Photo Credit: TN
Meet Sacramento's First Black Queer Plant Shop Owner
Sacramento’s Black and queer community has very few options for an inclusive plant shopping experience. Sac City Stems owner, Mikaela Baker, is from Sacramento. At 27, she is the youngest and only Black and Queer plant shop owner in Sacramento.
She is creating an inclusive space for people of color in Sacramento to fall in love with plants and find their green thumb. “I want you to carry my seeds,” says a photobooth installation in her shop. Mikaela has merged her love for plants with her need for a plant shop that felt like home.
Pre-pandemic, Mikaela was very happy and content with her life as a flight attendant and mother. She had no plans to become an entrepreneur any time soon. However, like many others in America, Mikaela found herself affected by the pandemic. Many flight attendants were furloughed or on leave while the world was shutting down. She used this time to connect back to a passion that has been in her family for generations.
She describes the birth of her business as an intersection between boredom, a passion for plants, and a need for a space that felt inviting.
While on leave from American Airlines, she started collecting plants and learning more about them. Her grandmother and mother were very into owning plants. She says that it was a childhood hobby for her that she stopped having time for.
After sharing her plant journey online, she received requests from people to buy plants directly from her, since she had built a reputation for having plant knowledge. Mikaela noticed she wasn’t the only person with a newly found interest in plants. An influx of younger Black people had also taken up a green thumb.
“I started selling online. And that just kind of took off in a way that I was not expecting,” Mikaela Baker told Travel Noire.
After she started sharing her knowledge of plants and her techniques for taking care of them, Mikaela was ready to start selling plants. However, starting a business in the middle of a global pandemic can be very challenging. Many businesses were shutting down, some permanently moving to a digital space. Her business, however, would do things differently. She started with online sales until her business and plant inventory eventually outgrew her home.
It was then that Mikaela began her journey of opening her physical location for Sac City Stems, which was challenging for her during a very transitional period for the world.
From February to May, she worked diligently to get her store running from the ground up. With the help of her friends, staff, girlfriend, and even her daughter. Mikaela successfully opened her brick and mortar.
“The intention was to be that space where young Black and brown people can come and feel good and not have to spend an arm and a leg.”
Mikaela says as a young Black single mother, she is learning through entrepreneurship that she has to ask for help. She struggled to know how to delegate and wanted to be hands-on with everything. She says the most important lesson has been to make sure you have a solid team that understands your vision.
Although she is the youngest Black woman and the only queer Black woman in Sacramento with a plant shop, Mikaela isn’t interested in using her identity as a marketing gimmick. Her entire staff is currently queer, and though she is proud of her LGBTQ-friendly space and staff, she doesn’t feel the need to make it her selling point.
She focuses more on the millennial lens instead when marketing to her audience.
“Being Black and Queer, it’s not the brand. It’s not our entire identity. It’s just who we are.“
Sacramento’s Millennial Plant Shop
Sac City Stems is an emerging space for people of color in Sacramento. Mikaela’s vision is to use plants as a way to heal the community. From selfie installations to her marketing strategy, Mikaela is very intentional about making her shop an inviting space for younger generations. Many plant shops feel “old,” she says, and there weren’t any plant stores that felt welcoming. People of color, queer folks, and the younger community needed a place to fall in love with plants.
She says that her goal is to make plant shopping a much cooler experience for younger adults. Her shop has already become a place that people can bond over. Many people visit Sac City Stems with new friends or old ones they haven’t seen in a while, says Mikaela.
Her shop has become a bridge for even the local people of color in Sacramento.
“They’re like, yeah, we haven’t seen each other since high school, but we decided to come down to your shop, and it’s already starting to be something for young people to do. It’s just an outing, and it’s already bringing us closer”
Mikaela is still a flight attendant, which means she has to juggle the life of a business owner with her pre-pandemic life. She says that she is happy with the outcome now that the shop is open. She feels that she is accomplishing her goal to create an inviting space for Black people in Sacramento.
“I’ve also started to curate a life for myself and my daughter that has so many beautiful benefits.”
If you’re on vacation in Sacramento or if you’re a local resident, you should visit Sac City Stems. Although the shop is only open on weekends, they do ship nationwide. So if you fall in love with a plant on vacation, they can ship it to you and your new plant will be waiting for you to get back home.
Between her instagramable installations and her varied selection of plants, you will leave with something. When asked what she wants visitors of the shop to take home, Mikaela answered “A plant,”
“I want them to leave with new knowledge, I want to enrich the experience in some kind of way. I want them to leave with a smile on their face and confidence in owning their new plant.”