In a tiny shopfront on Hindley Street, a new plant and gift store has quietly bloomed. The former workshop at the front of Youth Inc. – a free, alternative learning pathway for young people aged 17 to 24 – is now home to The Seedling Society, a leafy new pop-up stacked with indoor plants, terracotta pots, bamboo jewellery and scented soy candles. But there’s more to the store than first meets the eye.
The shop is run by students enrolled in Youth Inc.’s Work Ventures program – an opportunity for final year students to get paid work experience and complete a certificate III in business.
“The students who come to us have disengaged from conventional education for a myriad of reasons,” says Youth Inc. Work Ventures coordinator Lauren Lovett.
“A lot of the students we get are around 20 years of age, so they come and some do their SACE, some are doing certificate III in business … But a lot come to have a sense of community and are looking for social connections. They come because they want to learn and connect and develop professional skills,” Lovett says.
“Some haven’t received the support they’ve needed or had issues in their personal life or felt they didn’t belong. Or at the time they were doing commercial education they weren’t ready for it. But now they’re like, ‘Hey I want to do something meaningful’. So a lot of our program, including the Work Ventures one, is opt-in.”
The Seedling Society, which will operate until at least the end of the year, sells products sourced or made by the students in the Work Ventures program. Specifically, its sustainability and events teams.
“The students work in different teams depending on their interests and what they want to get into after Youth Inc.,” says Lovett. “So we have a sustainability team that’s been making the candles, the bamboo jewellery and everlasting posies …
“We have an events team, and they kind of kicked this off because, due to the changing restrictions, some of the big events they had planned got pushed back. They did a plant sale once and said, ‘Hey, can we reactivate this space?’ So they buy succulents, they propagate them as well, they paint the pots and they make the cards and bath bombs.”
The range of plants (priced between $5 and $45) includes succulents, cacti, calathea, ferns, ficuses, star brights, raindrops, monsteras and more. There are also beautiful arrangements of everlasting posies, $15 scented soy candles, and macrame hangers with repurposed curtain rings.
“They try to upcycle as much as possible,” says Lovett, who also runs Littlest Vintage. “And they do that in different areas of the school. We have a ‘chop shop’ where they bring in clothes they’re no longer using ... and it’s free for people to take and replenish.”
The students who work at the shop are paid at award rate, and the money made from sales goes back into their wages and the Work Ventures program. The students are also gaining experience in customer service, POS, visual merchandising and more (they can also offer advice on plant maintenance). The shop, which is open on Fridays only, also doubles as a public access point to the school, for people to learn a little about what Youth Inc is and does.
“Just come and have a chat with these young people,” says Lovett. “They want to have a chat about what they think about education … and a lot are involved in community projects and social impact stuff … it’s a good opportunity to come and see what we do.”
The Seedling Society
110 Hindley Street, Adelaide