Hugging the Block X Lomography: A Day With Pasadena Roots and the Simple Use Camera

In our new series of articles, we're collaborating with Hugging the Block, a community market who's goal is to create support and community for BIPOC and first-generation Latino immigrant entrepreneurs in Pasadena, California.

In the spirit of their mission, we're here today to highlight a day in the life of the team at Pasadena Roots — a Guatamelan family-owned mobile plant and coffee shop — all documented on the Simple Use Camera.

Photos by Pasadena Roots

Hi there, welcome to Lomography Magazine! Can you start off by telling us a bit about yourself and Pasadena Roots?

Hello Lomography, thank you for this opportunity. We're the proud owners of Pasadena Roots, a small first generation/Latina-owned business founded and run by two dedicated sisters and our amazing mother. Our journey began with a shared dream of creating a space that reflects our culture and promotes community engagement. Pasadena Roots is not just a business; it's a labor of love where we blend our Guatemalan roots with our passion for plants. As a family-led venture, we are excited to contribute to our local community and provide a platform for entrepreneurship and creativity.

Can you tell us a bit about what you decided to shoot with the Simple Use Camera ?

We opted to capture the genuine moments shared with some of our loyal and new customers using the Simple Use Camera. Our mobile plant shop, known as 'La Chula,' (which means cute) a charming conversion of a horse trailer, became a focal point for our snapshots. Utilizing the Simple Use Camera, we aimed to highlight the unique appeal of 'La Chula' and the curiosity and joy it brings to our customers. Our goal was to document the connections formed and the collective enthusiasm for both plants and coffee, creating a visual narrative that embodies the essence of Pasadena Roots.

Photos by Pasadena Roots

How do you decide what moments and aspects of your business to capture with the camera?

We chose to focus on capturing the interactions with our customers, as these moments define the special essence of our business. The conversations often start with plants but have a way of evolving into deeper connections. It's these meaningful exchanges that make Pasadena Roots unique. Using the camera, we aimed to document not just the plantitas we offer, but the personal connections that naturally happen during a rush or during our down time.

Can you walk us through a day of work at Pasadena Roots?

A day at work with Pasadena Roots is a dynamic experience, particularly since we operate from a mobile platform. An hour before opening, we diligently prepare for the day. Our father also plays a major role helping us move the trailer and ensures the trailer is parked safely. We then focus on setting up and watering/arranging our diverse selection of plants based on their light preferences. Pricing is meticulously handled to ensure a smooth customer experience. In addition to our plant offerings, we've expanded our services to include serving coffee and fresh-pressed juices from our trailer. Setting up this additional aspect allows us to enhance our customers' experience and create a unique atmosphere around 'La Chula,' our mobile plant shop. Each day brings new challenges and opportunities, but the common thread is our commitment to delivering quality plants and beverages that our community can enjoy.

Photos by Pasadena Roots

What inspired you to open a plant shop? What about the plant trailer?

Our inspiration to open a plant shop stems from a family-driven venture. Our brother, who owns a cell phone shop called West Coast Wireless in Pasadena, CA generously offered us space to house our plants, allowing us to embark on this journey together. Through a collaborative effort, we split the space, leveraging each other's strengths to foster mutual growth. This symbiotic relationship not only facilitated the establishment of our plant shop but also strengthened the bonds within our family. The ability to support and complement one another has been instrumental in the success of both businesses, creating a shared foundation for growth and prosperity.

The concept of our mobile plant trailer, 'La Chula,' emerged as a response to the challenges posed by the pandemic. Initially starting our business with a tent and table, we sought a more accessible way to share the joy of plant ownership. 'La Chula' was envisioned as a solution to facilitate our pop-up process, bringing greenery directly to diverse neighborhoods and events. Our goal is to establish a unique and mobile community space that not only celebrates the natural world but also fosters meaningful connections. The integration of our love for plants and the vision for a mobile plant shop underscores our commitment to seamlessly weave nature into people's lives.

Can you expand a bit on the community element of Pasadena Roots as well as working with Hugging the Block?

Community is the heartbeat of Pasadena Roots. Beyond being a business, we see it as a hub for fostering connections. Engaging customers goes beyond transactions; it involves sharing stories, offering plant care tips, and creating a warm atmosphere that reflects our shared love for plants and cultural appreciation. Collaborating with Hugging the Block is an extension of our commitment to community impact. Together, our goal is to make a positive contribution to our neighborhood, fostering a sense of belonging and cultural vibrancy. This collaboration not only showcases the transformative power of community partnerships but also serves to amplify the efforts of other BIPOC entrepreneurs in our shared mission of community empowerment.

Photos by Pasadena Roots

What are the hopes for the future of your shop?

The future of our shop holds exciting prospects. We envision Pasadena Roots growing into a vibrant community hub, continuing to bring joy, love and connections through our
plants. Our goal is to expand our mobile presence, reaching even more neighborhoods and events, fostering a deeper sense of community. We aspire to introduce more innovative initiatives, workshops, and collaborations that celebrate our culture and promote sustainability. Ultimately, we aim to be a beacon of inspiration for others, showcasing the potential for small businesses to make a significant impact while staying true to their values. Si Se Puede!

Anything else you'd like to share?

Thank you, Lomography, for providing us with the opportunity to share our story through the art of photography. We appreciate the space you've given us to showcase part of our journey and values.


If you're interested in keeping up with Pasadena Roots, make sure to follow them on Instagram.

written by eloffreno on 2024-01-23 #gear #culture #places #community #documentary #photo-diary #suc #small-businesses

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