BeyondFountains (the blog)

Jennifer Khal
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As small business owners there is no shortage of grand ideas and plans. Trust me when I tell you that my lists have lists. It's true. Ask anyone who knows me and they will attest to me always having a notebook and a pen in hand, adding to or crossing off my list du jour. I'm lucky in that I get to do this business with my husband of 34 years. Call us crazy, but it works. One of the things that helps in deciding which ideas to pursue and which to leave on the drawing table is to ask three questions - What? How? and Why? It's actually a terrific method for deciding lots of things, both personal and professional. Take our decision to offer our already very successful in-house workshop series out on the road.  What? Offer our attendees an opportunity to learn something new, make something fun and enjoy food and adult beverage at the same time. How? It seemed rather a natural to partner up with other local business owners to the benefit of both businesses. We offer our customers an opportunity to be entertained and engaged in an activity while enjoying a cocktail and maybe a bite to eat. The food and beverage venue gets new clients who may have not otherwise frequented their establishment. Why? This is where the answers get longer because there are just so many "why"s! 1) How many times have you looked at your partner and discussed "doing something" but didn't just want to go to a movie or out to dinner again. Our workshops have always offered something new to do, but by taking them out on the road, our attendees can enjoy a cold beer or a glass of wine at the same time. Couples can hang out and experience a grown up "play date". 2) Partnering with other small businesses is for the common good. We have always had a philosophy at The Secret Garden to join up with others whenever possible. If we don't all stick together and help each other out, who will?  If small business doesn't succeed, then all we're all left with is Costco, Walmart and the likes. And while my family will certainly no doubt shop at both of those places several times this year, is that the only choice I want? Definitely NOT! 3) Being around plants is healing. Literally. Science has proven again and again that just having your hands in the soil is actually beneficial for your health. Having plants in your life reduces stress, improves your air quality, helps you sleep better, improves concentration, etc etc etc. Now I know these facts already and well, let's just say that the last time I watered my houseplants I counted 42!  Maya Angelou was quoted as saying "When you get, give. When you learn, teach". I take that second part quite seriously. By taking our workshops on the road, we will be reaching more people. By making the workshops fun and engaging (with a nice cold beer) we'll get some involved that otherwise wouldn't have attended. By helping people learn more about plants and how to care for them properly, then they can be successful in caring for their plants. Then maybe they will continue to expand their knowledge and in turn help others see the value and importance of having plants in their lives. I know it's a lot. But that's the major "Why". Because Plants Heal and because I'm saddened every time I hear someone say "I have a black thumb and I can't keep anything alive". So we're taking our show on the road, as they say. Terrarium Nites and Suds & Succulents events will be popping up in restaurants, breweries and wineries near you. So keep your eyes open and watch us bring "plant shenanigans"** to people all over town.   See you soon, Jennifer ** fabulous term borrowed from my friend Warren Keller at Warrens Garden in Lompoc.
Last night, as I was looking for an email someone said they sent me, I wandered into my SPAM folder. There, among the sales pitches, I saw an email from the KCRA A-List Contest. It's been a very busy Spring. I had not even realized that the contest was underway. I followed the links and soon realized that without any fanfare or participation on my part, The Secret Garden was sitting in 11th place out of 32 contestants. Not bad, but not where I wanted to stay. I tend to be a little competitive. I like to be liked. Heck, I'll admit it, I like to win! So I copied the link to the voting platform and posted a note on our Secret Garden Facebook wall asking for help getting me in the top 3. I watched a few people respond with a "Like" and a few made comments that they had voted. Awesome! When I woke up this morning I was impressed and thankful for my social media followers that they had indeed voted and pushed me up to 2nd PLACE! Wow! Double Awesome!! All a silly game? Definitely not! Back in 2007 when this A-List Contest started we placed 3rd out of 10 entries. In 2008 and 2009 we placed FIRST with 18 contestants. The most important part of winning wasn't the certificate (although that's fun to have). No, the MOST IMPORTANT thing was how it drove our web site up higher in search engine results. A little mom and pop store like ours doesn't have the big budget to run ads that place you on top of the search engine page and our web site did not have the traffic history to get to page one in a search organically. BUT, by being part of KCRA's page, and being recognized as #1, well that made a HUGE difference.   Ten years later there are 32 contestants. My original goal yesterday was to end up in the top 3. Today, after looking at the numbers that I'm privy to as a contestant, I see I only need 51 more votes to move into 1st Place.......  51 votes!.......... I have 3900+ customers that receive emails. I have 2900+ Facebook fans, I have 1200+ Instagram followers........Imagine the possibilities.....Do you remember what I said about being a little competitive? We're not talking about needing 1000's of votes. We're talking about needing maybe 100. Please don't rely on the other customer to vote. I NEED YOUR VOTE! And so I ask you....Would you be willing to do your part to support a local, small business by spending a few minutes voting for The Secret Garden in this year's KCRA A List Competition?  And if you do decide to help us out, would you please also leave a comment about what you like about our store as well. It's one thing when I say something in print. It's 100 times more effective when YOU say something about us in print. Maybe you enjoyed taking a class, or attending a special event. Or maybe your daughter was here for a Girl Scout outing or your family found their Christmas tree here. Whatever good memory you have, we'd love for you to share. I can't thank you enough for your help. Click here to cast your vote: Remember, it takes a village to support a small business. You're my village! Jennifer
In ancient times we lived with the plants. Then as we domesticated we moved indoors and plants were left outdoors. For most people through history, homes were too dark and cold to sustain plant life. It is said that the Emperor of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzer, was one of the first to formally domesticate plant life when he built the Hanging Gardens of Babylon for his wife.So while in ancient cultures it was generally only the very wealthy who could have plants indoors, plant lovers today keep them not only for the sheer beauty, but also for their proven health benefits. Recent studies have shown that having plants in your home reduces stress, reduces air pollution, reduces allergens and reduces toxins.Remember those grade school science classes where you learned about photosynthesis? And I thought I'd never use any of that information! So quick recap - we take in oxygen and release carbon dioxide. During photosynthesis, plants absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen. Plants and People; Perfect Partners. At night when photosynthesis ceases, most plants then respire like us, taking in oxygen and releasing carbon dioxide. However, a few plants, like orchids, SUCCULENTS and epiphytic bromeliads (AIRPLANTS) do the opposite. At night they take in the carbon dioxide you're exhaling and release oxygen. These are excellent plants to place in your bedroom to help refresh the air.Plants also release 97% of the moisture they take in. They do this by releasing moisture vapor and thereby increasing the humidity around them. Studies show that simply by placing a few plants together in a room you increase humidity and thereby decrease the instances of dry skin, sore throats and dry coughs.And what about claims that show plants reduce the toxins in your home? Studies show that plants do indeed remove up to 87 percent of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) every 24 hours, according to NASA research. VOCs include substances like formaldehyde (present in rugs, vinyl, cigarette smoke and grocery bags), benzene and trichloroethylene (both found in man-made fibers, inks, solvents and paint). The NASA research discovered that plants purify the air by pulling contaminants into soil, where root zone microorganisms convert VOCs into food for the plant. Plants and people; Perfect Partners! Do you need some Plant Partners in your life? Visit me at The Secret Garden and I'll help you get started. Jennifer

The Secret Garden
8450 West Stockton Blvd
Elk Grove, CA 95758

Phone: 916-682-6839



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