In his west-end plant shop Savereign, A.J. Arellano’s work exudes an eye for design and an appreciation for everything aesthetic.
His appreciation for retail and design developed at an early age through many family trips to New York, which included looking at and visiting unusual, boutique stores.
“That’s when I knew I wanted to own some form of shop,” Arellano said. “I think I was 12 years old when that happened; I just didn’t know obviously what kind yet.”
His knowledge of retail grew through his time working with J. Crew.
Arellano’s love affair with plants began while he was living in Chicago.
“I suffer with depression and up there where it’s snowing and cold and dark, that’s when it was at its height,” he says. “My mom introduced plants to me. I started collecting more and thought it made my house feel nice and then realized that it was actually making a change in my energy and my depression wasn’t as much anymore.”
While plants have played a life-changing role in Arellano’s mental health, his keen eye for design and understanding of creation have been what set his business apart.
Upon opening Savereign, Arellano knew that he was choosing a risky path, but he says it just fell into place.
“It wasn’t planned, it was perfect,” he says, adding that the timing worked out impeccably with the recent rise of greenery in interior design.
Arellano’s passion lies in making people happy, and he thinks that plants can have a huge affect on an individual’s happiness.
“It’s all about the way its done,” he explains. “Large businesses will have a very cold version of what a plant can be and they have it there knowing the effects that it can still have.”
The benefits that greenery have had on his mental health are the root of the reason that he wants to share it with others in a retail store, he says.
Arellano explains how his store brings its own set of challenges that are different than typical retail stores, such as having to care for the plants and ensuring they are thriving.
“It’s a lot more work than most stores,” he says. “I had to come in yesterday (on a snow day) and make sure the little guys have water. I have to figure out how inventory is going to work, which I am still perfecting. One day someone will want one thing and the next day someone will want literally everything.”
Arellano hand-picks his plants and uses his eye for design to create a truly unique retail experience.
“I want everything to be very curated and personal,” Arellano says of his store. “Design to me is something that is very personal and you either have it or you don’t and that’s why there are people like us around. But this store is my brainchild. Every single thing is something that I want to see.”
Arellano says his success lies in his ability to find and exist in a niche that is unlike others in the area. He says he has been very pleased with his first four months of business, and hopes that his passion for plants, love for design, and curated space will help him find continued success.