Posts in Letter from the Founders
Celebrating a Simpler Relationship Between Our Goods and Our Planet
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We're in the business of making connections between plants, people, and the planet every day. So naturally, Earth Day is one of our favorite days of action. It's a day where we reflect on how our individual actions can impact the lives of our houseplants, our city parks, our forests, and relationships with each other.

Our plants are grown with the simple elements of sunlight and water. Some of them can take anywhere between 3 months and 10 years to grow before they find their way to your home. Occasionally they're fertilized, but they're naturally grown, never manufactured. This means no two plants are alike! At Léon & George, we merely preserve what nature has created, and offer you the service and tools needed to live alongside plants indoors.

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We’re committed to supporting long-lasting relationships between each plant that goes out and their new homes. Similar to how pet adoption agencies vet potential parents, when you shop with us online or in store, we feel a similar obligation to matching plants with thoughtful owners and the environments they'll need to be happy indoors.

This year, we're celebrating Earth Day by acknowledging all of our plant-loving customers who make the world a little more vibrant, one plant at a time. To thank you for joining us on this journey, we're doubling down on our commitment to offset our carbon footprint. For every plant purchased on Earth Day 2019, we’ll plan two trees with the National Forest Foundation. That means your purchase will go twice as far toward producing more clean air (and happy plants) than ever.

Read more about your impact and our partnership with the National Forest Foundation here.

Here's to a plant-filled year and beyond. Together we can build a more sustainable future for people, the planet... and plants!

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Who are Léon & George?
Nicolas and Ron, Léon and George co-founders

Nicolas and Ron, Léon and George co-founders

When we started the idea of doing a plant business we came up with a lot of different names. For three months every week we were coming up with something new - Plant Boys, Nice Jungle, Jungle Bits, Folium 365, FoliJoy, Bay Area Plants. One name that stuck around for a bit was Forestical, but then we realized it rhymed with testicle. We were starting to feel a little hopeless since we were almost ready to open the site and wanted to begin building a brand. 

Like most startups we got started in our homes, coding on the couch, and figuring out how to take product pictures in our small spaces. Ron has a cat, her name is Léon. She was named after the character in the movie Léon: The Professional. As we set up the plants and tried to take pictures, she'd walk coyly into the shots, brush her body and tail against the pots and circle around to be the center of attention. She’d come over to snuggle every now and then and ask to have her photo taken. 

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I have a parrot, a Green Cheek Conure to be exact, and his name is George. He was named after the French singer-songwriter and poet Georges Brassens. The full spelling of my bird's name is officially Georges, with an s. Unlike Léon, George didn't ask to be in the pictures, but we included him. He's just so colorful and photogenic. One time we had a Kentia Palm that we were taking pictures of and all of a sudden George started flying around the tree in circles. The wind he was making with his wings moved the palms in a way that felt like being in a jungle. It truly felt like bringing nature indoors. 

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As we continued those early days in our homes, we realized our pets were an integral part of keeping us inspired and helping us build the company. So we named the company after them. Léon the cat and George the bird, officially the cutest co-founders around. 

-Nicolas

Léon and George facetime

Léon and George facetime

What's so special about today?
Bridger-Teton National Forest, Wyoming - photo by the National Forest Foundation

Bridger-Teton National Forest, Wyoming - photo by the National Forest Foundation

It’s #GivingTuesday.

Since Day 1 of Léon & George, we've contributed a portion of our sales to fight deforestation and protect natural habitats. Giving Tuesday is a national day of generosity and today we're ramping up our support for the causes we care about.

As part of our commitment to building a socially conscious business, we do our best to limit our impact on the environment—which includes everything from sourcing locally grown plants to using upcycled packaging materials to limit waste. However, we know that as we grow the business, we have to do even more to offset our carbon footprint and support a healthy climate for all.

More than one million acres of National Forests are in need of reforestation. And thanks to our plant-loving customers, Léon & George has helped plant over 5,000 trees as a small business partner to the National Forest Foundation.

Why now?

Our commitment to reforestation has never been more vital than it is today. The California wildfires have had devastating effects on our communities and our climate.

But the simple act of planting a tree really can make a difference. Restoring new growth has regenerating effects that impact all our lives for the better. It's estimated that one tree can absorb 1 ton of CO2 in its lifetime (about 50 pounds annually). On top of that, trees help sustain natural ecosystems and scenery, and in our cities, they bring life to our sidewalks, parks, and playgrounds.

Join us

This Giving Tuesday, we’re tripling our contributions as a way to support the thousands of plant species that call forests home.

Today, for every plant sold we'll plant not one but THREE trees in National Forests. We hope you will join us, or any cause today that speaks to you.

"Someone's sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago.”
― Warren Buffett

Why Shopping Small Makes a Big Difference
August 2017, we moved into our first office.

August 2017, we moved into our first office.

Small Business Saturday is almost here! We're celebrating by doing what we love: spending time with our customers, our plants, and our team of plant stylists at the San Francisco showroom. (And in case you can't make it into the shop this weekend, we've got some online perks, too.)

What being a small business means to us

Small businesses are vital to our local economies. They're also great places to shop. For us, thriving as a small business is all about the connections we make with people. We'll go out of our way to meet new customers and answer questions. Our entire team is involved in our plant delivery process to make sure it's as seamless as possible, and we'll take the time to prepare you for life with your new plants before, during, and after your delivery.

Our commitment to Small Business Saturday starts with our approach to customer service—and our belief in helping people boost their plant care skills. We encourage purpose-driven purchasing over hitting any kind of sales quota. Simply put, we'd rather have our customers buy less and learn more about plants and the care they need. Our goal is to build a sustainable business for people and plants—one that ensures quality products and the best possible service for you: the conscious consumer.

As part of Small Business Saturday, we're celebrating everyone who makes our work possible: from our California-based plant suppliers to the designers who craft our custom planters to our partnerships right here in the Mission-Bernal neighborhood where we run our shop and greenhouse. We are fortunate to be part of this vibrant community, and we want to do everything we can to lift up other small businesses here who've supported us over the past two years as we've found our footing.

What shopping small means for you

When you shop at a local business, you're reinvesting in the community where you live, work, and spend your time. Not to mention, you're creating opportunities for people to find meaningful work; small businesses create two out of every three jobs today.

This weekend, we're partnering with local businesses to encourage everyone to #shopsmall by visiting local shops in the Valencia St. corridors. When you shop with us at the showroom, you get 1-1 personalized service to make sure you get just the right plant set to go with your space. We’re here to help you achieve the interior design look you've been dreaming about (AKA achieve #plantgoals).

As a token of our thanks to you, everyone who shops with us in-store or online this weekend gets a gift - a beautiful easy-care Tillandsia air plant. We know it’s not much, but it’s our way of being able to give back to you for choosing to support a budding business.

Read the founders' note on shopping small—and shopping smart—here.

We're Not Running a Black Friday Sale This Year. Here's Why.
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We're all about the work-life-plant balance. And this year, we're giving back to plant-friendly causes for the holidays (and giving our team a well-deserved break). Will you join us?

We're spending all of next week hanging out with our plants. (And we hope you do, too.) After discussing it as a team, we decided not to participate in any Black Friday sales this year, and we wanted to take a minute to share why.

Why we're sitting this one out:

We love a good sale. But we're uncomfortable with the idea of cutting corners to save the costs it would require to run a sitewide sale. As a small business, we can't always count on having overstock items. We really value each and every experience we have with our customers. And we are committed to building a socially conscious company that supports our staff and treats our suppliers fairly.

We're running our business sustainably and responsibly so that we can continue to offer you the best quality plants, ceramics, and customer support—and so that in a few years, if your houseplant gets a droopy leaf or a weird bug problem out of nowhere, we'll still be around to help.

When, and how, we discount our plants:

Unlike other products, plants can't sit on the shelf all year and then, poof! They're ready to go on sale for exactly one day. Instead, like us, they have good days and bad days. They thrive when they receive care and attention, and they struggle with too much alone time.

When we put a plant on sale, it's because there's something imperfect (but not unlovable!) about it, which is usually rare and always delightful. Think quirky variations in color or size and other cosmetic challenges. That's why you'll see Instagram flash sales and in-store promos pop up. When it's time, we'll tell you.

Although you won't be seeing any big discounts from us this holiday season, we do have a few ways you can make the most of your Léon & George purchases: Coming soon, we'll have chances for you to bundle and save with plant gift sets, to get early access to limited-edition plants, and to give back to worthy causes. Stay tuned for all that good stuff in the weeks ahead. In the meantime, we hope you enjoy some extra downtime with friends and family. And plants!

Still have questions? We'd love to hear from you!

You can always send us ideas, suggestions, and questions at: hello@leonandgeorge.com

Behind the Business: Shop Smart. Vote With Your Wallet.
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Ron and I started Léon & George two years ago with the mission to bring nature to your home, but not only that. We were both fortunate to go to college and to have the means, the skills and the time to build Léon & George into what it is today. We are the first to acknowledge that we’re part of the top five percent most fortunate in the world. (More than four billion people in the world are living with less than five dollars a day.) And we should never take that for granted.

We’re constantly looking for ways to check our privilege, improve our business, and be clear and honest with our customers every step of the way.

Our responsibility

Even at our small scale, we try to make a difference. We establish long-term relationships with our plant growers, suppliers, and employees to build a sustainable ecosystem where work, quality, and service are justly rewarded.

Our prices are for most not accessible; many have complained that we overcharge for 'just a plant.' But do we? How come big-box retailers are selling their plants for so much cheaper?

Here's what happens when a grower works with those big-box retailers. They are required to put their plants on consignment, which means the grower pays a fee to rent shelf space for the plants and gets paid every 30 (and up to 90) days after a plant is sold.

So, while the customer pays right away, the grower is not compensated until much later; in the meantime, the big-box retailer can make a profit by reinvesting the money from that sale into financial products like stocks and bonds.

When it comes down to it, big box stores are less interested in the quality of individual items, like your future houseplant, and more interested in creating product pipelines for their own financial benefit. They manipulate timelines and rush suppliers to the point where they can sell plants at a discounted rate and still turn a profit.

But that’s not all. Have you ever noticed that the plants you see in those stores look sad? It’s because the grower has to come all the way to the store to take care of them. It’s part of a unilateral contract growers have to adopt, and they have no choice, even though most don’t have the capacity to send someone every week.

You can imagine that with all those constraints, the grower has to cut costs, which reduces the quality of service. The people that suffer the most from this are usually lower-skilled employees—the ones who did not have the chance to go to college, the means to create their own opportunities, or a family to help them build a brighter future.

Our point of difference: Everyone counts

At Léon & George, we pay our suppliers and growers within ten days; we pay our employees every two weeks. We train our staff to use technology, to understand the business, and we empower them to have a long-lasting contribution, while learning skills that they can apply to other industries or future business ventures of their own. Since we started Léon & George, two members of our team have gone on to start their own companies and are working with us as equal partners.

What if we could change the way people shop for the better? Help us spread opportunities for more people: Shop local, shop smarter, and put your money where you want to activate change. Giving is getting and giving is what makes humans happy.

Nicolas Bartoli
Co-Founder, Léon & George

Exciting Things
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Hi there,

Did you know that we're now shipping plant orders coast to coast? It was a big decision for our lean startup, but with encouragement from our mentors and customers asking around the country, we made the leap. Now you can order one of our premium plant sets for loved ones near and far. Our catalog changes weekly, so make sure to check back in every now and then.

We also expanded to Paris, France. That's right, we are officially international! Our team members have family roots in France, so it made sense bien sûr. Check out the Léon & George French e-boutique here.

Last but not least, we're opening two showroom locations — in San Francisco's Mission District and Los Angeles' Arts District. Both locations will be open for limited shopping hours starting in July, with VIP events and workshops coming soon.

There's so much to share about each of these exciting developments, and our hope is that they provide a simple yet valuable service in bringing more plants and people together. We'll be in touch again soon!

All the best,

Nicolas and Ron
Co-Founders, Léon & George