
Perdomo: My favorite plant is the Philodendron selloum because I really love the aerial roots, the foliage, how massive they can get and how easy they are to care for. An honorable mention would be cacti, but if you follow me on Instagram, that’s pretty much a given.
Peralta: My favorite plant is the Alocasia ‘Regal Shields’ because I am in love with how big the leaves can get and how fast they can grow. We have one at home and it’s named after one of our favorite rappers of all time: Tupac!
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