We’re so committed to the success and empowerment of women working in horticulture! We’ve experienced the loneliness of working in our male-dominated industry and battled against the stereotypes that try to tell us we can’t succeed here. Our mission is to inspire, educate, and empower women to get outside and get their hands dirty – this may mean working in your own yard for the casual plant lady but this might also mean pursuing a career in horticulture or turfgrass!
We are all for it and use our Industry Spotlight Series to celebrate women who are pushing the limits, changing the game, and taking our industry by storm!
Pretty much everyone we know in our industry has a deep love for plants and beautiful outdoor spaces. This is not the kind of industry you get into because it’s easy money. It takes a lot of hard work, sweat, experience, and studying to be a knowledgeable professional in this industry. But for some people, like Shannon Von Eschen, it goes even further just a love of plants. For Shannon, working in this industry represents the love and lifestyle for an entire family.
Shannon’s work in the horticulture industry has been closely tied to her family since the very beginning. We’ve asked her to tell us more about her journey to the industry and the work that she does with her family’s business, Creekside Tree Nursery. Check out her story!
I married the love of my life after meeting him at the ripe old age of 10! No, really. 🙂 I’d always dreamed of growing up and one day, getting married to him, but that didn’t happen until much later…after we’d been apart for many years going to different middle schools, high schools, and colleges. But to make a long story short, Jason started selling plants on the side of the road on a piece of his parents’ property (at the time) simply to pay for skateboards and to have extra spending money. It was a business similar to a “Lemonade Stand” and it wasn’t until we married, in 2003 at the age of 19, when the business grew in leaps and bounds. With two of us working together, day in and day out, we were able to restructure our college schedules to attend classes opposite days of each other so one of us could remain open for business, while the other focused on getting a degree. If we were going to own/operate + create a successful Tree Nursery someday, we both needed to learn more about which trees and shrubs thrived here and which didn’t (most we learned the hard way!) and we both needed to learn how to maintain a hectic (and separated) schedule all the while learning to operate all of our ever-growing machinery inventory. We each had our own ideas of how things should be run when it came to business practices and sales, but we found out really quickly that we both had the same end goals! We didn’t want to just be a “traditional” tree nursery or tree farm where you could get the same old plant material as the big box stores. We wanted to invest our money and time into heavy machinery and larger, higher-quality trees, and offer a custom, catered experience to every client or shopper so we could set ourselves apart. And really, we wanted to take a risk to see why no one else had a business model quite like this who also sold much larger plant material. Luckily for us, the risks we took in our first years (and there were some pretty low valleys there for a while) paid off in the long run and we’ve loved what we’ve created together–enough that we’re still doing all.the.things that require us to thrive. It’s not just about being “owners,” we both still actively consult with and select trees for our customers, as well as operate the machinery onsite, and/or accompany the off-site installations of our products. It should be noted, however, that since we can’t do it all, we’ve spent the last decade hiring employees whom we’ve trained as our installation crew(s) so that the two of us can focus more on cultivating a product that’s as superior as we can find, as well as being a permanent resource for our discriminating clientele. I genuinely wouldn’t be in this industry without my husband, Jason; but I love to tease him that our business wouldn’t be anywhere near as amazing without me…and thankfully, he totally agrees! 😉
Remember how we said this industry isn’t about quick and easy money? Shannon and Jason have put in the hard work and sweat and have learned through lots of study and years of experience to build the business and lifestyle of their dreams. We are so inspired, personally and professionally, by how they have grown a high-quality business out of their love for plants, love for God, and love for each other. Of course, there are always ups and downs along the road of entrepreneurship so we had to ask Shannon a few more questions.
Q: What would you give as advice to another woman who would like to own or manage a business in horticulture?
A: Even still, it’s a bit of “man’s world,” but don’t let that scare you! Let it empower you! We all have our strengths and weaknesses and I wouldn’t want it any other way and I certainly wouldn’t want to be in an industry without men! (Just me? 😉 ) But I love it when a landscaping crew of all men, or a lead male landscape designer comes in for trees and underestimates who I am and what I’m capable of doing. Seeing their expressions soften when they realize I’m a wealth of knowledge about what we sell and what would work for their situation, or watching their eyes widen when I don’t radio for someone else to load their order, but, instead, jump in the tractor to do it myself, is priceless. I think the best advice I’d have for working in any industry is to make sure you love it! Because that age old saying is true: If you love what you do, you won’t work a day in your life. Well, you might actually work your tail off… but it’ll just be another perk to living the dream.
Q: What do you love most about what you do?
A: The very best part of our business is three-fold. One, we’re immersed in nature, fresh air, and God’s glorious creation every single day–getting to experience all the seasons that change and ebb and flow, it’s so highly therapeutic! Two, we have the flexibility of working for ourselves to create our own schedules and cater to every single client that comes our way so that it’s a curated experience every single time. And three, perhaps my most favorite reason, is because I get to do it with my husband and our 9-year-old son, who’s easily the best gift we’ve ever been given! But having identical schedules, and the same goals, makes life infinitely less complex; and when you’re married to your MVP, life/work/love is nothing short of fulfilling + fun!
Q: What is the greatest challenge you have had in your careers and how have you grown from dealing with that challenge?
A: While we wouldn’t trade our life for anything else at the moment, we’ve had more of our fair share of setbacks which have included the loss of not only money, but key players over the years; and also nearly our entire business when the majority of our inventory washed away in the Thousand Year Boulder Flood of 2013. No matter what we’ve had to overcome, the only way we did it was to focus on one day, at one time. One day. What we’ve learned is that when tragedy hits, we marinate in it for a bit and we don’t make lofty deadlines or goals for the future. Our “future” comes whether or not we’re ready, so it’s okay to take some time. But we’ve found that day by day, we recover, heal, and slowly start to plan again for what we’re after…given where we are. My husband and I joke that we’re professional grievers at this point considering how much loss we’ve truly endured, but we know for certain that without the pain, and all those valleys, true joy at the peak of its knowing is impossible to obtain. Lucky for us, our valleys have also brought us to some pretty high mountaintops accompanied, yes, by joy.
Q: Do you have a favorite plant to share with our Plant Ladies?
A: Oh my goodness how do I choose? Can it be specifically a TREE? I love so many different plants for different reasons, but if I have to choose a favorite, I’d say Spiraea nipponica ‘Snowmound”. Spiraea in general aren’t my favorite (I almost feel bad saying it aloud, ha!), but this particular cultivar is so different. I love how simple it is year-round and yet how hardy it is in our crazy dry and temperature-fluctuation-climate here in Colorado. I also love the profusely blooming white flowers in the springtime that seem to persist for longer than other varieties. And in the winter, they start turning a coppery, sometimes purply black color and I love it even then too! They’re so easy to prune and keep alive, I think that’s what I’ll choose for now. Like this minute. If you ask me again I’m going to pick something else! Haha. #iloveplants #ilovetrees
CONNECT WITH SHANNON
If you are interested in learning about from Shannon and Creekside Tree Nursery, follow her on social media or contact her using the information below!