D.C.’s Newest Plant Store Will Open In Anacostia With A Cafe, Community Hub, And More
Danuelle Doswell and Mignon Hemsley, co-owners and co-founders of Grounded, a plant business that’s going brick-and-mortar in Anacostia.Grounded
Co-founders Danuelle Doswell, 30, and Mignon Hemsley, 29, have signed a lease to open a brick-and-mortar space that will sprout up in the historic African-American neighborhood next spring. The 3,200 square foot space is currently under construction at 1913 Martin Luther King Jr. Ave. SE.
By the time they’re through, Grounded — which now also sells plants and plant accessories online — will be more than just a plant shop. The entrepreneurs want to build a sanctuary with a café and a wellness studio that connects customers to nature through biophilic design — design that works to connect users to the natural world.
“Access to nature is super important for us, just demonstrating the many ways that people … can disconnect and decompress with nature,” Doswell says, noting that people in Ward 8 struggle with many issues, including food insecurity and mental health diagnoses. “We want our space to be a safe haven for all of the things people don’t have access to.”
Hemsley and Doswell will continue offering a wide selection of lush greenery and rare plant specimens, as well as advice to help customers keep their plants healthy. They’re also adding a consulting service where they’ll help curate plant packages for the home.
“Our idea is people will notice us from our plant shop and want to come in and visit us and then stay for a coffee and bring their computer and stay and then come back another day to take a class,” Hemsley said.
Grounded will be located on the ground floor of the MLK Gateway project in Anacostia. Construction is now underway.STUDIOS Architecture.
The café menu will include a variety of toasts (think avocado, banana, and strawberry) and pastries, as well as coffee, tea, matcha and, when possible other items made from fresh, locally sourced ingredients. Beyond that, the café will encourage coworking and offer a space for friends and neighbors to connect in cozy nooks with greenery and light. Hemsley and Doswell point to research that shows greenery enhances your productivity — they want to encourage teleworkers to come in and stay a while.
“We don’t want people to feel like you have to grab a plant and leave,” Hemsley said. “We want it to really feel like a second home for people.
In the wellness studio, instructors will teach yoga, Reiki, meditation, and other classes amid natural elements to promote healing. The co-owners will also lead plant workshops, hiking meetups, foraging lessons and other activities to foster connections with community members who are passionate about nature, wellness, and conscious living.
The duo expect to employ 10 people in the store, and have around 10 contractors as instructors. They see Anacostia as the perfect location for Grounded because it doesn’t have a lot of places for residents to relax and take time for themselves.
“They deserve an oasis to be able to go into a place full of plants in nature and wellness and be able to reap those benefits in their own community,” said Hemsley, who graduated from Thurgood Marshall High School in the neighborhood. “I don’t feel like they have to go across the bridge to experience something beautiful and something different.”
Grounded always planned on opening a physical location but wanted to get through the pandemic first. Doswell and Hemsley estimate they have shipped and installed more than 25,000 plants and 30 different plant varieties across the United States since they launched the company in 2020, a figure that doesn’t include the work they’ve done for corporate clients such as Meta (the parent company of Facebook), ESPN, Nordstrom, and Google.
They’ve also worked with celebrities such as actor Gabrielle Union and gymnast Simone Biles; another fan, R&B singer and D.C. native Ari Lennox, cut “Grounded,” a song in homage to the company.
The relationships they formed in the corporate world helped them land sponsors for events, including hiking, terrarium and pottery making classes at Kenilworth Recreation Center in Ward 7 for Young Ladies on the Rise, and Earth Day programming at the Smithsonian Anacostia Community Museum.
The physical space will help the duo meet more of the people who have supported them. They hired Drummond Projects, a Black-owned architecture and design firm, to bring their space to life. The company’s portfolio includes HQ DC House, a private membership club, and Bronze, a Black-owned restaurant on H Street. Hemsley attended Howard University with the firm’s owner, Jimmie Drummond.
“It just feels great to work with people that we’ve already had a relationship with, so people we can trust, people who we know are doing good work in the city,” Hemsley said. “And, you know, cycling our money back into the community is important, too.”
Grounded will be part of MLK Gateway, a development from Menkiti Group. Other tenants include D.C.’s Department of Housing and Community Development and a to-be-announced restaurant, says Chinwe Odife, Menkiti’s vice president of development. Odife says as a Black woman, it’s exciting to see two Black women take their business to the next level.
“To be a part of and to have the opportunity to actually provide the space for Grounded and these two women, it just fits in line with our mission,” Odife says Grounded’s future plans include continuing a crowdfunding effort to provide free classes at the new location, establishing a nonprofit to help kids and teenagers learn about the outdoors and how to grow their own food, starting a teen hike club, and launching a pop-up community fridge program where they would partner with farms and food access collectives to address food insecurity in Ward 8.
They hope to give away fresh produce boxes at Grounded every month — their goal is working with the community and partners to sponsor at least 300 individuals and families next year. “Just being a pillar of the community is what’s most important for us,” Doswell says.
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