During a visit to Prana Plants, an assortment of large and small plants filled a quaint room brightened by towering windows. At the center stood store owner Chelsea Ritcey, who opened Prana Plants on March 1.
“I fell into the passion of plants after asking for one plant for my birthday,” she said. “I fell down a long rabbit hole after that.”
After working as a front-of-house manager at her partner’s restaurant for the last five years, Ritcey said she was inspired to start her own small business. She decided to use the word “prana,” a yoga term meaning “breath of life,” to name her company.
“It kind of, like, sparked me to want to own my own business, so this was born,” Ritchey said.
Prana Plants specializes in houseplants, including succulents, cacti, and air plants, according to Ritcey.
“I provide a variety of houseplants for the beginner or the enthusiast that love all different species and kinds of plants,” she said.
Store customer Lauren Roche said Prana Plants’ friendly and charming environment made them feel welcomed from the start.
“The atmosphere of the store is so quaint and inviting,” they said. “The warm nature of the owner immediately put me at ease.”
Emphasizing the benefits of having indoor plants, Ritcey said she has enjoyed helping her guests choose a plant for their home.
“People have come in saying, like, ‘Hey, I’ve never had a plant before,’ and I’m like, ‘I got the plant for you,’” she said. “‘We’re gonna figure this out together.’ Having, like, a live green thing in your space makes such a dramatic difference.”
Ritcey said she has made it a priority to support local businesses, both through her plant selection and available planters and products.
“I also support local or handmade as much as possible,” she said. “I have a lot of handcrafted pottery, and I have some 3D printed pots that are made from a plant-based plastic.”
Despite the importance of buying local for Ritcey, she said her commitment to local products has presented some challenges so far.
“The most challenging [thing] at the moment is figuring out a good ordering schedule, especially because I want to support handmade as much as possible,” she said.
One of Ritcey’s top priorities has been to make Prana Plants a safe space for the LGBTQ+ community.
“I have been in the queer community since middle school, and so to be able to have a … safe space so that people can come in and know there’s no judgment or anything here is very important to me,” she said.
Roche said that Ritcey’s commitment to providing a safe space for queer people is meaningful and resonated with them.
“As a queer person, it’s always nice to have a place go out of their way to be accepting and inviting,” they said.
Ritcey said the opportunity to personally select her products and engage with her customers has been the most rewarding part of owning Prana Plants.
A recent development in Ritcey’s personal life has further emphasized the importance of making Prana Plants a welcoming environment for queer people.
“My spouse is transgender, and that is a recent revelation,” she said. “We have been even more forthcoming in saying ‘Hey, please come in and know that you have a safe space to do normal everyday things.’”
Going forward, Ritcey said she hopes her guests will go on a journey with plants and fall in love with them just as she has.
“I want this to be a place for people to be able to support local but also to be able to be adventurous and get a plant that they’ve never heard of before,” she said. “Get it, experience it, you know, and have a little journey with it.
Prana Plants is located at 301 Elliot St. in Newton and is open Wednesday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.