Activist Takes Her Love of Plants to a Whole New Level

In the past couple of years, potted plants have taken over social media. It seems as though everyone has a Monstera Deliciosa or a Chinese Money Plant on their work desk or living room window. And this trend makes a lot of sense – more and more people live in urban areas with very little nature around them, and our long work hours mean having a pet is simply too hard. So how do we get some nature into our homes without taking on too much responsibility? In a pot! But no matter how big of a plant person you are – there’s nobody that’s more devoted to plants than Summer Rayne Oaks.

Summer is a model, Youtuber, and environmentalist with a life-long love of plants, especially potted plants. Her goal in life is to celebrate nature and introduce it to our modern, urban lifestyle.

Summer (yes, that is the name her parents gave her) has always loved nature, and she even studied biology and botany in university. She wanted to continue her education and become a scientist, but she soon realized her real goal in life was to educate the general public. She’s been working with scientists, nursery owners, and activists to help spread the gospel of the urban jungle.

And the most insane detail is her own plants– Summer has over 1,000 of them in her small Brooklyn apartment! Talk about an urban jungle!

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This is the green wall that was assembled—now 7 years ago—in my former workroom, now bedroom.⁣ ⁣ Back in 2009, I started a company called Source4Style, which helped connect designers to more sustainable textile suppliers across the world. Designers were having trouble searching for better, more environmentally and socially conscious materials to create their collections 👗👚, so I really wanted to figure out how to take those pain points away.⁣ ⁣ I partnered up with one of my friends, Benita, and we ran the company out of this room for almost two years—until we won the Cartier Business Awards for North America and raised a round of venture capital—a crazy feat in and of itself considering that women-led businesses were only getting around 7% of venture dollars during that time…a statistic that hasn’t budged very much in the past decade. (A point of discussion for another time!) … My business partner, Benita, went on to run the company (it sold earlier this year), so it lives on, albeit in a different form. ⁣ ⁣ But during the time of running the company, this room was filled with textile swatches 🧵and fabrics from over two dozen countries—Cambodia to India; Peru to the United States; Madagascar to Mozambique. If you swipe to the other pictures, you’ll see images of the old room and from the Cartier competition! ⁣ ⁣ I had always wanted a green wall in this room because the lighting was SO good, but the idea got postponed until 2012. That’s when I got a little of my life back (running a start-up company from your home is an all-consuming endeavor, as you can imagine). Source4Style got a new office space, and I began exploring concepts around other sustainable systems—like 🍅food—and taking the global sourcing concepts that I gleaned from Source4Style and applying them into really hyper local food systems…all while building out the green wall 🌿with Mingo Designs. ⁣ ⁣ The sub-irrigated green wall was a really early concept, so it’s not perfect and it’s evolved in its approach, but I’ve gotten a lot of people ask about it over the last 7 years, so you’ll find more of a how to on Ep 028 of ‘Plant One On Me’ @YouTube, in case you’re curious.

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