We had the good fortune of connecting with Abby Rupsa and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Abby, is there something that you feel is most responsible for your success?
Since Botanical Living offers landscape design services only and not installation, I feel it is extremely important that the client is heard. I’m not selling a design, I’m really selling a dream. I get the client talking in terms of how they see themselves living in the space. I ask very specific questions because I want them feeling emotional about it. Do they have children, if so, what ages? Do they entertain? Who is around the table with them? Are there pets? What plants do they love/hate and why? I really try to get them to convey their feelings when talking about the vision. I watch their body language and how they interact with each other, as it actually shows me another side of them. Creating a plan that encompasses everything they’d ever wish for, even if it takes time or phasing to complete it, gives them a full picture of their yard’s potential. I don’t want them to see a division of space: inside vs. outside, I want it to be a homogenous extension of the home. Since most people are unfamiliar with landscape installation costs and rarely have a budget in mind, I urge them to let me design the space fully and completely, even if it is something that may not be built for quite awhile. When they have a full design that they can install in phases, they know it will still be cohesive in the future and not feel like an afterthought. Occasionally I have clients who have no ideas or opinions, so I tell them I will design it as if it was my own space and they know their yard is in good hands and that they are getting a thoughtful design. I also try to help educate the client on product. Since I don’t push specific materials or products, I help the client understand the pros/cons and I give them options which they can talk through with the contractor. I never want to over-design, only complement or elevate the aesthetic of the home. Because I listen and design for their emotions and help them get the most out of their space, I’ve never had to advertise. My sole business stream comes through word of mouth and repeat business and I love that I’m becoming “the go-to” for landscape design, as it’s a testament to their trust in me.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
From a young age I have always needed to make the places and spaces around me better. I started my career later in life due to raising children. Once they were at an age where I could enter the working world, I had no idea what I wanted to do, but I knew it had to be stimulating. While walking through a nursery with my mother-in-law, she kept asking me everything I knew about the plants. She suggested that I make a career out of it, but I had never even considered it not knowing that I could actually get paid to do what I considered a hobby. She said, “You seem to love it, so turn it into a career.” The first step was going back to school for landscape design. Raising three children and taking one class at a time, what should have been a two to three semester certificate program, took me four years. It was a long haul and quite a blur, looking back. There were many late nights and babysitters in those days. I started designing one class into my program. I reached out to a landscaper to see if I could draw for him. He agreed, but I was at the mercy of his pricing, so I decided to work for myself instead. Now I have several contractors I refer to my clients and they appreciate that I refer them with confidence. My customers know they are in good hands for installation. Learning how to run a business, networking and building a brand was something I figured out along the way. There was no certificate program for those skills and I attribute my success with my ability to create business friendships and ask for help where needed. I’ve made some amazing connections and for that I’m eternally grateful. Innately, people are eager to help and I pay it forward by mentoring several aspiring designers now too.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I love Denver! Its a small big city with so much to do. I love the vibe in RiNo. There are cool bars, tons of street art and plenty of friendly faces. I’d kill to stay at The Ramble Hotel on 25th and Larimer. It has the swankiest interior which gets my creativity flowing and their bar, Death & Co, mixes some amazing cocktails. Of course, during the summer I’d recommend a stroll through Denver Botanical Gardens and hitting up some live music at any one of the small clubs downtown.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I’d like to thank the Horticulture/Landscape Design instructors at Front Range Community College for showing me the way. They are so knowledgeable and keen on seeing their students excel and I’m grateful for their expertise and encouragement.
Linkedin: Abby Rupsa
Facebook: Botanical Living, LLC
Headshot: Nathan Hindman Various: Tonja Sjerven