Her Highland Park plant pop-up shop is a must-see for macramé enthusiasts
This is the latest in a 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.
Two things have always seemed to be present in the life of Lesly “Lola” Morales. The first: plants. Growing up in Monrovia, in the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains, she feels most inspired when hiking the tree-covered mountains with family and friends.
“Plants are really healing and grounding,” said the 27-year-old, who now calls Highland Park home. “I’ve always been inspired by nature. Plants inspire creativity.”
Creativity is the second theme that seems to follow Morales. She founded Plant Creative Co. — a Highland Park-based plant and macramé pop-up shop — in 2019.
“I chose the name ‘Plant Creative Co.’ because I want to inspire the creative in other people,” she said. “I think bringing plants into your home makes a vibrant space that you want to create out of.”
Plant Creative Co. sells handmade plant hangers and locally sourced houseplants at marketplace events, provides plant-centric interior design consultations, shares helpful plant care tips with Instagram followers, and hosts bi-weekly Sip + Macramé workshops where attendees enjoy wine while creating macramé plant hangers.
Macramé is a textile production technique believed to have originated in the ancient Middle East that involves knotting together rope or string into often elaborate geometric patterns. In 2016, Morales began creating macramé shortly after taking a leave of absence from college.
“When I was younger, I was always really into making friendship bracelets and hemp necklaces,” she recalled. “Everyone was into it, but I was a little more into it. I would always have thread taped to my thigh and was always weaving little bracelets. When I got older, I saw macramé online, so I started YouTubing and looking things up and taught myself that way.”
After completing her first macramé plant hangers, Morales — who was working as a waitress and independent yoga teacher — starting collecting plants and pots to complement the hangers.
“One day I was plant shopping with my sister at a flower market in downtown L.A., and a lot of people kept asking me for help,” she said. “I think they thought I worked there. I was helping them and telling them what looked cute. I ended up meeting the owner, and he was like ‘Do you want a job or something? Everyone’s already asking you for help.’”
Morales accepted a job at the flower shop owner’s wholesale plant shop where she began selling her macramé creations, hosting macramé workshops and learning more about plants.
In 2019, she quit managing the wholesale plant shop to follow her dream of practicing yoga in India.
“When I went away to India, people were still messaging me about doing my workshops or buying a plant hanger,” she said. “So when I got back and people kept asking me for plants regularly, I started selling to them and did my first workshop.”
That free macramé plant hanger workshop — hosted on Mother’s Day 2020 to benefit women in the queer community — was done in collaboration with Andi Xoch from @latinxwithplants, the first person to be profiled in our Plant PPL series.
“She encouraged me and gave me the confidence to do it,” Morales said of Xoch. “She did pop painting, and I taught how to make macramé.”
Andi Xoch, creator of @LatinxWithPlants hosts plant pop-ups on the weekends outside her home in Boyle Heights.
Recently, I interviewed Morales over Zoom about her biweekly macramé workshops, the inspiration behind Plant Creative Co. and her plans to expand into a mobile greenhouse this fall.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
What is Plant Creative Co.?
I do plant and macramé styling and design, pop-ups and teach macramé workshops. Those are probably my most fun events. I do them as Sip + Macramé, so it’s kind of like sip and paint, but you make your own plant hanger. It’s really fun.
I want to inspire people to be creative, so that’s why I really love teaching the workshops. People may have never created anything in their lives, and they take my workshop and are so happy and excited that they made this themselves.
We really do anything plants and creative though. I do plant design and really got into it. I got hired by One Down Dog, and I was able to help them design three of their yoga studios with plants and macramé.
That’s something I really want to do in the future. Maurice Harris really inspires me. He opened a coffee shop, but he’s a designer and florist and has a studio next door. That’s something I really want to follow — owning my own nursery and having a design studio space where I can teach workshops and creative plant things.
What inspired you to found Plant Creative Co.?
It kind of just fell into my lap. ... I just followed what the universe was saying I should be doing. I started getting more creative, and I really wanted to inspire other people to be creative and bring plants into their homes as well as really nice macramé. I feel it’s something different and creative.
I’ve always wanted to own my own business and have a sense of independence for me and my family, so I think that really inspires me too. Before, I wanted to be a lawyer. I was going to university and studying political science. I didn’t really know it was an option to do something creative until I started discovering myself … then I realized I could start my own business.
I realized that the world needs fewer intellectuals and more creatives and artists, and I realized that I had it in me, so I just went with it. My grandma and my mom are seamstresses, so I felt really connected to them when I started doing it. My grandma was so excited! She made me this little crochet bag because it looks like macramé.
What macramé inspires you?
There’s a lot of beautiful macramé made in Central America and Mexico. I’ve been really inspired by it. I feel like it connects me to my roots.
I’m Central American and Mexican. My mom is from Honduras, and I’ve never been to Honduras. My mom never really wanted to go back. There’s a lot of beautiful macramé though.
There’s this vacation spot in Tulum, Mexico, called Azulik with the most beautiful macramé. I’m always so inspired by their pictures and photographs. Macramé has been around for a long time. All of the hammocks and swinging chairs that you see in Mexico are made by hand.
Meet Sheryl Calipusan Ung, Janessa Molina Maquindang and Melissa Limbago, the Filipina American cousins behind L.A.'s effortlessly cool FlyPlant Shop.
Do you hope to visit Central America and Mexico someday?
Yeah, I want to. Everywhere I go I try to find inspiration for macramé. When I went to visit Colombia, I went on a hunt looking for macramé ropes that I could use. I ended up packing some driftwood from Colombia that I could use in my macramé.
When I was in India, I also brought back some rope that I could use to make some hangers and stuff. I’m definitely always looking to be inspired by my traveling.
What else inspires you to create?
My family. Like I said, it really makes me feel connected to my mom, my grandma and my family. I think that it inspires my sister to see me creating something for myself, owning my own business, having my own events and making things for people. It inspires my family a lot, and they inspire me. It’s really beautiful, honestly.
Jasmine Nicole cofounded the Nice Plant with a mission to show young people of color the importance of self-care and mindfulness through plant care.
Tell me more about Plant Creative Co.’s marketplace events.
We collaborate with different local artists around L.A. and Highland Park and with local businesses and stores in all the different neighborhoods. Once [a business] is onboard, we essentially set up a sidewalk marketplace. We call it ‘Walk the Block.’
It’s all along the front of local businesses, and we collaborate. It promotes community and helps people start, get the word out, share their artwork and sell it.
What are your plans and goals for Plant Creative Co.?
I bought a trailer, and I’m converting it into a mobile plant nursery … sort of like a greenhouse on wheels because I really want my plants to be able to live in there. It’s going to be my mobile pop-up.
I decided to go with that rather than a traditional bricks-and-mortar store because pop-up culture, being mobile and meeting new people all around L.A. is really exciting to me.
I’m hoping that it’s ready in September. We’ll be offering a lot more classes. We’re going to be able to carry a lot more plants and macramé as well. I’m also hoping to park my mobile greenhouse and create a little workshop space wherever I can in collaboration with other businesses. I’m excited to keep collaborating with other businesses as well as the community.
What do you have to do to get your mobile plant nursery ready?
It’s challenging me a lot because I have to figure out how I can convert [the trailer] into a greenhouse and how I’m going to put in the windows. I really want to incorporate repurposed windows and repurposed materials. It’s really making me step out of the box to put it together.
I have my family helping me with ideas. My cousin is a contractor, and he’s helping me a ton. I also have all the permits and legalities. That’s a whole learning process as well. I’m really just teaching myself everything.
Is there anything else you want people to know?
I have a workshop coming up with One Down Dog, a yoga and fitness studio. It’s gonna be my first workshop incorporating yoga and macramé.
A lot of times when I create macramé, when I’m weaving it, I’m thinking and manifesting real positivity into the plant hangers. I usually say affirmations as I’m making plant hangers to bring happiness and success to my business and to the person purchasing the plant hanger.
That’s what I’m going to incorporate into the workshop. It’s called “mindful macramé,” and it’s going to be on Aug. 29th from 12:30-2:30 p.m.
We’ll start with a 15-minute yoga flow, working and stretching the hands and shoulders that we use when we make macramé and just promoting healthy hands. Then, we’ll come up with three affirmations that we’ll say as we make our plant hangers and manifest what we really want to bring into our lives.
This is the first time I’ve combined both of my passions: yoga and macramé. I’m really looking forward to it, and I hope to do it a lot more.
Finally, as we ask everyone in this series, what is your favorite plant?
I really like philodendrons. They’re my favorite plant because they come in so many different variations. They’re so beautiful, but they’re also accessible to everyone in that they’re easy to care for. There are so many different rare plants, but they have so many particular care needs. They’re so beautiful, but they’re really difficult to take care of. Philodendrons are really accessible to anyone, and they have an easy care routine. I like that.
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