Jamie Blomdahl is a proud crazy plant lady – so much so that she built a career out of it. This 25-year-old Swedish-Filipina serves as the Marketing and Store Operations Manager of Qach Lifestyle & Garden, a store selling pots, plants, and other gardening supplies perfect for any stage of plant parenthood. Qach, pronounced as “catch,” currently has two branches: one in Ayala Solenad 3, another in Alabang Town Center, and soon, in Ayala the 30th.
“Qach is my happy place,” says Jamie. “We don’t really see it as a ‘plant store’ but as a chance to transform your space into something greener, a place that would bring you closer to nature.”
Tell us about what led you to do your work.
I was born and raised in the Philippines, but for several years and throughout my university education, I lived in my other home, Sweden. This was a period in my life where my outlook on balanced living and my relationship with nature changed drastically. Swedes are very reasonable people: society has a collective sense of responsibility, conscious consumption is the standard, and everyone has a deep, deep love of and respect for nature. We would spend so much of our free time outdoors (yes, even during winter!) and I guess at our core, being so close to nature is where we find balance. Even as a student with the tiniest studio back then, I would always be growing my own food from food scraps, keep an herb garden in my kitchen, and fill empty glass jars with stolen cuttings of various plants from my dad’s place.
When I moved back to Manila, I felt at home, but at the same time out of place in the city. I liked my job in branding, but I didn’t want to spend my days cooped up inside an office. When the opportunity to be part of something plant-related was offered to me, it felt like everything started to fall into place.
Tell us about your current work.
In true crazy plant lady fashion, I greet my plants every morning. It keeps me grounded and reminds me of why I’m working with Qach in the first place. Since I wear multiple hats and work both as Marketing and Store Operations Manager, I try to divide my time between our headquarters in Makati and the two stores in the south as much as I can.
Whenever I’m at the store or at our nursery in Calamba, I try to ask as much as I can about plants. I love being able to pick the brains of our in-house horticulturists and resident gardeners and being able to share everything I learn with our customers.
My afternoon schedule is always a fun mix of presenting to new clients with the Qach team, emailing proposals, answering inquiries on social media, or doing house visits to make sure everything is executed well.
When all of that is done, I love ending my day the way I start it: surrounded with plants!
What’s the best and worst parts about your job? How do you overcome the negative parts?
The worst part about my job is dealing with plant death – it’s so hard to convince people that it happens to everyone and that it’s the best way to learn. We’re so sensitive about failure and automatically give ourselves the “black thumb” label after one dead plant. I’m a big fan of sharing my plant failure stories with others. It takes away the stigma of having to be the perfect plant parent!
Plants make people happy, and the best part about my job is that I get to be a part of their plant parenthood journey. We usually guide our customers or clients whenever they have concerns and I receive so many photos of new plant growth or stories about how their plants suddenly look healthier after repotting them, etc. It gives me so much joy to see people create pockets of green spaces in our concrete jungle.
What can people do to help your cause?
Start small. Maybe an office desk plant or choose your favorite herb as a plant in your kitchen? It’s a great way to incorporate nature back into our homes and into our lives.
What three pointers would you provide for people who’d like to start pursuing an environmental lifestyle?
It all starts by being more mindful about your lifestyle. We live in a world where single-use is the norm and fast fashion is the trend, which is why we need to start rethinking the way we consume. Bea Johnson of Zero Waste Home talks about how the spotlight has always been on recycling, but that it’s equally important to highlight that we can:
Refuse things that we don’t need – sometimes it’s as simple as saying no to the free promotional pen or the flyer at the mall that you know you won’t read.
Reduce what we do need – whether it’s reducing the excess food that goes to waste, or reducing 5 different cleaners (kitchen, bathroom, bedroom, etc.) to 1 - a little goes a long way.
Reuse – replace disposables for reusables. Welcome products that are reusable, refillable, rechargeable, repairable, and durable.
Fun fact about a species that you think people should know.
A pineapple is actually a berry! It has a central stalk (the hard part in the middle) and everything else is a mass of individual berries that have grown together, connected to that stalk. I know, we’ve all been living a lie!
What is your why - why you do what you do?
Plants are great for the environment, and they’re also really great for US! They reduce our stress levels, improve our productivity, and enhance our well-being. I want to make it easier for people to create their own green spaces, especially in a city like ours where space is usually so limited. It’s time to transform our concrete jungle into a beautiful, tropical urban jungle.
What are your eco-friendly finds that you always have with you?
I never leave the house without my reusable water bottles (one filled with water and an empty one in case I want coffee or tea on the go), my reusable stainless-steel straws, and two reusable bags. These changes are so simple, yet it’s such a great way to say no to single use plastics.
What is a philosophy or words you live by?
Lagom is a Swedish term that doesn’t really have a direct translation but means “just right” or “in moderation” – it’s the Swedish art of balanced living. I think because we live in a time of lavishness and surplus, it’s nice to take a step back and be more mindful about how we’re living. Learn how to cook, buy things that are designed to last, embrace the outdoors, clear your mind and give yourself time to take it easy.
Follow Jamie on Instagram at @josephineblomdahl and Qach at @qachlifestylegarden, and like Qach on Facebook. Visit Qach in Ayala Solenad 3, and Alabang Town Center.