Buds Plant Co

Buds Plant Co. promotes mental health awareness by selling succulents kits with personality.

After being tasked with creating a start-up company as a class project, a group of graduate business students pondered how to complete the assignment while having a positive impact on the campus community. The end result was Buds Plant Co., a business selling succulent kits featuring fun stickers and personalized details. The proceeds go toward Active Minds, a national organization that works to end the stigma surrounding mental health.

In the beginning of the program, Buds Plant Co. director of marketing and graduate student Carly Boyles said she and her peers were tasked with doing market research on product ideas.

“We came up with a succulent kit, kind of on a whim,” Boyles said. “We had another product idea, and we realized that with the budget we’re given for experience, it wouldn’t have been feasible to produce the product that we initially had in mind. We were sitting on the couch and talking about how stressed we were, because we didn’t have a good idea.”

Since the group was brainstorming product ideas around the time of the Olympics, Boyles said headlines about gold medalist Simone Biles were all over the TV and drew their focus toward promoting mental health.

“It just kind of all came together at once without us expecting it ­— kits that were centered around mental health awareness,” Boyles said. “It was pretty easy for everyone to agree that this would be a good product to sell, so we decided to run with the idea to do some more research on it. At the end of the semester, we presented it to one of our professors who was in charge of value creation. He loved the idea and we had the gist of the personalities then, and everyone just loved how it’d be a little family.”

The next step, Buds Plant Co. director of research and graduate student Lexton Garrett said, was accumulating inventory.

“We got all of our inventory and all the boxes, all of the succulents, all of the stuff that goes inside of our kits, like the stickers to personalize the succulents, the personalized name cards that give each of our kits a personality and then the stuffing that goes inside of the kit to make it look nice,” Garrett said. “We package each succulent ourselves. These succulents can act as a friend to our customers or just be something to take care of.”

Buds Plant Co. product coordinator and graduate student Sydney Kelley said the group’s main mission is to create conversation among college students and young adults regarding mental health.

“A struggle with mental health is something that is extremely prevalent in our society,” Kelley said. “We’re all coming out of a really difficult, unprecedented time in history. Whether it’s in your personal life or it’s at work or at school, everyone has had some type of negative impacts by COVID-19.”

When they were looking to launch the company, Kelley said the group came to the conclusion that though succulents are fun, the real focus would be on mental health and “fighting the stigma” by advocating for college students.

“We’re in the perfect place to target that demographic,” Kelley said. “We’re also wanting to provide them with that feeling of community and that they aren’t alone in their struggle with their mental health. Not everyone has a good relationship with it, and it comes in different shapes and sizes, but we want people to know that we can empathize with them and that we’re here for them.”

Going forward, Kelley said the business will end in December so the students can continue with their program.

“That’s just our due diligence to ourselves,” Kelley said. “It’s been really interesting and fun and definitely a challenge to run a startup business, but at the end of the day, we want the mission and goal of this business to continue. We want to leave some type of footprint at A&M where maybe we inspire some other students and they’re able to adapt the mission of the business to fit their own idea, instilling some type of change and having a positive impact.”

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