A Passion for Indoor Greenery Spawns a New Lynchburg Business.

by | Apr 2024

WHAT IS it like when a family legacy causes an accounting major to open an indoor plant shop? Just ask Latia “Tia” Hancock. Tia, as her family and friends call her, opened her store, P.R.E.A.M (Plants Rule Everything Around Me), on Fifth Street in Lynchburg just last year. The story behind her new business begins with some deep family roots. 

Tia spent many of her summers as a child with her great-grandmother, Ruby, in Rocky Mount, Virginia. Grandma Ruby was an avid gardener and provided Tia with a wealth of knowledge about plants and shrubs. As Tia grew up, she had some plants around her home, but instead of pursuing a horticultural degree as some might guess, she chose accounting. Little did she know that she would rely on both her degree and Grandma Ruby’s gardening legacy as an adult. 

Tia said that indoor gardening became something she was passionate about in her home in Lynchburg. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Tia noticed that people were posting pictures and ideas on social media about indoor plants. One problem was that the “big box” retail stores didn’t carry many indoor plants, and their selection of small trees and shrubs was very limited. After some research, Tia found two stores — one in Richmond and another in Charlotte, North Carolina — that focused on indoor plants. She also found similar shops in the smaller nearby communities of Staunton and Charlottesville. 

She figured, “If Staunton and Charlottesville can have indoor plant stores, we can in Lynchburg, too.” 

Several of her friends urged Tia to take some business classes through the CO.STARTERS program. According to FINSYNC, CO.STARTERS empowers entrepreneurs with the essential knowledge and resources to go from business idea to action. 

Tia’s big break came in 2023 when, after a number of friends notified her of the program, she applied for and won a grant through Launch LYH, a program that supports entrepreneurs. Tia remodeled a store on Fifth Street and opened P.R.E.A.M. The name pretty much sums up Tia’s love for indoor plants. 

Since opening her shop, Tia has seen a steady stream of customers who want to bring more green into their homes. She revealed that her customers are looking not only for new plant ideas but for the accessories that go with them. 

For those who say, “Oh, I don’t have a green thumb,” Tia suggests, “Once you get into it and maybe have a little more information, you’ll feel confident to at least try your hand” at indoor planting. 

Tia offers classes on how to design terrariums and on what types of soil to use with which plant. She also hosts “paint and sip” nights, where clients can paint planting pots while enjoying a variety of wines. Her workshop also hosts birthday parties focused on indoor plants. More recently, she began “House Plant 101” classes for those just beginning to pursue indoor planting. Tia notes that learning about indoor plant care is a perfect pursuit for those who rent an apartment or townhouse and don’t own land. 

Tia also brings in plant experts who, much like her Grandma Ruby, share their expertise for those interested. At the same time, Tia said she’s constantly educating herself through reading and watching videos about new plant varieties and how to care for them. She is also a member of the Lynchburg Garden Club, which often meets in her store. 

Tia is quick to point out that her Grandma Ruby, who passed away last year at 103 years old, was very well known in Franklin County — not only for her gardening but for her service in her church and the community. One of the major takeaways Tia has from her years learning gardening from Grandma Ruby is the idea of what she calls “generational wealth.” The concept is not necessarily focused on passing down monetary wealth from one generation to the next but on handing down skills, interests, and knowledge that the next generation can keep passing along. It’s this “generational knowledge” that Tia hopes she’s passing on to her family as well as those who come to her store. 

In addition to P.R.E.A.M., Tia continues with her accounting business. She admits that the transition from running an accounting business during COVID-19 to running a brick-and-mortar store was challenging, but she loves it. 

“I get excited still about seeing a new leaf pop up,” Tia shares enthusiastically. GN 

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