In Conversation : Lauren Camilleri & Sophia Kaplan, authors and co-founders of Leaf Supply
Lauren Camilleri and Sophia Kaplan are the women behind Leaf Supply, a plant delivery service based in Sydney. As you would expect, they are gurus in creating beautiful, green indoor spaces and have just released their third book Plantopedia. We were lucky to have a chat with the ladies about researching carnivorous plants, running a successful business in 2020, and they kindly gave us some tips for the non-green thumbs among us.
Congratulations on your new book! What a big project! What has been your favourite part of the creative process? Coming up with all the ideas? Research? Sitting down to write? Seeing it published?
Thank you so much. It always feels quite scary to put our books out into the world, but we’ve had some really lovely feedback on it which is very gratifying. It still amazes us that we are published authors!
There certainly are quite a few stages when it comes to creating a book, from brainstorming ideas, coming up with the design concept, producing shoots, writing the manuscript, to laying out the book itself. One of our favourite parts would have to be the photoshoots. Working with great photographers like Luisa Brimble and Jacqui Turk, and visiting amazing plant-filled spaces like the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney and our friend Anno Leon’s private plant collection is pretty special. Capturing the beauty of plants is a really satisfying experience.
We did a huge amount of research for this book, it’s much more in-depth than our previous, and had the help of plant fanatic Jane Rose Lloyd who did horticultural consulting for us to ensure all the information is totally up to date. We both learnt a lot! Writing the manuscript seems like an insurmountable task and always takes us much longer than we anticipate, but once we’ve sent the final first draft over to our editor Lucy we breathe a huge sigh of relief! Then Lauren gets onto the design side of things and for this book, we collaborated with illustrator Edith Rewa which was a real treat. And finally, holding the advance copies in our hands for the first time is very thrilling!
In researching Plantopedia, what was your favourite bit of information or fact you came across?
Sophia is a bit obsessed with carnivorous plants, like Nepenthes and Sarracenia. Diving into all the weird and wonderful ways they attract and trap their prey, like the California pitcher plant that lures potential lunch in with colourful displays and then confuses them with fake exits, and sundews whose tiny nectar tipped hairs ensnare and slowly envelope little insects is incredibly curious!
We are always so impressed with people who create their vision from scratch. How did Leaf Supply come to be and what lessons have you learnt along the way?
We were introduced by a mutual friend who insisted we should meet because of our shared love of plants. It turned out that we had a similar business idea for an online plant shop, and so we decided to pair up and create it together. A year of research and planning later Leaf Supply was born. Owning and running your own business is a huge amount of work and in some ways it can be hard to switch off, but on the other hand, it does give you a bit more flexibility in terms of lifestyle. It’s important to create something that you truly believe in, and just dive in. You’ll learn as you go.
How has becoming mothers changed the way you work and run your business? I know this question can be interpreted as sexist (you wouldn’t ask a man this etc) but a few of us on the Nancybird team are mums and we’re always really interested in how other parents balance their days.
We have both had babies since we launched Leaf Supply nearly four years ago. We have tried to build flexible work lives for ourselves, and run a workplace that is flexible for our staff too. We understand that life and family balance are hugely important. That being said this business also feels a bit like another different type of baby, something we willingly give a lot too, perhaps just a bit more efficiently now!
I'm an infamous plant slayer, what's the most forgiving house plant for me?
There are plenty of low-maintenance houseplants out there, but the most crucial thing is to purchase plants that suit your environment. Sun-loving succulents won’t survive without plenty of direct rays, while delicate ferns will burn in a hot sunny spot. So assess your home or office and do a little research before making your choice. All that being said, some very forgiving plants include the fast-growing, trailing devil’s ivy (Epipremnum) which comes in various colours including neon green or marbled white and green, Zanzibar gem (Zamioculcas zamiifolia) which is often referred to as the ‘unkillable plant’, and the graphic Swiss cheese plant (Monstera deliciosa) which is a firm favourite of ours.
These are strange times to be running a business, have you had to change the way you run Leaf Supply? Have there been positive changes?
We are lucky that we work in a spacious warehouse and are generally able to have just one person in the studio at a time preparing orders. We actually saw a huge spike in sales over lockdown in Sydney which caught us a bit by surprise but was obviously a small silver lining in amongst all the challenges of the pandemic. It was heartwarming to see all the plants being sent to friends and family and read all the lovely notes being sent along with them.
Now that Sydney is heating up you must be getting into your summer wardrobes. What makes you feel good in your clothes?
We love wearing beautifully coloured clothes in natural, environmentally friendly fabrics. Knowing where our clothes have come from and been made by is also important to us. We have a relaxed style and feel good when we’re looking chic but still able to run after our busy toddlers.
Finally, what's your favourite plant?
Always a tough question to answer, but our go-to is the beautiful, fast-growing, low-maintenance Swiss cheese plant (Monstera deliciosa). At the moment Lauren also has a very good looking queen of hearts (Homalomena rubescens ‘Maggie’), and Sophia has a lush, bright green prayer plant (Geoppertia orbifolia, formerly Calathea orbifolia) that are also vying for the top spot.
Thanks so much ladies! xx
To order a beautiful plant for a loved one or check out their new book, visit Leaf Supply here
Our Summer release is launching this Wednesday 04/11 at noon