Nestled in the heart of Boyle Heights, on historic Cesar Chavez Avenue, is Latinx with Plants—a newly-opened business that’s looking to cultivate community through plantitas.
Founded by store owner Andi Xoch, the store has found a home in what used to be an old jewelry store. There’s no sign outside (yet) but the colorful, hand-painted images of plants, done by Xoch and other local artists, confirm that you’re at the right place.
Inside, the store gives off warm energy. With turmeric-colored walls, and shelves packed with monsteras, pothos, cactus, ferns, and other welcoming greens, it’s hard not to feel cared for, nurtured and safe even when in this little sanctuary.
The store’s name, Latinx With Plants, is proudly displayed on the back wall, in aqua blue handwriting. The sign, which has been splashed around Instagram, now has a permanent home.
Latinx With Plants started as an Instagram account that shared funny plant memes, plant inspo and plant-related resources for the community—a place where, as Xoch puts it, “ folks could come and learn about their ancestral connection to plants.”
The account, which launched in March of 2019, came from her desire to improve representation in the plant industry. “There’s a deep appreciation between the Latinx community and plants,” she says. “It’s not just a trend, It’s not about flexing our green thumb, it’s about our roots. For many of us, plants are a reminder of home. I didn’t want that to be misrepresented, I didn’t want our voice to be left out.”
To get things started, she reached out to fellow plant advocate and founder of @blackwithplants, D’Real. In fact, he was the one who suggested that she use @latinxwithplants as the name. “It was this beautiful moment of collaboration, of Black and Brown unity, of east coast and west coast coming together,” Xoch said as she hung a few poths plants up for display.
Now, a year later, the account has over 17K followers and the community has been just as engaged offline as it has online. When we asked the 32-year-old what inspired her to start the LWP pop-ups, she paused for a moment, before saying “love for my community, love for my dad.”
Xoch’s father’s kidneys are operating at 6%. He suffers from diabetes and high blood pressure and, as a result, requires constant care. “The pop-ups started as a way to raise funds so that I could care for him. We live in a country where we see the sick and elderly as disposable, as useless. That’s not how I see my dad. Why can’t we make taking care of our parents a trend?” Xoch says before quickly adding, “It shouldn’t be a trend, it should be the norm.”
The pop-ups, which were originally run from Xoch porch, quickly grew and she found herself in need of a more permanent space.
“Exhausting…exhilarating,” Xoch says when asked what it’s like to open a brick and mortar shop in the middle of a pandemic. “When you’re doing something you love and you are so passionate about it, it drains you. I’m tired, but the tenderness of the community makes it worth it.”
Like many new business owners, Xoch has moments when she suffers from imposter syndrome and questions everything she’s doing but, overall, she attributes her experience as a grassroots organizer for helping her get this far.
As a member of the Ovarian Psycos Cycle, an LA-based woman of color bicycle crew that aims to confront injustice and redefine identity, Xoch is no stranger to activism. Her experience has allowed her to integrate that in the work that she’s doing through LWP.
“Plants bring people together and give us a way to connect with our own families, our elders and the earth. Community and healing through plants, that’s what Latinx with Plants is about,” she says. At a time when the world is in great need of both, it’s clear to see why the community is rallying behind Xoch.
The store officially opened its doors to the public on Saturday, August 1st, and is located on 2117 E Cesar Chavez Ave. Los Angeles, CA. In compliance with COVID-19 regulations, Latinx With Plants is currently operating by appointment only, which you can book on their website.
Each appointment allows for 2 people to visit the store at a time. You can support the work that Latinx with Plants is doing by donating to @andi_xoch via Venmo and/or joining the community on IG.
“My goal is to get everyone in the community to own one plant,” she says. “If we all had one and learned to take care of it… that can spark something that introduces people to caring for the earth and other sustainable habits.”
Correction, August 6 at 3:45 p.m. ET: Andi’s last name was corrected to Xoch.