The Greenhouse Shop: Where Plants Go To Grow

Amie, owner of The Greenhouse Shop, a nursery in Cape Town, shares how she grew her lifelong dream into a thriving business.



Rooted to plant The Greenhouse Shop nursery in Cape Town

What do you do when life hands you seeds? You plant them. Amie’s seed was the dream to one day run her own business. To say it came easy would be an understatement.  Nonetheless, Amie was firmly rooted in her hope that she will, one day, live to see her dream come to fruition. Today, she is a proud owner of The Greenhouse Shop nursery in Durbanville, Cape Town.

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your business?

I am a 32-year-old plain-Jane farm girl from the Simondium Valley near Paarl in the Western Cape. I have two beautiful toddlers: Philip is two years old, and Isla is a year old. They’re exactly a year and 17 days apart. That should already tell you I am a little bit mad, hehe!

I moved in with my partner Niel around five years ago, living at the nursery in Durbanville while holding down my corporate career as a Customer Service Manager, Internal Communications Manager and Social Media Marketing Manager at M4Jam.

I was passionate about my role and was with the company for five years, but after having children, the season of change approached, and I simply went with it and followed my heart which has always been within nature.

Why did you decide to start your own business? What was your inspiration?

I was with my previous company for a long time, and I held down an exceptionally demanding role. I was struggling to find a work-life balance. It did not matter how I restructured my time or projects – I just never had time for my family. Or the time to take care of my mental wellbeing.

I used to sit in three to four hours of meetings daily, during lockdown, with two toddlers around me. The stress was unreal.

One evening in November 2020, I had a series of grand mal anxiety attacks, vomiting and having convulsions. We called the ambulance, and I spent the next four nights recovering from a mental breakdown. I knew I had to make a change there and then.

Planting The Greenhouse Shop seed in a season of change

The season of change had arrived. I surrendered to the fear and embraced the challenge of running my very own business for the first time. At that time, I referred back to a motto that stuck with me:

“Start where you are, with what you have.”

I was at the nursery in Cape Town, and I had access to the plants at wholesale prices. So, I opened the nursery to the public. From there, I started to expand my product basket to include plant-related products and accessories.

In short, my driving factors were:

  1. Wanting to be more present for my children.
  2. No longer wanting to work my butt off to benefit someone else.
  3. Desiring personal and financial growth for myself and finding a way to make it happen.
  4. Trying to find balance and know that I will never again find myself in a hospital bed because of work.

What challenges have you faced as an entrepreneur?

  • Admin. I’m really not a fan and have found it challenging to keep a good balance between ‘playing with my plants’ and seeing to the daily admin.
  • Learning when to stop. When you work for yourself, you tend to push yourself a lot harder. There are many days where I have to remind myself to eat breakfast – at 3 pm!
  • Accounting. I didn’t take any business subjects at school or varsity. So, I’m learning all the basics around tax, VAT etc.

How have you managed the challenges Covid and lockdown has brought?

Ironically, the nursery industry has grown substantially due to people working at home and spending more time at home. They want to beautify spaces that they previously ignored since they weren’t at home during the day. We have, as a result, seen growth in the industry. I officially launched in late 2020 as the lockdown regulations started to ease up.

Who has helped you along the way?

What a tough question.

I am blessed to be surrounded by helping hands. I was fortunate in that my partner Niel already had the nursery in Durbanville. My nanny, Sekai and our two other live-in nursery workers, Katie and Catherine, are the biggest blessings. Without them, I would never be able to run my business. They are truly my angels. I have the most incredible friend, Michael, who works for me and is simply the best. He is a loyal friend and an incredible plant-sidekick!

How did you get past the fear/self-doubt of becoming an entrepreneur?

Prayer. Trusting that I’d always know when the right time was to make the change. Trusting my gut and never silencing that fiercely determined inner voice.

Any tips for someone looking at becoming an entrepreneur?

Yes – marketing is not what you think it is. If you want to market your business successfully, you need to believe in your product or service with all your heart. Also, be honest: with yourself, your suppliers, your customers.

Lastly, SAVE EVERY CENT.

What’s the best thing about being an entrepreneur?

The freedom of knowing that what you put in, you get out. Not your boss, not the CEO, not anyone else but you. You get to take your profit and put it into what matters to you.

What are your customers’ favourite thing about The Greenhouse Shop?

That it feels like a home away from home. I offer them a cup of coffee, and we chat. We offer personal advice, and we are invested in our customer’s needs and wants. We’ve had teary moments and have built beautiful friendships.

I even have a new set of grandparents because of The Greenhouse Shop nursery. An elderly couple, Noreen and Brian, found us and have visited us three times. Next Saturday we are going to their house to help in their garden and in the meantime, we have decided that they’re my new grandparents and I’m their new granddaughter. So far, this has been the most special thing that has come from owning and running The Greenhouse Shop.

What card machine do you use?

The iKhokha register with a Shaker Duo card machine.

What do you like about iKhokha?

Everything. Honestly.

  1. The customer service response time and service level are out of this world.
  2. The proactive communication around any downtime is so helpful and efficient.
  3. The tech team are superheroes! The actual tech is extremely robust, and you hardly have any bugs or glitches. You know what matters to the user.
  4. Your UI is simple and effective. Easy enough to be used by a Tannie having to use an app for the first time to sell her jam to a full-on grocery store.
  5. The reporting is great! Super easy to understand delivered on time every day/week/month.

You guys are just amazing. It finally feels like there is someone out there who understands what it takes to make a great success of a business.

Describe your business in 3 words?

Nursery with heart.

Giving you the green light

If there’s anything we’ve taken away from our conversation with Amie – it’s if you’ve got a dream of owning a business, go ahead and plant the seed. And don’t let anything get in the way of letting it grow. Most importantly, you don’t have to do it alone. We’re always looking to partner with small business owners to help them make business easier. Join the iK Tribe. Amie is giving you the green light.

And if you’re thinking of becoming a plant mom or dad, don’t hesitate, visit 30 Anderson South Road, Joostenberg Vlakte Durbanville.

Or give them a follow on the socials to get some handy gardening tips.

Facebook: The Greenhouse Shop SA

Instagram: @thegreenhouseshopsa

Yolisa Motha

Meet Yolisa, iKhokha's word artist who's on a quest to help small businesses make an impact so powerful - it causes a ripple effect. If Yolisa isn't painting pictures with her words, you'll find her hiking up a mountain or soaking up the beach sun.

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