Bringing the Subtle Art of Nature Closer to Home – the CEO of Plantoopia, Uvini Wellalage

As the world’s interest in living a more therapeutic lifestyle grows, the plant industry has seen an unexpected surge. Bringing a bit of nature into the concrete jungle, Plantoopia strives to deliver nature in a convenient spot under the illuminating nourishment, Uvini Wellalage, CEO of Plantoopia. Holding hands with the co-founder and COO of Plantoopia, Devika Somanayake, Uvini has rooted the great brand of Plantoopia under the light of the passion she always had as an aspiring entrepreneur. Sharing the strong bond of both blood and business, this duo has grown their deep-rooted passions into a well-grounded company as united creative visionaries.

Uvini has always hoped to build an authentic brand, which eventually led her to be the Founder of Plantoopia, with a wallet of educational qualifications supporting her treasured experience in the fields of business administration, customer relationship management, marketing, and business development. She was schooled at Vidura College, Colombo and graduated from the University College Dublin, Ireland – NSBM and NIBM. As her foundational educational grounds as a graduate from University College Dublin, Ireland powered her instinctive taste for entrepreneurship, Uvini discovered the creative notion of Plantoopia as a part that has always been close to her heart and family. Being a part of a family of plant lovers, the plant that was placed on her desk, crafted with care in a hand-painted clay pot, led her to come up with a vision that gave birth to Plantoopia. Plantoopia was established with precision and tender care, from its name to its overall branding.

“Finding the right name for this startup was one crucial step we took. It was necessary to pick a name that we were passionate about and that fit the brand values. Living in a place full of plants, or rather a “topia” full of plants, made this task easier. As a result, we came up with the name “Plantoopia” because it sounded cool and catchy.”

As Uvini envisioned, Plantoopia was founded to infuse beauty through greenery and enhance one’s connection to the natural world. Making finished ornamental plants accessible to the general public and elevating the experience beyond conventional ways of buying plants, the brand was set out to break new ground. Initially operating as an online business model on Instagram, their first products were only small plants that were planted, potted, decorated, and home-delivered as ready-made items.

As the pandemic took place, Uvini noticed that the online space stretched itself and, with that, the houseplant community grew in a noticeable manner. While expanding their horizons taking the most out of this golden opportunity, in just three months after inception, Plantoopia was established at a new height as it was approached by one of the leading supermarket chains in Sri Lanka, Softlogic Glomark. Although this was a huge leap, the brand powered through the limitations caused by the pandemic as Uvini’s determination to succeed remained solid.

“Collaborating with a giant like Softlogic and having our plant buds accessible in their Supermarket Chain- Glomark was definitely remarkable.  Moving on from small desk plants, we stepped into bigger plants desired by corporate offices, residences, cafes, and restaurants to green up their spaces. Right now, we are on the verge of outgrowing the customer base in our home country. Expanding into other markets and taking Ceylon Exotic plants to the world is a major task that we are currently up to. “

Looking into their bright future with a hopeful vision, Uvini looks forward to expanding her unique empire overseas. Ensuring the best quality plants that are a fit to the unique needs of their clients, the brand Plantoopia stands to create a convenient solution to incorporate greenery into an urban life structure. A touch of greenery will always give a breath of fresh air, as during the busy lifestyle, one always looks to enjoy at least a flicker of calmness. As Plantoopia offers a conveniently potted indoor or outdoor plant range that is sure to add the therapeutic calmness one searches for, Uvini makes sure to always add a unique creative touch to each plant along with her visionary partner Devika.

“We have a huge assortment of indoor and outdoor plants. Most of these plants are homegrown in our own nursery located upcountry. But there are also certain varieties of plants that we source from local vendors. The planters we use (clay, ceramic, and cement) are also from local vendors. Sourcing locally from our own manufacturers is a big boon to the local economy and uplifts the livelihoods of our own manufacturers. Echinopsis Pachanoi, also known as the San Pedro Cactus, is like our signature plant and can be a great houseplant choice to liven up any space. This impressive cactus is quite fast-growing, and it can reach up to 20 feet in height. She produces beautiful whitish flowers that open at night, have a pleasant fragrance, and measure approximately 9 inches in diameter.”

Exclaiming about the network and specialization Plantoopia offers as a high brand within the niche, Uvini beams with graceful pride at the brand she has sprouted with her dedication. Uvini is hopeful of creating a household brand within the niche, catering to the diverse needs of her customers. From therapeutic house plants to gift hampers, Plantoopia looks forward to spreading its wings among the many opportunities created within related industries such as the wedding market, private parties, corporate events etc.

“A noticeable change that has taken place in the industry is that buying plants has turned out to be a big pandemic trend during COVID lockdowns. As people started spending more time at home, they shifted to a hobby that is more relaxing, rewarding and is sometimes considered therapy. An increase in demand for house plants was in order to fill voids of an anxious mindset which was a common cause during the pandemic. Plants are now considered a luxury item.”

With a trend that is here to stay, Uvini steers the brand of Plantoopia to fit the many requirements of her clients within an affordable budget. As the brand looks forward to its future, it is determined to create a name for itself as an affordable luxury that caters to many clients as they look into adding a fresh breath of greenery to their lives. Under the visionary outlook of Uvini, Plantoopia hopes to grow more and more as it buoyantly looks ahead to shading the many golden possibilities that are yet to come.

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