What kind of business can an unemployed woman with preschoolers underfoot grow from home?
Ask Dee Dee Fox that question, and she'll tell you "Any kind of business that interests her."
Dee Dee is the owner of Plant Parenthood, Inc., a commercial interior landscaping company that designs interior environments, installs and does live plant maintenance for corporations, restaurants, hotels and other commercial establishments. Located on Long Island, NY, her business, which now has over 100 commercial accounts, began as a home party business in 1972 when her daughter was 3 years old.
"It worked something like a Tupperware party, Dee Dee says. She'd recruit hostesses to invite groups of 20 or more people to their homes to hear her "dumb thumb" lecture on plant care. In return for hosting the party, the hostess would get a percent of the profit from merchandise sales.
The business turned over a new leaf when one of her suppliers suggested she call a local department store that had bought $10,000 from the grower. The plants were dying, the grower said, because the store didn't know how to take care of them.
She got the assignment and worked on the plants while her daughter was in nursery school. The plants flourished under her care, and before long she landed an account to design and install interior landscaping for the Grumman Corporation, which at the time was Long Island, NY's largest employer.
Today, Plant Parenthood, Inc., which is still homebased, has annual sales of $350,000. The corporation has a crew of 7 and has won numerous awards for its design and maintenance work. Dee Dee attributes her success to the personal attention and care she and her crew give each account. In addition to running the company, Dee Dee, who is a Certified Interior Horticulturist, teaches interior landscaping at SUNY Farmingdale, NY.
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