hello plants toronto

Toronto woman who lost her job starts up her own business that keeps selling out

A Toronto woman who lost her job at the beginning of lockdowns has started up her own business and is now selling out regularly.

Online plant store and delivery service Hello Plants was founded by Ashleigh Paluka in September 2021, after she was laid off in May 2020 from her job as an admissions advisor for a college. At the time, she was working with prospective students applying to Fashion and Arts programs.

"Not unlike many others it all started with losing my job," Paluka tells blogTO. "For the first time in a long time I had all this time to myself. To be honest I was battling with this huge change in my life. Feeling confused and depressed. My life felt it had just changed in an instant. Unsure of what was next for me."

During that summer, she threw herself into her passion for urban gardening, growing her own garden and doing research. She took another job in the same sector in fall 2020, but the position she was in wasn't fulfilling and she quit to pursue Hello Plants full time.

"I didn't feel like I was creating the impact I wanted, to follow what I am truly passionate about," says Paluka. "My little plant business also needed more of my time."

While most people find a house plant less intimidating than outdoor gardening, Ashleigh was the opposite. She was far more nervous bringing plant life inside her home. Once she did, though, everything changed.

"I had never been able to keep more then a bouquet alive in my life," says Paluka. "A single houseplant turned into what felt like 20 overnight and the obsession began."

Like with most obsessions, she found herself talking about plants all the time, and people started asking for her advice on plants.

"With alot of back and forth with myself and a nudge from my husband, family and friends, I decided why not take a chance and start a little plant world I can share," says Paluka.

Hello Plants sells house plants of all kinds, like cacti, spider plants, ficuses, monstera and palms. The site is also organized into helpful categories like "low light," "pet friendly" and "beginner friendly." They typically sell out of plants monthly.

"We are working on bringing in more lifestyle products," says Paluka. "Think all things planty! Sweatshirts, tumblers, plant accessories."

Mainly her future goals are to continue growing her community, and staying focused on being a caring brand that can show people how easy it can be to bring more green into their spaces.

You can order from Hello Plants online or catch Paluka at the many markets she attends. They ship across Canada.

Lead photo by

Ashleigh Paluka

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