Shawnee woman who found passion for succulent plants during pandemic, now wants to sell creations

Into the Mystic Succulents is a new small business by Shawnee couple Natalie (right) and Scott Stackhouse. Natalie grows and arranges the plants, and Scott handles the business side. Natalie said the plants helped pull her out of a depression that started during the COVID-19 pandemic. All photos courtesy Natalie Stackhouse.

Shawnee couple Natalie and Scott Stackhouse have launched a new business growing and selling succulent plants.

Into the Mystic Succulents officially launches in mid-September to offer a variety of large and small starter plants as well as hand-painted terra cotta pots and custom arrangements.

Natalie also makes and sells her own succulent soil mix, which she concocted over months of experimenting with these plants in the Midwest’s humid climate.

Some of Natalie’s succulent arrangements are still hanging at the Red Robin restaurant in Olathe.

Natalie branched off from this hobby of nurturing and arranging succulent plants and made her first custom orders around Mother’s Day this past May.

Since then, the couple has probably sold about 70 plants and arrangements.

“It felt good to have my work out there, and it’s something I do as a hobby, but someone else saw some value in it and then paid me on top of it,” Natalie said. “That was just cake.”

The succulent plant business started out as a side thing for Natalie, who, to the surprise of family and friends, fell in love with the plants — which are typically more adapted to arid climates — while working at her full-time job helping manage a local Red Robin franchise.

It started when her employer had tasked her with finding some plants to decorate the patio for the outdoor dining season, which grew in importance during the first pandemic summer in 2020.

“They go through a lot of changes and I watched that all summer, and I just started thinking I want some of these for my house,” Natalie said. “The more I read, the more independent research I did, the more I was just getting fascinated about… I bet I can do what I can to re-create their natural environment and see what they do.”

Finding inner peace and joy in growing plants

“I celebrated a year of sobriety last week, and I have my family of course to thank for that, but really, as corny as it sounds, I attribute a lot of it to these plants for just giving me a lot of joy and really being super therapeutic in a really dark time for me,” said Natalie Stackhouse.

Over the past year, Natalie started growing a personal collection of succulents and making special arrangements, not just for work but also for friends and loved ones on special occasions.

Her work of six 16-inch hanging arrangements can still be seen at that Red Robin in Olathe.

Scott, who runs the business side, said he enjoys providing a support system for Natalie and these plants to flourish. Some of the succulent plants are even propagated from their first collection.

“Being a manager in a restaurant is really just kind of a thankless, endless kind of job, and I just watched that go on,” Scott said. “So when this succulent craze started taking over, when she started talking about wanting to do it as a business, it just sparked in my mind that at some point, we’re going to have to really look at it.”

Like some folks during the past year during the COVID-19 pandemic, Natalie says she struggled with finding positive ways to de-stress. She says she began to worry that she was turning to alcohol too much as a coping mechanism.

Yet, when Natalie grew more and more attached to the succulents over the past year, she found that caring for these plants helped her out of her malaise.

Readers can visit the Lenexa Farmers Market this season to meet the Stackhouses and their succulents.

“I found myself in a really dark place, and I noticed that the more care I was taking, and the more interest I was gaining in these plants, and the more I was learning about them, all of a sudden, it really pulled me out of the depression I was in.

“It actually helped me just say, ‘You know what, I don’t need alcohol to try to escape anything, I really need these plants and the love of my family.’ I celebrated a year of sobriety last week, and I have my family of course to thank for that, but really, as corny as it sounds, I attribute a lot of it to these plants for just giving me a lot of joy and really being super therapeutic in a really dark time for me,” she said.

Earlier this summer, Natalie and Scott made the decision for her to go full-time in pursuing a new dream to own a succulent plant business.

The business’ name is inspired by the song “Into the Mystic” by Van Morrison, a favorite of the couple’s.

“I’m getting at an age where I just feel like if I don’t at least try it, then I’m going to feel worse about it than if I did and failed,” Natalie added. “It never felt overwhelming; it just felt easy to talk about it and to come up with all of these ideas.”

The Stackhouses make regular appearances at the Lenexa Farmers Market.

A website, intothemysticsucculents.com, is coming soon, but for now, readers can find them on Facebook.