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Rising Stars: Meet Tyler Banken

Today we’d like to introduce you to Tyler Banken.

Tyler, we appreciate you taking the time to share your story with us today. Where does your story begin?
I’ve been playing with dirt for as long as I can remember… My story begins in southeast Missouri where I was raised mowing the grass each week, walking through the vegetable garden with grandpa, and planting colorful summer pots with my grams. Growing up, I didn’t know at the time how much the outdoors would actually play a huge part later in my life…

I never planned to be a designer, landscape architect, or outdoor living anything! I started my own lawn mowing business at 12 years old to make cash so I could buy my own car at 16 – I was determined to NOT drive the 1986 station wagon hand-me-down!! I was mowing, planting, doing landscape cleanups but never thought it was going to be a long-term thing. After graduating with a Marketing degree from University of Missouri, I set out for a business career but soon realized I wanted more… I ended up going to graduate school and obtained my Master’s in Landscape Architecture from Texas Tech University.

After graduate school, I sold everything down to 2 bags to go work and travel in Australia and New Zealand for a year and a half. I worked doing landscape design/install as well as on a plant nursery. I learned so much about work, life, tropical plants, and avoiding large spiders. Upon returning to the U.S., I worked doing high-end residential landscape design and installation in the Kansas City area where one of my projects won a National Award for Design Excellence. Behind the scenes though new things were brewing… I sold all of my stuff (yes, again!), down to three boxes, and moved to Los Angeles where the Tyler Banken brand was born five years ago.

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
If there’s a smooth road in this business-ownership life, I’d like to get directions, please!! 😉 One of the best things that happened to me in life was actually realizing there WILL be bumps and struggles in the road and it’s all about how you tackle each one. When you start a business, you think you’re going to be successful right off the bat – and in some ways you are: freedom, you’re your own boss, etc. – but when it comes to actually making money, the struggle can be sooooo real, especially in the big city.

When I first moved to L.A., I had money saved but that went away real quick and I learned I had to hustle. Like hustle hustle. I was planting a tree for $50, then driving for Lyft, doing a small design job, then delivering for PostMates. I was exhausted but determined. I soon was able to see a financial light and one client at a time slowly built my business. Hard work, networking, believing in my mission and brand was what got me through – as well as great happy hour brainstorm sessions and wine nights with supportive friends!

Growing my brand and business has allowed me to grow as a person as well – I don’t just consider myself a designer, I see myself as an artist, an LGBTQ+ business owner, a community enricher, an opportunity to inspire others. As my business grows, so do opportunities – I’m working and building my brand in entertainment as a T.V. host to share my outdoor living and design expertise, industry trends, and tips via media appearances (you may have seen me on Good Day L.A. a few times!), contributing to articles (Martha Stewart Living, CNN Underscored, Reader’s Digest) and through my social media (who doesn’t love an Insta or TikTok post?!) and I’m just getting started!!

Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know about your work?
I am so lucky that I get to work with clients who value the vision I have in my mind – I mean that’s pretty cool when you think about it! I feel as a creative, especially starting out, it’s hard to know your value and make money until you really truly keep working to master your craft and believe in your brand. Many of my clients actually become friends, we keep a close relationship – I think that something that definitely sets me apart from others. In our first design meeting, we may go from talking about a general idea to realizing we’re already planning the glass of wine we’re going to have together by the firepit once the project is complete. I love it!

Every client is different, every property is different and as a designer, I take pride in allowing my style to fluctuate with my clients’ individual wants and needs as well. One thing I’m proud of that I specialize in is that I’ve been in the trenches – I’ve worked in the pouring rain, I’ve run wheelbarrows full of concrete, I’ve had the mud-caked boots. Not only am I (still) not afraid to get dirty, I know a lot about the construction process which allows me to be more knowledgeable and mindful about construction methods during both the initial design phase and the install. Also, having construction knowledge helps me to connect well with the contractor installing the job. Another thing I’m proud of is my National Award for Design Excellence I received for a project from the National Association of Landscape Professionals. Some designers work their whole life for this! I received the award on a project where I really did run wheelbarrows full of concrete to build the base for a heated paver driveway. 😉

When you get the Tyler Banken brand, you get a professional design, fun shopping sessions to pick out materials, an organized project manager, and a friend.

What sort of changes are you expecting over the next 5-10 years?
Like many industries, landscape architecture and outdoor living is always changing and evolving. There’s been a huge focus on living environmentally friendly, even outside – using less chemicals, choosing drought tolerant and water-wise plants, local governments providing incentives for sustainable landscaping. Also, these days you don’t have to be a homeowner to enjoy outdoor living – with more renters than ever, many people are placing more value on “not so permanent aspects of outdoor living” such as potted houseplants, small urban patio plants, and growing their own food even in small spaces – These trends will only continue to grow – pun intended!

On a larger scope, many people don’t realize it but “landscape architecture” also covers aspects of town/city planning, roadways, bike lanes, walkable multi-use developments, parks, and greenways. We’re seeing more cities investing in green infrastructure, providing more green space, and working to create more walkable communities – which not only provides a better connection with nature and quality of life but also plays a part in addressing climate change issues.

Lastly, life can get stressful, am I right?! Elements of nature can be a big-time healer! I think we owe it to ourselves to create that zen space inside/outside our home – no matter if you have an acre of land or just a plant on a windowsill. Connecting with plants and nature for relaxation or listening to a water feature meditation – it’s all connected to living our best life.

Contact Info:

Image Credits:

Courtney Lindberg Photography Tyler Banken

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