Profile: High & Dry Cactus Co.
Overflowing with green, prickly creatures, handcrafted terra cotta pottery, and all the Southwestern feels a botany enthusiast could want: High & Dry Cactus Co. is our new plant-room obsession.
Nestled in the cozy neighborhood of Rosedale, High & Dry Cactus Co. founders Jordan and Emily Fox have created a perfect space for their love and knowledge of botany– showcasing the care and appreciation for each plant’s history, all species’ individual needs and beauty, and every supplier’s story. The showroom– renovated and designed right in their own backyard– incorporates everything you’d expect from two curators and lovers of fine cacti, euphorbia, and succulents.
I was lucky enough to learn a little more about their new endeavor while visiting the dreamy space:
Tell us a little about how you two met. And the significance botany had in the beginning of your relationship.
Emily and I met in college. Around the time we started dating, I was taking some courses for my conservation major. One course involved creating a book of plant leaves for identification. Some of our “dates” were spent outdoors searching for plants together for my project. We enjoyed our time together outside, and have since carried on some of those traditions by going on adventures together in our married life.
What was the inspiration to start High & Dry Cactus Co.?
Inspiration for High & Dry came from a number of things, but most important were our love for nature and the American desert, coupled with the intrinsic design quality of cacti and succulents.
What are your buying trips like?
Buying trips are fun and chaotic at the same time. We cruise rocky backroads and experience truly desolate places, and we experience extremely heavy sidewinds in New Mexico on our van that make us think we're going to tip over. It's all over the place– and that's what really gives us lasting experiences and memories. We generally have a rough plan of what growers and nurseries we'll be visiting, but the in between is really where it gets interesting. We certainly have goals set in place for how many plants we're looking for, or what types we need, but the overall trips are kept in the "adventure" realm to make it fun for us.
Can you tell us about one or two of your suppliers? A little about the characters you meet along the way, the importance of getting to know these suppliers, or any favorite story you have about one of these characters?
Some of our favorite suppliers are almost out of a spaghetti Western - true characters of the West. A current favorite of ours is a retired landscaper who spent his formative years creating beautiful cactus driven designs for his clients. Over the years he amassed a huge collection of plants in his backyard, and every time we visit him it’s a wonderful experience. He takes his time telling little side stories and fond memories of being younger in his trade. We’ve certainly learned so much from him about cacti and how a professional plant keeper treats their plants and their clients.
Have you guys always had a green thumb?
I'd say we have in our adult lives, though not naturally. Through education and patience, we've learned what each plant needs from us as caregivers. Emily's family and my family both had gardens and large lots of land to roam, so growing up we both were pretty close to nature from that standpoint. Emily is definitely the gardener of the two of us. She seeks out clean, real food which has developed into a home garden full of fruits, vegetables and herbs to care for. My background deals more with conservation and an affinity for nature. I spent a lot of my teen and college aged years backpacking and spending time outdoors. Once we purchased our first home, we naturally started to fill it with plants. Our house came with a large outbuilding that needed work, and after some thought, we decided to renovate it into a showroom for beautiful desert plants.
Do you see a story/beauty/connection/intimacy behind each plant? Do you hate to see them leave? Or love the idea of placing them in a new home?
Yes and yes. We love each plant and usually remember each story about the origin of where and how we arrived at buying each plant. We know that the story is important, but understand that the story doesn’t end with us.
What was your design process like for this new brand?
The design process comes from a few standpoints. We identify with a minimalist mentality with the things in our home, so we enjoy well thought out and well designed objects and spaces. Cacti and succulents naturally fit into that realm, being that they are easy to care for and beautiful in a natural and minimal way. Through running Foxtrot Supply Co. with my business partner, I've inherited a desire for few and meaningful things. The identity for the High & Dry brand comes directly from a historical and botanical approach to most cacti, being that they hail from very dry and sometimes, very high places. The naming felt right after tossing around some ideas. It also speaks to the resilience that we love about the plants. The snake wound around the saguaro in our logo is inspired by how snakes and plants were regarded in ancient civilizations. It's amazing that after so many years, humans still regard plants and animals with the same amount of respect and awe.
What has been the most fun so far about this new business?
By far the most fun aspect of the business is that it is centered around our marriage and our life together. Caring for things together has brought immense joy to us. We don't expect for this project to be careers for either of us, because our expectations are to keep it fun and manageable. Once the idea of money is brought into the picture, the care and respect for the plants becomes less of the priority. It's a lesson we've learned from our friends we've made on buying trips, speaking to growers who've cared for plants for years. The story and the product are certainly the priority, and seeing the joy it can bring people make it all come full circle.
And finaaallly… What are you two most excited about with this new endeavor?
We’re excited to have people come to our home and experience something different than what they’re used to. We’re excited to slow down and get to know the people who also have interests in plants and share in that experience with them.
The High & Dry Cactus Co. showroom will be appointment-only through their website, including browsing, potting, and “Plant Care 101” options. Beer, coffee, Instagram-worthy photo ops, and absorbing stories about the Fox’s trips to the Southwest cacti farms are included in each visit. You can also find High & Dry Cactus for sale inside of Foxtrot Supply Co., Hammerpress and currently, a rooftop pop-up inside the Crossroads Hotel’s Percheron.
Jordan and Emily have created more than a plant showroom– they have brought a little piece of Southwest beauty right here to Kansas City. Every plant, piece of pottery, and aspect of the garage vibrates with love and care for the plants, the stories behind them, and the memories they have created for their family. Come give them and their prickly pals a visit!