Hinsdale Magazine recently met with Charlie Tomfohrde age 13, at the Hinsdale Farmers Market.
Q. Where did your interest in house plants come from?
A. I have always been interested in plants, and I started my first vegetable garden with my dad in 2021. My house plant hobby started in 2022; I had about fifteen plants when the idea of creating a plant business occurred to me.
In the fall of 2022, when I was 12 years old, I sent an email to the Chamber of Commerce requesting to be a vendor at the Farmer’s Market. After an application and an in-person interview, I was accepted, and my business was a go. I had to build my first business, Charlie’s House of Plants, from scratch!
Q. What was your learning curve like?
A. There were a few things to figure out in order to be a vendor, including insurance, registering with the State of Illinois, and obtaining a tax ID. For example, I learned that I needed to form a company in order to open a merchant account to be able to take credit card payments.
I keep a ledger for sales tax and profit and loss. Although I started to propagate plants in the winter to ensure I had enough inventory, I soon realized that I could buy plants wholesale with a tax ID.
For nine Mondays this past summer, we loaded the car at 5:30 a.m. with products to go to the market. We sold a wide variety of plants, including the Alocasia Polly, Pothos varieties, and Syngonium Moonshine.
Q. What are your most important takeaways from your first summer?
A. I am very proud that the plants I sell are high quality and sell for the same price or less than other stores. I learned about renewable sources of soil, the importance of marketing, signage, and that shiny leaves make the product more appealing. I am also proud that I made a donation to HCS Family Services. ■