We've Got Her Back: Kelley Anderson of Art Botanica
All photos by Bree McCool Photography
Entrepreneurship is many things for different people. But one thing's certain: the path is non-linear. The lure of the hustle, setting your own schedule, and following your passion, is what captivates so many of us. Kelley Anderson’s story reminds us that in between all of the planning and overanalyzing, we might be better off to just step out of our own way from time to time.
Kelley is the founder of Art Botanica, a custom botanical art company. She made her big public debut at Create & Cultivate earlier this year, where her gorgeous moss wall served as the backdrop to the countless celebrity-studded photos that flooded our Instagram feeds.
But a year a half ago when Kelley’s entrepreneurial journey began, things looked very different.
She was a new mom, had recently moved for the sixth time in a handful of years, and was on the heels of an emotional divorce. When she first reached for that glue gun, she had been searching for a way to bring art inspired by nature into her home, but was deterred by the upkeep and cost of maintaining a vertical garden. After researching different organic materials that could create the same effect of bringing vibrant plant life into her home, she ordered supplies from Etsy, built her own wooden frame, stained it, and let her creativity take over.
“I feel like it found me more than I found it,” Kelley said. “Nature and art are both really healing for me. The process of making the pieces, finding the piece that I feel like nature brings to me, and the strength I find from that, is what gave me the power to get out of that [marriage]. And then building the business just kind of came naturally after.”
All of Art Botanica’s pieces are custom designed and made from scratch. She sources 100% naturally preserved moss from a woman-owned moss farm in Arkansas, which requires no care or maintenance whatsoever. “Working with living plants is really difficult,” she said. “To keep them alive, you have to be really in tune with them, like what their needs are – and those change – the lighting, the pH of the water. On a living wall, there’s no soil most of the time so it’s hydroponic systems. It’s very labor intensive and costs a ton of money.”
Preserved moss is a sustainable alternative to succulents and wall gardens that still brings the pop of color and life to any space. Because the moss is naturally preserved, it’s also completely hypoallergenic, unlike living art that releases pollen and spores into the air. Kelley creates each piece using four or five different kinds of moss arranged in layers. Depending on the individual design, she incorporates other natural elements in with the moss for contrast and harmony. Watching her work, it’s safe to say that the process is as healing as it is beautiful. “I’ve always loved working with my hands and getting dirty and being in nature. That part was easy,” she said. “It really grounds me in the present moment. There’s something about the beauty of that moment and how simple it is. So for me and my healing journey, I think I needed it. I needed it at that time. I still need it.”
Entrepreneurship can be challenging. Exhausting. Rewarding. But Kelley’s warm and kind demeanor is a refreshing break from all of that constant pushing and working on overdrive. It’s a gentle reminder to all of us that owning our own businesses also means leaving room for things to flow.
“I’m here to do something. It wasn’t until the hard situations that came up in my life that I had to deal with, that I was really forced to dig deeper into that, find meaning life that was more than what I believed in my 20s, a higher purpose,” she said. “When I started to pay attention to that and basically just put out there to the universe to bring to me what I was meant to do here, instead of me trying to manufacture that, or think my way through it, I feel like that’s when flow started to happen. Things came to me and I definitely think that I’m just the vessel for those things to flow through.”