This week, as part of our Barnabas Makers Series, we catch up with founder of London Terrariums, Emma Sibley, about the origins of her community-minded business and the benefits crafting with plants can have on your mental well-being.
What is your background – when did you start your company?
I started London Terrariums in 2014. My background is not in horticulture at all. I studied Surface Design at Uni and then went on to work in Ecommerce but have always had a keen interest in houseplants. Living in London without access to a garden I started to make terrariums and I quickly became obsessed by these bottle gardens and my hobby slowly started to become more of a full-time job! We moved into our New Cross studio 4 years ago and this is our base for Terrarium making workshops and general South London plant hangouts.
What kind of workshops do you put on at London Terrariums?
We hold workshops that help people to reconnect with nature. During our Terrarium workshops you will learn the history and science of these self-sustaining ecosystems, before getting stuck in and making your own! We run workshops for children, ticketed events, team-building corporate workshops, as well as plant swaps where like-minded plant folk can meet up and swap their propagations and cuttings.
What do you hope people to learn/gain from your workshops?
I like to think that our workshops are like a moment of calm in someone’s busy day. During the class your main focus is making the plant stand up in the jar – it is a time to leave worries and concerns outside of the room and just enjoy the moment. One of my main loves about the workshops and Terrariums in general is that what people make in the class is not the final result: the plants do grow, so it’s nice to see people take this in mind when planting up. Gardening is all about the long game – planting a seed and waiting for it to grow. Making your terrarium and watching it evolve has the same feeling.
What inspires/informs your work?
We love moss, however in the UK many people see moss as a pest, removing it from their lawn/shed roof. We try to look at moss the same way they do in Japan, in awe of it. Moss is a treasured item for us in terrariums, it creates such a beautiful floor covering for the plants and helps to increase the humidity in the vessel. So for us, Japanese Moss Gardens are a huge inspiration.
5. Where do you source your plants from?
We source our plants and moss from New Covent Garden Flower Market in Battersea. It opens at 4am so heading there is always an early start but as soon as you are there it feels like the middle of the day!
6. Does your practice link to sustainability/the community in any way?
We try to use as much recycled or eco glass as we can, searching antique markets for large antique carboys rather than buying new. We also worked with a local charity Feed The Hill in New Cross to donate 20% of our profits from this year’s Black Friday weekend to help their food bank. As a small business it doesn’t make sense for us to discount, so we wanted to use the buzz of that weekend’s sales to help a charity close to us.
7. What made you eager to put on this workshop at the House?
We absolutely love the ethos of the House of St Barnabas. You see so many members clubs that are only focused on a swanky interior and who they can get through the door, but the fact that the House has a social purpose – helping with homelessness by facilitating training, education and a route back into work through their workshops and initiatives really makes us proud to work collaborate!
Got a bold idea for a creative workshop you’d like to run? Get in contact with us – HERE.