Just like our human lives, every plant has a journey. The success of its growth depends on the care it receives, and in turn the one who cares often benefits, too. For A.J. Arellano, owner of new botanicals boutique Savereign in the Village of West Greenville, plants have given him a sense of purpose, requiring his devout attention and care in order to thrive.

A.J., 27, has discovered a kind of self-appreciation through growing botanicals.
“I discovered a love for myself that I didn’t know I had, to care for something,
someone else. They needed me, and I didn’t ever have to question if they did,” he says.

Now, he’s created a space for others to feel the same peace and purpose while connecting community.

The words Love First are visible on the letter-board in the front window. Music fills the air and so does a sense of comfort and ease. The front door is left open to welcome foot traffic off Pendleton Street and the sounds of the neighborhood.

One of the first plants that A.J. loved and cared for was the Staghorn fern, which now hangs on homemade wooden mounts in his shop. Arellano restocks his shop weekly, filling his space with both familiar and exotic greenery. Fiddle leaf fig plants stand tall in corners, while monstera deliciosa arch toward sunlight. Golden pothos hang from the ceiling in baskets. Fuzzy asparagus ferns are displayed on shelves inviting to be touched. 

Natural light bounces off a mirrored disco ball and dances on the walls and across the small jungle A.J. has created. The leaves shimmer, blowing in the breeze. The shelves are stocked with art of local artists and friends, such as Claire Oliver, Julius Ferguson, Katie Fenske, K.C. Christmas, Daniel Crawford, Liz Oveson, Hollowed Earth Pottery, Elemental Ceremony, Geminii Moon, Jocie Pots, and Aaron Hodges. These artists are a reflection of the creative community coming alive in the Village.

Photography by Will Crooks

A.J. also specializes in plant installations for the home and workplace and creates happy, green spaces for people to enjoy. You can spot his plant installations in the Village at coworking space Atlas Local.

A young man walks by and curiously peeks in through the glass. A.J. invites him in; the man lives nearby and grew up only a couple of blocks away, having spent his entire life living in the neighborhood. He immediately walks to a large plant on one of the shelves, an Imperial Red, and touches its leaves in his hands.

This young man makes macrame planters for plants just like the ones A.J. sells in the shop. They exchange information. He flashes his excited smile and looks around the room, eyes wide in awe and appreciation for all that is there, and says gratefully, loudly to A.J., “It’s about time, Greenville!”

A reminder that more is growing here than only plants.