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Conversations with Annette Gutierrez

Today we’d like to introduce you to Annette Gutierrez.

Hi Annette, can you start by introducing yourself? We’d love to learn more about how you got to where you are today?
Potted began when my best friend Mary Gray and I decided we wanted to get out of the film business (I was a screenwriter and she was a set decorator) and create something that was ours. We were making garden pavers in my backyard with tiles set into concrete and we thought they were the coolest things in the world…also the heaviest!

We began looking for places to sell them, which lead me into a very run-down pottery store in my old neighborhood of Atwater Village. As I walked around the odd store with lines of plaster Davids and Venuses looking for the owner, the only thing I could think was, “Wow, how amazing would it be to reimagine this store?!”

When I finally found the grumpy owner, he informed me that he was putting an ad in the paper that day to sell his business. It was kismet. I immediately called Mary and said we had to buy this store. So we spent an entire weekend freaking out and wondering how we could pull it off (neither of us had even worked retail before) and by Monday, we bought the business.

Cut to sixteen years later and we have become a staple in the Los Angeles plant and garden decor world with several of our own designs and a successful business. Not bad for two girls who had no idea what they were doing.

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey have been a fairly smooth road?
It has definitely NOT been a smooth road. I think starting your own business is a little like giving birth…if you knew how painful it was you would never do it but luckily, you immediately forget the pain.

Our biggest struggle has always been working capital. But between refinancing our homes, generous family members and great credit card offers, we were able to figure it out. We opened a second store in 2007 and were immediately kicked in the butt in 2008. We survived that horrible economic downturn by simplifying and cutting our losses. It really helped that there were two of us so if we had to lay people off, at least we could run things.

And we just kept going.

Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know about your work?
What sets us apart from others is our commitment to a curated style for outdoor decor. When we started, there was very little choice in the outdoor decor world. You had big box stores and you had high-end outdoor furniture stores but there were no boutiques, no places you could go to be inspired.

We love creating little vignettes that our customers can look at and go, “Oh, I never thought of putting a mirror in my garden. I want to do that too.” Or, “Wow, those planters are so beautifully paired with those plants…I want that by my front door!” We never get tired of hearing people tell us how magical they find our store.

As we’ve grown, we’ve also really gotten into houseplants and all the ways you can bring the outdoors inside your home. And the pandemic has really turned that desire up to 11! Even during lockdown, we had people begging us to come in because they just needed something to make their homes feel connected to nature and beauty. So we let them in and Mary and I continued to run the store alone because we had to lay off all our employees for a while.

We will continue to foster relationships with new artists and makers looking for new and exciting products and designs that will inspire and excite our customers because they inspire and excite us. That is what we absolutely love to do.

Before we go, is there anything else you can share with us?
As the pandemic starts to recede, we will hopefully go back to creating workshops and events that bring our plant friends together. We’ve had so much fun curating these events in the past and we really look forward to connecting with everyone this way again.

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