Toronto university students beat lockdown boredom by starting plant business
After meeting last summer training for work at Canada's Wonderland, two Toronto engineering students decided to turn their pandemic boredom into a plant business.
U of T mechanical engineering student Carson Lau, 20, and York University civil engineering student Marcus Ariello, 18, started Re-Plant-Did in November.
The job at Canada's Wonderland didn't materialize, as although they were on standby, the amusement park never opened last year.
The friendship between Lau and Ariello stuck, and they started studying together as a way to keep motivated.
"Online school has been kind of tough for us because engineering courses aren't really designed to be taught online, so it has been kind of rough," said Lau.
They were also looking for a way to relieve the monotony of life under lockdown.
"That's why we started this company, just to get some time away from school," said Lau.
Since they aren't commuting to school anymore, they have an extra couple of hours each day to devote to the business.
"This was more of a passion project," said Ariello. "I don't think we wanted school to be our everything."
Ariello came up with the idea. He grew up helping in his Italian grandfather's garden in Toronto, and developed a love for plants.
"I took the garden to the next level," he said.
Ariello developed an aquaponic system as part of his course work. After the major project, he became more interested in house plants.
Some of the materials from the project, such as the grow-lights, are now useful for their succulent plants. They ordered the succulents wholesale, but are now trying to grow their own.
The business is eco-conscious, and the plant pots are usually up-cycled and repurposed containers such as old teacups, found online on trading sites.
"We look for ways to better our environment," Ariello said.
When they started in November, they had a surge of orders for Christmas gifts. In total, they have sold about 30 plants so far.
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