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Check Out Marissa Engoy’s Story

Today we’d like to introduce you to Marissa Engoy.

Hi Marissa, thanks for sharing your story with us. To start, maybe you can tell our readers some of your backstory.
I initially took notice to succulents during a rough patch in my life. I miscarried. I was experiencing depression. While still low, my eyes were drawn to these chubby, rosette-like plants basking in the sun at my sister’s house. She gifted them to me and I took them home. At first, I saw them as distractions from my tough times, but they soon became more. The process of growing, nurturing, and arranging succulents became a colorful and creative way for me to connect. Now, every piece and arrangement reminds me of that low place and how I believe God used that hard time to strengthen me in the end. I love that the plants have allowed me to be helpful to others as well. Often, customers gift my arrangements and plants to those going through hard times. Sometimes, they themselves are struggling and visit me at the shop for plant advice. To get to be a part of that process, I know without a doubt, is a part of my purpose. During this pandemic, it’s been more clear to me that my business and I exist to be present at the shop for our community when people need to connect.

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Initially, my biggest struggle was reconciling the creative in me with the business aspect of my work. I could sit in the garden and easily create for hours. But pricing, planning, and the basics of supply and demand were hard for me to figure out. Over time, I began to appreciate the flexibility of being my own boss and controlling my workload to prioritize my family and what brings me joy. One being constant trips to our local beach – Torrance Beach. The other being serving at Church – Vintage Faith. This past year, the pandemic has really pushed me into so many different transitions with the business. We are located in Corridor Flow, a coffee shop in Lomita. We closed for three months in the beginning of the pandemic and I took all of my work and equipment out of the shop. I had to rely on local deliveries to keep the business afloat. Once returning to open hours at the shop, there were transitions after transitions with changing COVID-19 restrictions. There were times my brain was about to explode and I became exhausted with ongoing change. However, I have found myself growing in this season. Every unexpected change resulted in a new idea – a new way to dream and new opportunities for creativity. Change and adapting are constants in business, and even more so in life! I’m finding joy in the struggle, as it’s helping me to become more resolute in my decision-making and bolder in taking creative chances.

Thanks – so what else should our readers know about your work and what you’re currently focused on?
I consider myself to be a Local Artist and Educator. I specialize in making Living Art and Foliage and Floral Arrangements, as well as instructing Plant Craft Workshops and Informational Classes. I like to say that we are “Your Neighborhood Plant Stop,” and I enjoy chatting and helping customers that stop by throughout the week. I used to travel throughout Southern California to teach workshops, but I found the traveling to be exhausting. I’m so grateful for the opportunities given to me at excellent shops and nurseries: Sam and Kristi at Barrels and Branches in Encinitas, Kat at Make Collectives in Long Beach, and Erin at Acorn in Eagle Rock. I was sitting in long hours of traffic. Packing up and setting up and packing up again were also taking a toll on my body. I wanted so badly to stay in the South Bay, to stay home. It’s been a blessing to put down roots at Corridor Flow in Lomita. The owners, Nori and Tin Bermudez, have been so generous with their time and space.

Our community is what I’m most proud of. The shop is about a 5 minute drive from my house and I, not only see customers in the shop, but also while running errands or at the beach or park. As our community has grown, I’m finding so much joy in doing life together, doing florals for their parties or making a special arrangement for them to gift. Sharing milestones and supporting each other through change are other reasons why I’m proud of this community. I love our community!

I’m nearing ten years as a business more pop up plant businesses have come up, which has made it hard to stand out. It’s hard to know what can set my business apart from others. To compete is exhausting and being in that zone does something weird to my head and heart. But I love what I do and I love the people I get to work with! I hope that when people come into our space, they will find a friend in me, a friend that knows about plants and can steer them in the right direction when they want to make a purchase. I also hope that they will consider my arrangements to be special and that the arrangements will bring joy to their spaces.

What’s next?
For the majority of my business, I’ve declined work during influxes of interest. I do have to credit my husband, Derrick, who often steps in to cover bases that I’ve missed or to build structures for my arrangements (I joke and call him my “Unpaid Intern,” but he is my rock.). I’ve been ok with this system until recently. Being stable and constant at the shop has allowed me to measure growth and identify more consistencies. My strengths and weaknesses are clearer and I’m now able to be attentive to the things I need to work on. I’m also in a season of hiring people to join my team. And, lucky for me, I’ve met so many people at the shop who I trust that will be helping me out.

We have also resumed workshops and classes at the shop, which have been such a large part of our identity as a business. I’m looking forward to engaging with our community over creating and learning. Hosting workshops is such an enriching time for me personally. Seeing our students light up as they learn something new and helping them work through design issues is very satisfying.

During the pandemic and the cancellation of group events, it became clear to me our classes not only grow skills, but they grow community. In our workshops, not only do we learn together, but we problem solve and laugh, we break bread and share life. These are things our spirits long for, as humans we need these connections. I love that our workshops allow for these to happen and I get to be a part of it! I’m also working on more collaborative projects with other artists. The collaborate opportunities have helped me reimagine my work and it’s been so satisfying to grow, both, artistically and in relationships with other creatives. Also, I’m so blessed with my platforms on Social Media and at Corridor Flow. It’s been wonderful using these platforms to showcase other makers and artists. Watching them shine and being a part of their story is, well, the feeling is inexplicable!

Contact Info:

Image Credits:

Nathaniel Opindo, Kristi Beach, Marissa Engoy

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