To kick off the new year, we interviewed Danuelle Doswell and Mignon Hemsley, co-founders of Grounded, a plant-focused wellness brand that operates out of 52 O Street Studios. Danuelle shared her insight into the history of their brand, some lessons we can learn from plants, and the impact of nature on our mental health and community spaces.
Your website says “Grounded was created to help you disconnect and decompress through the appreciation of plants in the spaces we occupy.” Could you tell me a little bit more about your business and how you got started?
So, Grounded is a wellness brand reconnecting you to nature through the appreciation of houseplants created by Mignon Hemsley, a DC native, and Danuelle Doswell an Alexandria, VA native. Our business model is primarily DTC where we ship plants to homes all around America and B2B where we work with organizations of all sizes on Corporate Wellness and Planterior Design. In 2019, we began brainstorming names and knew we wanted our concept to reflect all the benefits of plants and how therapeutic they are to your mental health. We prepared to launch on Earth Day 2020 and spent months evolving our concept, marketing, and mission. As we approached Earth Day, like everyone in the world, we received the news regarding COVID-19. Although we were a bit nervous regarding consumer behavior with people losing their positions and things closing down, we knew if we proceeded with sharing our mission, everything else would follow. And it did. The short version is that DCist covered our story a few days before launch and it went viral!! Which was incredible and unexpected. On Earth Day 2020, our site crashed, and we sold 700 plants in under 45 minutes. The rest is history!
What are the 5 most important core values of your business?
Our company values are reflective of nature's boundless attributes. When positioned in the right light, the nature of our work inspires and helps us flourish. We operate from an unshakeable growth mindset that is sustained by a collective goal of improving the world around us.
Grounded functions optimally when we reconnect, replenish, and revitalize within our ecosystem.
To me, part of what stands out about your business is the elegant graphic design across your social media platforms and your website. What role does aesthetics play in your business model and marketing approach?
Thank you! Both of us have a huge affinity for art and design, so we try to innovate and integrate our tastes into our brand identity. We love curating our work in a way we would love if we were on the other end of being consumers. That has resonated with our community and through our mission complementing our aesthetic, we’ve cultivated a unique approach and lifestyle brand. While our content is designed to primarily educate and uplift, we appreciate how it also inspires. Through our approach to the plant world, our marketing has done most of the talking and has generated traffic for us. Mignon has a background in Graphic Design and Photography so everything from our social media to our website is designed by her and my (Danuelle) background is in Marketing and Brand strategy. Combining our talents to grow our business has been impactful to our model because we don’t have to hire outside help as a small, growing business.
Grounded co-founders Danuelle Doswell (left) and Mignon Hemsley (right)
The new year is a time when people like to set goals and (excuse the pun) turn a new leaf. What lessons can we learn from plants about growth and being grounded?
Haha, plants teach us countless lessons about caring for ourselves. Plants have the power to remind us of our resilience after stress, neglect, and trauma. Humans find meaningful relationships with greenery because they are living organisms that teach us about life, health, and well-being. At Grounded we love to encourage our community to correlate personal milestones, transformations, etc. with the amount of growth or changes that they see in their plants. We believe how we care for our plants is a reflection of how we care for ourselves. We’re grateful to center our work around communicating how everyone in the world can learn how to be intentional, gentle, and mindful of themselves through grounding themselves in nature whether indoors or outdoors.
In one of your recent blog posts you discuss the importance of green space to a community’s well being. How does being located in an urban center like Washington, D.C. inform or change your approach to creating green spaces indoors?
With Grounded also operating as a Planterior Design firm, we go to various organizations to improve their spaces with our greenery. Companies usually want it for physical design, even though we primarily like to address the benefits of Biophilia. However, doing work in an inner city, especially DC, is a very important attribute in our life’s work. We consistently research how there is a direct correlation between the amount of nature you see in an environment and the crime rate.
Complimenting our work with being in a city like DC means that we will address gentrification and crime by creating more green spaces in and outdoors. When we think of how Grounded will evolve, we see our efforts developing in a way that not only helps us combat the mental health crisis with more greenery but climate change as well.
How does being surrounded by other creatives at 52 O Street impact your work?
At the core of who we are, we’re both two creatives so being here every day is an inspiration in itself through speaking and making friends with so many talented individuals. Our perspective when we moved here in 2020 was one where we saw ourselves as outliers having a non-traditional medium/focus in the building. Since then, our peers at 52 O have done an excellent, unconscious job at encouraging us to see ourselves as artists too.
What goals do you have, personally or professionally, for 2023?
Both being multifaceted individuals, we have never been confined to normalcy and believe there are no ceilings in what we can accomplish or execute. Grounded is another idea actualized for us both founded on one of our many interests. The biggest theme in both of our lives is to continually dream big and not place any limits on what that looks like. In 2023, our goal is to continue planting seeds and watching all of our ideas blossom. No pun! Last but not least, stay tuned for Mignon, who also works with ceramics, debuting her work for the world.