JULY 10, 2019

Plant Parenthood

BY FIEL ESTRELLA
PHOTOGRAPHY BY NIKKI BONUEL

Hiding in plain sight flanked by family restaurants and the supermarket, Qach makes a case for pockets of earthly green oasis in the city.

Renovating your house, moving objects around and making space beautiful new things, always creates opportunities to discover something new, about yourself and the world. For the Samalas, it was a simple search for indoor planters that led them on a new venture. 

“My mom has always been into plants,” says Tini Samala. On a trip to Holland, she visited a gardening center and found Capi Europe, whose lightweight and well-designed planters immediately caught her eye. She didn’t hesitate to contact the brand and ask about distributing its products back home in the Philippines. “That started everything,” Tini recalls. 

Everything, in this case, means Qach Lifestyle and Garden, of which Tini is store operations manager. They opened the first store in Laguna’s Solenad in 2017, and have since branched out to Metro Manila with stores in Alabang Town Center, Ayala Malls the 30th, and UP Town Center.

Qach was established with the goal of making green spaces more accessible in mind.

“We’re in the city, so imagine, you get to have this green oasis in a mall,” marvels marketing manager Jamie Blomdahl. “You know, you go to the mall, you go grocery shopping, and then you stumble upon this, ‘di ba? We wanted to make it easier for people to create green spaces and getting closer to nature. People want that in their lives, but they find it hard, so here it’s kind of like a one-stop shop.” 

True to her word, the branch of Qach in Ayala the 30th looks as though customers have just walked into a quaint indoor garden — which it is, complete with a beautiful mural along one wall and a functioning station for watering and taking care of plants.

A vibrant mural welcomes customers to experience the store’s equally vibrant plants.

Aside from distributing Capi Europe, they also carry Elho, a brand of planters and gardening tools, which are made from recycled materials and come in an array of pretty pastel colors. It’s a refreshing deviation from heavy and drab terra cotta. (Capi planters of any size can all be carried with one hand.)  There are terrariums and nifty green tech like LeGrow planters that double as charging devices, as well as uplifting and beautiful guide books on caring for plants and stationery — but the real stars, of course, are the plants themselves, ranging from classics like monsteras and philodendrons to more uncommon types like rubber trees and pencil cacti. 

“We want this to be a space where we meet plant parent-to-bes,” Blomdahl says.

“To make it easier for them,” adds nursery operations manager Oli Samala. “I haven’t met anyone who doesn’t like plants, but they find it difficult to visualize [taking care of them indoors]. We help them realize that it’s not impossible to take care of plants wherever you live.”

“We’re promoting a lifestyle, the green lifestyle,” says Tini. “It’s not just taking care of the plant, but embracing how to become a plant parent. You’re getting closer to nature and bringing the outdoors in.” 

Asked how they would encourage newbies to take up gardening, Oli says, “To encourage someone, we have to identify first what they’re into. Would they want ornamental plants or do they just want green in their house?” 

There are plenty of plants out there that require only minimal water and sunlight, so even a person who’s always busy and on the go can rest easy. The more adventurous sort, according to Oli, may opt to try growing their own vegetables, like onions or potatoes, or keeping pots of herbs in their kitchens. (It’s just a bonus that they’ll be able to cultivate sustainable and organic lifestyles.) Blomdahl chimes in with, “Really, it’s just to try.”

The store carries items from Capi Europe and Elho, the latter of which includes gardening tools in vivid colors made from recycled materials.

Qach was established with the goal of teaching how to care for simple plants and other basic plant parenting styles, and each plant purchased has a little tag that tells its new owner how to keep it alive and make it thrive. They also host workshops from time to time, introducing skills like keeping succulents and making terrariums. 

“We believe that everyone can create green spaces,” Blomdahl says. “We don’t believe in black thumbs! We’ve all killed plants, we all have our own personal plant graveyard.”

Qach has everything you need to keep your plants happy and alive.

Customers always come in telling stories of having killed new plants within days and asking for advice. The people of Qach are always willing to help, whether it’s in-store or online, and for them, it’s all about building relationships and creating a community, along with keeping the plants and their parents happy. 

“We tell them that really happens it happens to everybody who starts something new,” Tini shares. “We say, ‘You know what, if you’ve killed a plant, we’ve all done it before.’ You fail, but it’s something you can learn from. You learn to take care of it, and then it starts to grow.”

Qach is located at Solenad in Laguna, Alabang Town Center in Muntinlupa, Ayala Malls the 30th in Pasig, and UP Town Center in Quezon City.

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