Connect
To Top

Exploring Life & Business with Anthony Diaz and Kevin Alcaraz of Interpret That

Today we’d like to introduce you to Anthony Diaz and Kevin Alcaraz.

Hi Anthony and Kevin, thanks for joining us today. We’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
Plantiitas started a little bit before the pandemic. It started with a hand made plant hanger that Kevin Alcaraz (my partner) made and posted on social media just to share it. From there, folks began to ask where he had gotten it and when he explained that he had made them himself, they started asking for custom orders. At one point, someone asked for a plant to come with the plant hangers, so he began selling them together. That eventually grew and Kevin began buying plants AND pots, as well as making the macrame hangers. People were making appointments to come into our apartment to look at the plants he had available and eventually, the pandemic hit. It became less safe to gather in our apartment, so Kevin then thought about having a plant pop up sale out of our garage. The first one was a hit! People loved our plant selection, aesthetic and being able to shop outdoors and safely. We started doing pop-ups every weekend and our name started getting out there.

Eventually, that became having pop-ups in the community and we did that throughout the summer and into early fall. By September, we were scouting different storefronts with the dream of opening up an actual storefront. Although it wasn’t easy and there definitely were barriers, we finally found the location where we are today and were approved for it. How we are into our second month at our shop in the Belmont Heights area of Long Beach and the community is loving our store. We love giving back, so once a month donate 15% of our weekend sales (when we make the most sales) to a non-profit organization that the community vouches for. We also engage in different ways with the community and try to make our social media as accessible as possible. We also believe that plant care can teach self-care, so we try to price our products fairly as well as host programs that will encourage folks to seek out self-care.

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 is a challenge to set up a business, even more so for People of Color and marginalized communities. We definitely didn’t have financial capital or support like many would expect. We continue to put everything we have into opening up our shop. The landlord of our location wanted to charge us an extra $1,000.00 to get the storefront out of fear that we might not be successful there and since they had their previous tenant close down due to COVID, they wanted to set up that precaution for ourselves. That was really frustrating, but after further negotiating we were able to convince them to go with the original terms of renting that space (first and last month’s rent) without the added fee that was thrown out to us later in the process and caught us by surprise. Additionally, becoming a new purchaser with suppliers that have had long time customers has also been a challenge also. Many suppliers aren’t interested or able to add more clients due to the high demand of plants at the moment. So we are left to go to MANY different suppliers to keep the rich diversity of plant babies that we have at our shop at any time. Not everyone is as excited about us opening up shop on the intersection of 4th and Termino where we are now. We have experienced some less than warm welcomes from some folks, but our reception has been mostly wonderful.

Additionally, some of the shops we have worked with to do pop-ups before were not as honest with their intentions and or friendly when we worked with them. Our shop has always drawn such a great and vibrant crowd and some shops took advantage of that to boost sales at their stores by bringing plant sales to their shop on top of what they were already doing. We value transparency, community and being uplifting, so when we give that and it isn’t reciprocated, it is not the best feeling and it shows you the true colors of who you’re working with. During one of our events where we set up a pop up on the sidewalk of a local business, we had law enforcement called on us for no reason other than a neighboring shop owner was upset that we had folks excited about our pop up next to their business. Their excuse was that we were blocking the sidewalk and customers could not get to their shop. Since I work as an American Sign Language interpreter and have family members with accessibility needs, I am aware that we have to have certain procedures and accommodations in place, so we intentionally made the sidewalk accessible and made sure not to block the path. The police finally came, looked around from a distance for about 5 minutes, and then drove away. This same shop owner went on to social media and spewed vitriol to us, using foul language to call us names and really try to ruin what was a great day. One of the vendors that owner worked with took it upon themselves to follow suit and make a video calling us derogatory names and insult us (without knowing who we are or what the situation was). It was all together a disgusting event and show of how awful people can be. This on top of a pandemic, pulling every resource we have into opening up our shop, etc… It has been an EVENTFUL summer.

Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know?
Interpret THAT! is a Queer and POC owned and operated American Sign Language (ASL) interpreting service providing ASL Interpreting and services for the DeafBlind. It was established in 2018 and is close to being three years in existence. Interpret THAT is one of very few Queer and POC owned ASL Interpreting services in the nation and a small minority and LGBT certified owned business. Kevin Alcaraz is a freelance makeup artist and attended the Elegance International school where he attained his professional training. Much of his work has been slowed due to the pandemic.

We love surprises, fun facts and unexpected stories. Is there something you can share that might surprise us?
Anthony loves to sing! I love languages, psychology and learning about history. Kevin loves to dance! He loves fashion and interior design likes a hearty meal and is a gym bunny. We both love our fur baby Gorda, our now eight months year old pup.

Pricing:

  • Plants range from $8-$35

Contact Info:

Suggest a Story: VoyageLA is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

More in