Profile Noire: October 19, 2019

Last weekend Lillith Plant Shop had the honor of sponsoring the plantscape for the Profile Noire opening night at the Charles Sumner Museum located in downtown DC. From the mind of visionary photographer, Rhonisha Franklin, Profile Noire is an exhibit featuring the portraits of 100 women of color seated in a regal pose for the world to see! How amazing right?!?! Now that I’ve had time to wrap my mind around the whole experience, I wanted to share a little behind the scenes story for you!

So the story begins over the summer, when I heard about the portrait series from Rhonisha while doing a plant installation at her house. When I heard about it, I definitely wanted in. It was a an homage to the many women of color that have shaped us all throughout our lives. When I sat for my photo at Rhonisha’s studio, I became in awe of her process. She made sure the makeup artist perfected our look, she was kind, gracious, and calming throughout the entire time. As one may imagine, posing for a portrait can bring out all your insecurities at one time but Rhonisha’s reassuring hand and gentle nature makes you feel like you are perfectly made. When she told me about the exhibit I knew we wanted to be part of this story and provide plants for the event decor!

Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago and I just knew I was going to get a beautiful selection of exotic plants for this event. I did the site visit with Rhonisha, contacted my supplier, and set my intentions.

The universe, however, had other plans.

We later found out the museum had strict delivery times which interfered with my schedule and THEN my supplier contacted me to say the delivery of my order wouldn’t come until AFTER the event! What a nightmare!

I was a nervous wreck but in the spirit of Nkyimkyim, I knew I could adapt to my new set of circumstances and make this work. I reached out to my local network of nurseries and plant shops to figure out how I was going to afford to do this plantscape without those good industry wholesale prices. But upon arriving at my favorite local wholesaler, there were these huge, stunning ferns on sale that I just knew would make the space pop. I got as many as I could, selected the most colorful array of accent plants and stacked a Uhaul van ceiling high with greenery.

When we arrived to the event setup and I finally saw Rhonisha, being her gracious self, she actually asked me if I was ok and proceeded to calm me down. On her opening night!!! At that moment, I knew that God had placed me there to do something special for this person and her vision that went way beyond just us in that moment.

When everything was all set up and we could finally sit down to get dressed I breathed a sigh of relief and gratitude. A sigh of gratitude for the opportunity to showcase the impact of indoor greenery on a space and on our experience of the world. As a business owner we sometimes get caught up in making sure everything we do is perfect. Our business is on the line! But this event showed me that no matter the twist and turns that come, we are resilient, our work is the why and we must believe that we can deliver. This is what we do.

Starsha Valentine and Rhonisha Franklin (left to right)

I’m so happy to have been a part of this historic evening and being one of the 100 women of color featured in the Profile Noire exhibit. Can you believe we’re in a museum!?!?!? Curious to learn more? Visit:

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