“Being ordinary doesn’t interest me”
Please introduce yourself to our readers.
My name is Alzainah Albabtain, I’m 28 years old and a mother of two. I turned my passion and love for organic home gardening and cooking into a popular insta-blog (@itallgrows) where I share my experiences and tips, and also a successful growing online business (www.plantnmore.com) which I created to help new gardeners find the best products and materials to use in the garden and kitchen.
Tell us about your education.
I studied Visual Communications at the Gulf University of Science and Technology. My major has greatly helped me in conveying my message through social media. I use the skills learned in storytelling to create videos and photography to help my viewers better understand the methods I use in my garden.
Tell us about your career journey.
When first starting to learn about gardening, one can get quite confused (as I was in 2008). A beginner can spend so much money buying incorrect garden products they don’t need. As a beginner myself, I was never satisfied with the products or guidance I found at the local garden stores; the idea of organic gardening and organic solutions was, and still is, not catered for on their shelves. The seeds provided in the stores were the same seeds each and every year. I wanted something more. Also, as a young girl, I found it uncomfortable to shop there and to ask the employees about things they didn’t even know. For example, I hated that they always recommended poisonous insecticides to spray on my vegetables. I thought it would be great if the stores could rid us of the hassle and confusion and provide only the best organic gardening products for us to shop for online.
As the years passed by, my Instagram account @itallgrows was gaining popularity. More and more people were aware of the benefits of organic gardening but it was always an expensive hunt to find organic seeds, soil and fertilizers. The organic gardening trend did not catch on in the stores and the online retail store I had hoped for still did not exist. At that time, I had a 9-3 job in advertising and social media management and always felt like I could do more. This is when I decided to create the solution I was waiting for someone else to provide. I decided to create www.plantnmore.com, an online retail store which provides only the best products which I love and recommend. I want my customers to have a stress/confusion-free experience. With the help of my husband/business partner, I turned my love and passion for a hobby into an actual business. The web store’s success has given me a chance to provide garden and kitchen products which I love. Instead of just recommending products I like to my friends and family, I can now provide them at a reasonable price to everyone. It’s really a joy getting feedback from customers and hearing about the success they have using our products. This is what keeps me going and pushes me to work harder.
How do you manage your time? Describe your average day.
Being your own boss is not always the easiest thing. Sometimes being caught up with taking care of my kids as well as running errands and working in the garden leaves me with little time to focus. This is why I decided it would be best to create obligatory office hours which I dedicate to the tasks I must take care of; whether it’s managing and creating content for my Instagram page, fulfilling the web store’s orders and its customer care, negotiating and researching and acquiring new products or designing and evolving the website.
What is your biggest strength?
My love for ingenuity is a strength I possess. I love doing something different and being different. I always want to create and be a part of something unique. Being ordinary doesn’t interest me. Furthermore, I’m willing and able to self learn skills to help me get to my goals.
Do you have any weaknesses?
I definitely need help with the business and finance side of running the web store. This is where my partner comes in.
I also think my biggest weakness is time management and leaving unfinished tasks unmet. I have so much going on at all times.
Have you made any mistakes that have made you stronger?
Yes. I sometimes post videos that go viral on WhatsApp or social media. I once created a post to promote a product I had worked very hard on and was very passionate about, which was the Spice Pen. It allows you to write on your food using spices. The mistake I made was that I posted the video without adding a watermark or label. The video went viral in the GCC and spread like wildfire. I had no control over it. The product was quickly copied in China and a cheap copy was being sold in every country in the GCC. And guess which video they were using to promote their knock-offs? Mine. Sales of the original product went down and I was robbed of my hard work but there was nothing I could do about it.
What have been the biggest challenges you’ve faced during your career?
Getting gardening products into the country is very difficult even with all the correct paperwork available.
Also, we try our best to bring prices down for our customers, but sometimes shipping costs and delivery costs are higher than we would like them to be.
How do you stay motivated during challenging times?
I go through the testimonials and photos that my customers send me, saying how our products and guidance has made it easy for them to embark on their gardening journey successfully, and how practicing this beautiful hobby has affected their lives. Seeing what a difference we’ve made and how we’re creating awareness about healthy living is always motivating for me.
What do you do to relax?
I definitely find working in the garden calming, relaxing and even therapeutic. Working in the garden is scientifically proven to reduce stress hormones.
What has been your proudest moment so far?
I feel proud for introducing gardening into peoples’ homes.
It’s being able to see the positive change in my followers’ lives. I receive a lot of messages from sons and daughters saying my introduction of gardening into their homes has helped their elder moms get out of the house and has added peaceful joy into their everyday lives. I also receive messages from people saying gardening has helped them shake off their depression and live life more positively. I feel proud of spreading this message and lifestyle.
What is your biggest fear?
Not being able to fulfill my goals.
What is your favourite quote?
To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow.
Name one item in life you can’t do without?
What’s the best advice you have ever taken?
People don’t care about your business. They care about their problems. Be the solution that they’re looking for.
Share three books on your nightstand.
I have none.
In your opinion, what are the three keys to success?
Planning – Courage – Commitment
What is next for you? What would you still like to achieve?
I want to fine tune and improve my still very young website. I want to expand our product lines with more new and exciting products that serve our health conscious and educated audience. I want to better the service we provide to have a happier customer.
What advice would you give to young women starting out in their career?
Don’t start a business thinking how much money it can make. Search for a problem and work on a solution to fix it. Research, practice and evolve; and certainly don’t hurry and rush into opening for business until you’re ready. All businesses start small so don’t belittle your ideas and capabilities.
How does it feel to be a CP Woman of Substance?
I feel honored and blessed.
Your message for the team at CP magazine:
Thank you for your recognition and encouragement.