Bio and Interview

Yo what’s good party people? Many of you have gotten to know me over the last few years but there’s many things still undiscovered. To keep things simple I went ahead and created an INTRO TO US to give you a bio of the owner, James. 

I legit did not want to type out paragraphs of info so here are bullet points. HOLLA!

- James Monroe
- genetically black and white; mistaken for Eritrean, Indian from India, Cambodian, Cuban, and many more ethnicities
- 30 years old, born 2/22/1989
- second oldest of seven siblings, grew up with three of seven siblings
- played private league basketball 10-17 years old
- played high school football, freshman plus three years varsity
- honor roll student
- Laney College graduate, AA in Graphic Design
- worked at Apple retail for eight years, 2007 to 2015
- currently working for Amazon Lab126
- married to Erika for 7.5 years; together for 12.5 years
- three kids: James 4 years, Darlene 2 years, Javier 5 months 

If you want to know more just HOLLA at me or read the interview down below.

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Yo what's good party people?! Here you have an interview of US with all the questions being from Instagram followers. I asked my community what they would ask US if they were to interview US. If you have your own questions don't hesitate to ask as I will be looking to expand this in the future.

How old are you?

I am 30 years old. Born 2/22/1989. 

What first got you into succulents?

My family moved into a new home and I wanted some plants to liven up the place. I randomly bought about 10 plants from Orchard Hardware Supply. It was a few succies with the rest being drought tolerant outdoor plants and indoor houseplants. As time moved on I learned more about what succies were and just kept collecting them.

What made you start? What keeps you going?

I honestly started Unknown Succulents because I saw the business opportunity of mark up! I was getting succies from my local farmers’ market for about $3.33 a piece and the same ones were online/Etsy for $7-12. I always had an entrepreneur bug in me so I just ran with it. I keep going to continue to build a brand that can one day be sustainable to fully support my family. 

How do you manage to keep so many plants alive?

It’s a battle for sure as I garden on a balcony. I don’t have normal airflow, sunlight, and space! I sometimes need to rotate trays of succies to different shelves to keep their growth consistent. I have lost many succies in my time whether to rot or burn/too much sun exposure. I have had far more healthy plants so I take it lightly when I lose succies.

What is your best selling plant?

Hands down my Imbricatas always sell the best. I mostly get my hands on 4” pots but in the beginning of my account I had access to one gallon Imbricatas that were to die for. Stressed with pink and orange tips and a lot of pups!

What is the most you’ve paid to purchase a succie?

Alright now I have three top spending succies. I have paid $100 for an Agave White Rhino which was a great price from a friend! I bought a $93 Agave Golden Princess that was in a 10” container. Large item and worth the whole $93. My third highest succie was a 6” highly variegated Haworthia limfolia I bought for $77! This thing was bad ass and almost 100% yellow. Well it got sunburned and also attacked by bugs and died! Oh well, life happens.

How do you get more followers?

Ah this is tricky as there are many ways to get more followers. For me I am always having giveaways. Giveaways are a form of marketing and can bring attention to your account. Hopefully that attention converts people to followers. Another way to get more followers is community engagement. There’s two levels to this. One is to respond to every single comment on your direct feed. It lets people know you are not ignoring their comments. And then two is to comment on other accounts as this puts your name in the mix of things and people may be interested to click on your username and follow you.

Why agave? Explain the stressing process.

I have always wanted to look and be different than the crowd and oh boy Agave stands out for sure. It is not your typical cute and girly colored succie. It is fierce and can cause damage like no other. The teeth and spines on Agave do hurt but that’s all part of being different. Another main reason I like Agave is they need less water than succies. I enjoy stressing plants and Agave allow me to do so with less fear of burning leaves or having them melt as they are more hardy. The best way I stress my Agave and succies is to lower the amount of watering and do a transitional introduction of direct sunlight. I have more info on this in my succie care tips here.

What sets US apart from the rest?

To be honest, it’s just about me being real and speaking truth. I am not the cookie cutter succie account and do what I want to build my brand. I post text all over photos. I show my face a lot. I speak my mind or speak on issues in the succie community. I don’t shy away from being me and that helps in all aspects of my business.

Will you start selling crystals again?

I really want to. I am not 100% sold on their attributes so for me it is more just aesthetic. There’s nothing wrong with selling just for the looks but I would want to provide more value behind the transactions.

How do you balance work/family/succulent business?

I just do it! I don’t know any other way. I am gone from home 7:30am to 7pm Monday through Friday to work my full time job. When I get home it is full dad mode until bedtime for my kids which can be as late as 9pm. I then eat dinner and hang out with my wife until maybe 11pm. After that it is succie time with Mon-Wed being shipping nights. My weekends are full with family but I am constantly taking photos and videos while out to create content to post.

If you had to move to a tropical island and could only take one plant which would it be?

Hands down my Pony Tail Palm. It would do great on this tropical island but my main reason is because it was my grandma’s. The plant has been in my mom’s and my possession for 16 years now but we don’t know how long my grandma had it prior. The plant almost died TWICE in my mom’s possession but was brought back to life by me and growing well over the past four years.

Sativa, indica or hybrids?

For me I will take any of them. If you’re forcing me to choose I’ll take sativa. I love a heavy ass high but I am active when I smoke so I need to be able to walk around and take care of my kids and what not. I buy whatever weed that has a current good deal so sometimes it might be just indica and that’s fine. A big thing for me is outdoor versus indoor. I have always experienced outdoor flowers having a stronger fragrance and taste better when smoked.