Photos courtesy Rozlan Fransen

10 questions with Rozlan Fransen of Baton Rouge Succulent Company

Baton Rouge’s newest sprout, Baton Rouge Succulent Company, has grown into a full-fledged business in only a little over six months. With the opening of its new location at 7276 Highland Rd. this week, Rozlan Fransen gives us an inside look into the business’s short history and near future. She dishes on the power of Instagram, the perfect gift for Valentines Day, and how plants speak to every kind of person, especially when they are as easy to grow as these.

1. How did you get into selling succulents? How has the business grown since you started?

I’ve owned Frameworks Gallery for about seven years. I’ve always had a personal love for succulents. Last summer, we decided to research wholesale succulents and we just put them in the courtyard. Originally we had plans for a greenhouse, but that didn’t work out. So we started in the summer, but it didn’t’ really take off until the fall when people finally realized we were there. It went viral! Social media helped and we started getting people in every day. We didn’t have enough space and we needed more people. So we started to look at having a new location, which opened this week!

2. Describe your customers at Baton Rouge Succulent Company.

There is actually quite a following of succulent lovers out there—a lot of them follow us on Instagram. When we post a new shipment of plants or a new variety, those people are the first to show up.

There are also a lot of newbies, though. Succulents have become so popular. We get a lot of people in who say, “I love this, tell me what to do.” We give them a run-through. We get a lot of people who have had succulents but couldn’t keep them alive. We talk people through what they need and what they like. Once you figure out what you like and can handle, succulents become really easy houseplants.

3. What are the first things customers will see when they walk through the doors to your new shop?

Basically, there are two spaces in the shop. There will be a retail space where we’ll have a lot of gardening books, botanical prints and very garden-based gifts as well as a bunch of tool sets specific for succulent gardening and a huge collection of pots. When I started this, I hated that I couldn’t find just simple, plain, modern-looking pots. Now that I finally found a source, I’ve ordered a ton of really unique modern-looking pots. In addition to all of that, there will also be some artwork from the gallery.

And then there will be a potting area set up. Anyone who wants to bring their own pot or buy a new pot, they can plant their new succulents right there, with our help. We have plans to put up a greenhouse outside of the new location, and in that sense it will be like a typical nursery.

4. What sets your shop apart?

A lot of the nurseries sell succulents. We are specialty, with our focus specifically on succulents. What I really want to do is bring those plants you can’t find at your local nursery, the rare ones. A lot of succulent lovers are kind of like collectors. We want to be their source.

5. What is one thing you think customers should know about your business that they may not be aware of?

I have done arrangements for events! I also soon plan to get into delivery, like a standard florist. I’m hoping to pick that up this Valentine’s Day. Imagine getting a succulent arrangement! And in the future we’ll do other occasions like Mother’s Day and the like.

6. How do you keep your store’s inventory fresh and up to date?

I actually get a lot of inspiration from Instagram. I also have a lot of friends who are makers and go to trade shows. I recently met with Kathryn Hunter of Blackbird Letterpress and she gave me names of  a bunch of printmakers and craftspeople, so I got in touch with them. I am trying to bring small business makers and crafters into my new store with me.

7. Can you share a hint about anything new in your store this year?

I am hoping to do an event once a month or every few weeks. I’m also hoping to do kind of an informative class for beginning succulent gardeners. We’ll definitely do the succulent bar again. I’ve been talking to a guy who makes terrariums about coming in for a class. Look out for lots of fun workshops!

8. What are a few of your favorite succulents?

If I had to pick a favorite, it’s a kalanchoe, a paddle plant. They can get really big with big flat leaves. They look almost like a giant rosette. I really like those. Another favorite is a euphorbia, a baseball plant. It’s this perfect round cactus, a really interesting plant.

9. What are some of your best-selling products?

I would say my No. 1 seller, which I can’t always get, is the string of pearls. As soon as I get them in, I’ll sell out in a day. They’re hard to come by and can be really finicky, but once you get them established they are really awesome.

10. Baton Rouge Succulent Company has achieved great success in a really short time. What factors do you think contribute to Baton Rouge’s embracing of your succulent shop?

I would attribute almost all of it to social media! And the markets, like the Mid City Makers Market, have really helped. Its really crazy, I have kids in high school coming in all the way up to 80-year-old women. Plants span all ages and are really universal. That combined with the way succulents are trending today, and how easy they are to care for—it all contributes to their popularity.

For updates on plants, workshops and more, check out out Baton Rouge Succulent Company’s website, or follow the store on Facebook and Instagram.