NOT YOUR AVERAGE SEED COMPANY
Yes, True Leaf Market sells seeds. But that is only one of many product categories they offer. Perhaps more importantly though is the way in which they do what they do. Seeds, supplies, growing kits, and more – this expansive, slightly unique product offering serves the gamut of growers, in a digitally seamless, and 'freightfully' fast way.
Now, freightfully isn’t a word – but it’s used knowingly because True Leaf’s speed is transformative in the horticulture industry, and the words should reflect that. Today’s home growers are living in an order-today-get-it-tomorrow world; and True Leaf Market is meeting these consumers where they are at with seeds, supplies, growing kits, and more.
HOW IT ALL BEGAN
It’s difficult to know where to start, because there were many separate ‘beginnings’ in this story, and after a lot of crissing, crossing, and merging personal paths, True Leaf Market became a company in 2014. But let’s start a little farther back, with Parker Garlitz and Kaitlin Jones.
This brother-sister duo combined their independent passions to start Wheatgrasskits.com in 2000. Parker provided the technical know-how for the eCommerce side of their first business, and Kaitlin (pronounced KAT-LYNN) brought the passion and energy for wheatgrass. Together they sold the products necessary to grow and juice wheatgrass at home - online.
Setting the Scene: Do you remember what the internet was like in 2000? Dial-tones, MySpace, and MSN chat…does that ring a bell? This was even before the ever-embarrassing one-liner status updates on Facebook.
From their very beginning, Parker and Kaitlin have been on the cutting edge of technology, harnessing it for successful business growth and operations. Growth in the first five years came in the form of product line expansion into varieties of indoor grow kits and supporting supplies for harvesting said plants; plus, of course, marketing and referrals.
The next chapter of growth came through acquisitions and mergers, in that order.
First, Parker and Kaitlin acquired Handy Pantry, a seed company with roots that started in 1974. (Remember this date, it’ll be important.)
The next 8 years or so had them busy consolidating the businesses and product lines, learning and growing the brick-and-mortar side of seed sales, enhancing their online sales experience, and expanding to the point beyond what their garage could support. In 2009 they built a warehouse; and while they were doing this, another duo’s story began.
Lance Heaton and Robb Baumann, a college-friend duo, were on the hunt for a lifestyle business to buy. That business ended up being Mountain Valley Seed Company, which was a mail-order seed company originally founded in 1974. Coincidence?
WHEN IT JUST MAKES SENSE
Seeds. Growing Kits. Supplies. 1974. There was strong commonality between the two duos’ businesses – which they both recognized after their paths crossed in 2014. Each business had strengths to offer one another, so the four owners merged; and the rest is history, as they say.
At the time of the merger, both companies came together into one 75,000 square foot warehouse in Salt Lake City. Today, their warehouse is twice the size; same goes for their revenues (probably more). Staying on the same growth and operations plans, True Leaf Market continues to develop new products (in the form of seed varieties, kits, supplies), acquire brands, and deliver state-of-the-art digital commerce experiences.
GET MORE PEOPLE GROWING
Their mission is to get more people growing. It’s important to note the word choice here: growing. Not gardening. Gardening can feel exclusive at times, specifically for new growers and those in an urban environment where space for a garden isn’t possible. By committing to growers, True Leaf can support everyone on the growing spectrum. And they do.
“Since our inception, True Leaf Market has been dedicated to helping anyone begin gardening or sprouting, so we try to provide as much customer support and online growing information as we can because we believe that when we all grow together, we grow together.”
For novice growers, True Leaf provides solutions that make it as easy and fool-proof as possible to get started and be successful in a crop. For at home gardeners, the seed varieties and tools needed are readily available. And for professional farmers, bulk seed can be shipped across the country.
And perhaps most importantly, True Leaf Market provides for growers in a way that’s never been done before. Their expansive product selection – 100+ SKUs added monthly – is easy to order, quick to ship, and guaranteed in quality. What you order today, ships tomorrow, and arrives a day or two after that; and what you receive is beautiful, high quality, and ready to use. And if it’s not, they’ll make it right. True Leaf Market is in the business to have happy customers, and they have the products, brands, technology, and team in place to make this happen.
GROWING TRULY MADE EASY
True Leaf is truly making it easier and more enjoyable for people to start growing through their wide selection of growing kits. Their all-in-one packages make it simple and convenient to grow everything from sprouts, microgreens, herbs, and more. With over 50 kits available, they have options available for the novice to advanced grower.
But how did their growing kits come into being? It goes back to 2000, when Parker and Kaitlin launched their flagship wheatgrass kit. Kaitlin saw a need that was not being filled for growing wheatgrass at home. There is a particular technique to growing wheatgrass correctly and it can be difficult to figure out on your own, but once you know the trick to it, it’s easy. So rather than just sell the seeds or supplies to do it, they decided to put together a complete experience out of the box that also included step-by-step instructions to do it right.
"Back in the day, if you wanted to grow wheatgrass, you’d have to buy trays from one supplier, seeds from another, and probably potting soil from a third, and then you’d have to buy a book, or spend a bunch of time online to figure out how to do it. A kit solves all of that quickly and easily."
The real value of the growing kits is in the knowledge and step-by-step instructions of how to get started growing which helps True Leaf achieve two main goals. The first goal being for customers to have a fun, rewarding, and healthy experience growing, right out of the box. Whether it’s a complete indoor growing experience like microgreens, or an outdoor growing experience with hanging baskets, container gardens, or full backyard garden. Secondly, to bring more folks into the hobby of growing things. They want everyone to experience the joy of growing.
Growing Kits Shown: Mini Pet Grass Kit (top left), Sectional Hydroponic Microgreens Starter Kit (bottom left), Organic Wheatgrass Growing Kit (right). Kits feature inserts and flats from T.O. Plastics. Visit True Leaf Marketing - Growing Kits to see all growing kits available.
ELEVATING, HONORING & SUPPORTING THE INDUSTRY
The horticulture industry goes WAY back; through that lens, True Leaf Market seems like a new player in the market. Their fresh perspectives applied to the long-standing approach to seed supply was a breeding ground for transformation in the industry. Innovating around processes and products in horticulture is core to who True Leaf Market is and how they do business. Here are just a few examples:
- SEED DELIVERY: What typically took weeks or months, can now be done in days.
- SEED/SUPPLY PURCHASE: What once required a trip to town, can now be done in the palm of your hand and delivered to your door.
- INVENTORY MANAGEMENT: What used to be tracked on paper, can now be managed real-time in their custom built ERP system.
- GROWING: What once required outdoor space and a significant investment, can now be done on a windowsill in an easy-to-grow kit.
- GROWING SUCCESSFULLY: What was once only learned through training, books, and trial-and-error, can now be taught through instruction and education available free online.
- WHEATGRASS JUICE: What once cost $3-5 for an ounce of juice at a health-foods shop, can now be grown and juiced at home for pennies on the dollar.
This innovation is elevating the industry, and providing opportunities for growers, farmers, and other players to do the same.
While True Leaf Market believes in the power of transformation, they also seek to honor their roots and the development of the industry. One example is their scholarship, offered in the name of Mountain Valley Seed Company owner, Demetrios Agathangelides (‘Deemo’). Every year they award one student $5,000 to continue their education in the agricultural sciences. A second example is their sponsorship of events and associations, like the Pumpkin Regatta they co-sponsor with the Utah Giant Pumpkin Growers Association.
True Leaf Market is not your average seed company. With great respect for the industry and an eye for opportunity, this team will continue to get more people growing in ways that are fast, fun and gratifying.
If you are interested in a printable version of the Hort Life Chronicles, you can download it here:
- True Leaf Market Team Member: Parker Garlitz