SproutingStories: succulent, upcycled book planters. | the ReFab Diaries

"Everything deserves a second chance, especially old books." - SproutingStories.

If you follow me on Pinterest, you know I have a board dedicated to upcycled books, which is how I found SproutingStories, my new favorite book upcycler!

Get 20% off your own handmade, succulent book planter. 

Grab the code at the bottom of the post.

Besides being beautiful, affordable and handmade, these planters give back. Each month, SproutingStories donates to local (Cleveland, OH) schools to help them buy new supplies. Yep, that includes books! Read on to meet Rhett, who started the business in a garage in 2014. And grab the very generous discount code at the end of the post.

1. Tell us more about "started in a garage"! What was the motivation? 

Well I’ve always had an itch for creating and building things. I love Lego, woodwork and architecture. Late in my college career at Kent State I became obsessed with the idea of making a fun product that I could share with the world. However, my ambitions were always bigger than my wallet and living space off campus. I would often commute back and forth from my parents’ house and one weekend, I just started tinkering in their garage. Using my dad’s tools and some old craft supplies, the book planters were born! I probably created six or seven planters at first and gave them out as gifts. My brother joined the team shortly after and really helped me with creating the process.

2. I find that people who craft with books are often also readers. Is that true for you? Can you share a couple of your favorite books?

Hmm, great question! Yes, I’d say that this is mostly true for us. I’m more of a “light-reader” with an average book count of 6 to 10 new reads per year. I typically devour content on my laptop in the genres of Business, Economics, SciFi or Art.

Several memorable books for me:
-Designing Your Life by Bill Burnett & Dave Evans
-Books about history, specifically - WWII and American Civil War
-The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell
-Everybody Lies by Seth Stephens-Davidowitz 
-Hooked by Nir Eyal
-any books or content by Seth Godin
-Gone With The Wind
-Harry Potter series

We’re a team of four now and Kaylee, my girlfriend, probably reads the most out of everyone. She’s onto a new book every week!

3. Where do you source your books? Do you ever find yourselves having to justify your "destruction of books" to grumpy book lovers? 

The majority of them come from local thrift stores, book shops and library sales. And yeah we’ve had to explain ourselves a couple times. Usually it's to people that don’t quite understand what a “Book Planter” is or how the idea is to repurpose books that otherwise would be thrown away or destroyed. Sometimes they shrug it off as an expressive form of art or waste of print but often they can imagine the new personality that the book has taken on. When I first got started, I was really hesitant to cut into a used book, especially the decorative vintage ones with really unique cover illustrations. You just don’t find anything like that in bookstores nowadays! We keep a pile now of books that we do not drill and will one day feature them on our personal bookshelves.

4. I love the store name. Is there a story behind it? 

We actually got started under the name ReadingRoots. While we liked the name, we felt it was too similar to the show Reading Rainbow (another awesome inspiration back in the day) so SproutingStories was born.

5. Is the business a side hustle or someone's full time job?

It’s been a side hustle until earlier this summer. I still do the majority of actual creation and fulfillment but our team of four often get together to plant succulents and shop for books. We’re really pushing now to get into stores across the country and have some really exciting updates coming in the next year. Keep an eye out ;)

6. Are you also gardeners? 

WE LOVE GARDENING. My parents are both huge plant and gardening people - I think that’s where I got it. I love the combination of handmade items with natural elements. There’s something about seeing nature in harmony with basic manmade architecture. Matt actually builds larger planter boxes in his backyard; I think we’d both love to own and design greenhouses one day!

7. What's next for SproutingStories? 

Right now we’re loving our new branding (thanks, Victoria Feiler!!). What's next? Well, we believe our book planters are a perfect fit for several brands and decor shops so we're working hard to get into a multi-store location soon. We'd love people to keep in touch and follow our story.

Find us on Instagram and Facebook and sign up for our monthly emails in the footer at www.sproutingstories.com. We’re always tinkering with our retail experience and packaging, so feel free to message us with your cool ideas! We’d genuinely love to hear what other upcyclers and ReFab folk are building.

Handmade with ♥ in Cleveland

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