Glam Gardener NYC grows out of pandemic to produce array of herbal, medicinal products


STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. – Travis resident Aly Stoffo, 26, quit her job as an education and marketing coordinator with a green building consulting group in downtown Manhattan on Friday, March 13, 2020.

Shortly after, the world shut down, due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

“It was potentially bad timing on my end. But who could have foreseen what would follow?” recalled Stoffo.

“That Monday, March 16 — ironically my 25th birthday — I was notified by the companies I had job interviews with that everything would be delayed until further notice. So from that point forward, I no longer had job prospects,” she added.

For this reason, Stoffo used the coronavirus pandemic shutdown as an opportunity to connect with her first love — nature.

“I’m a Staten Island native who has loved exploring our borough’s green space since I was a little girl,” she admitted. “Like many others stuck at home during the pandemic, I had a lot of time on my hands, which lent me all the time in the world to grow a fabulous garden, make art and dive deeper into my natural health regimen — something that seemed important to take seriously during a pandemic that, at the time, there were very little answers for.”

Glam Gardener NYC

With a growing line of 30 products, Glam Gardener NYC offers wild-foraged herbal products, and art and education under one roof. The products can be found online and at markets on Staten Island and across the city. (Courtesy of Stephen Obisanya)

IN BUSINESS ‘BY ACCIDENT’

This time to reflect led to her accidentally launching a new business — Glam Gardener NYC.

“It started as an Instagram page designed to be a free resource and space for connection with other city-bound nature-lovers. As I built a-couple-thousand-person following on Instagram around showing my art and sharing free information about gardening and wild edible plants, I started to consider it as a viable career path,” explained Stoffo.

And her message seemed to resonate with people.

Stoffo’s Instagram account grew from one to 1,000 followers in about three months, she said. Stoffo’s instagram page, @glamgardenernyc, documented her journey of transforming an average Staten Island back yard into an “urban food forest.”

“I wanted to connect with Staten Island nature-lovers and offer free resources for those new to gardening,” she said.

Glam Gardener NYC

Stoffo’s Instagram account grew from one to 1,000 followers in about three months, she said. (Courtesy of Stephen Obisanya)

In addition to sharing gardening tips, she began offering local hiking trail locations; shared facts about Staten Island’s environmental history; taught people how to craft herbal remedies; and posted tidbits about how to harvest edible plants and mushrooms from the wild, which is a practice called foraging.

Glam Gardener NYC

Glam Gardener NYC has accomplished many things, including: gaining more than 5,000 followers on social media; guiding hundreds of locals on foraging tours; selling wild-foraged herbal products across the nation, and is becoming officially incorporated into a NYC business. (Courtesy of Stephen Obisanya)

And people responded by the dozens.

“My goal was to help others reconnect with nature, while creating a life for myself that allowed me to spend time in the woods, not behind a computer 60 hours a week,” she said.

Stoffo explained that her followers were amazed that edible and medicinal plants — many, which appear to be nothing more than weeds to the naked eye — were so common to find in Staten Island green spaces, ranging from the beach to the St. Francis Woodlands on Todt Hill.

“I believe my message resonated with people, because I shattered their world view. I taught them that the mugwort and red clover they were ripping out of their gardens, was something they should instead be drinking as tea to improve their health,” Stoffo added.

Glam Gardener NYC

“My goal was to help others reconnect with nature, while creating a life for myself that allowed me to spend time in the woods, not behind a computer 60 hours a week,” Stoffo said. (Courtesy of Stephen Obisanya)

THE PRODUCTS

With a growing line of 30 products — from greeting cards made from seed paper and herbal tea, to medicinal tinctures and 3D-printed plant-based plastic planters shaped like booties — Glam Gardener NYC offers wild-foraged herbal products, and art and education under one roof. The products can be found online and at markets on Staten Island and across the city.

“We emphasize local production, organic ingredients, and ethical sourcing in everything we offer. I teach people about the plentiful edible plants that grow in our local ecosystem via bi-monthly public foraging tours and workshops on Staten Island,” said Stoffo.

HOW SHE BUILT THE BUSINESS

In August 2020 Stoffo built a website and started selling stickers and prints of five nature-themed doodles.

“As the months progressed, I collaborated with local artists to make earrings that infused wildflowers. I offered foraging hikes to teach people how to identify wild edible and medicinal plants. I started offering herbal products infused with wild and organic ingredients,” she said.

Over a year later, Glam Gardener NYC has accomplished many things, including: gaining more than 5,000 followers on social media; guiding hundreds of locals on foraging tours; selling wild-foraged herbal products across the nation, and is becoming officially incorporated into a NYC business.

Glam Gardener NYC

“We emphasize local production, organic ingredients, and ethical sourcing in everything we offer. I teach people about the plentiful edible plants that grow in our local ecosystem via bi-monthly public foraging tours and workshops on Staten Island,” said Stoffo.(Courtesy of Stephen Obisanya)

HOW SHE MAKES THE PRODUCTS

People are often shocked to hear that Stoffo wild-harvests most of the plants sold via Glam Gardener NYC.

“I source these plants and mushrooms from pristine forests in Pennsylvania, upstate New York and New Jersey to ensure the cleanest sources,” she said, noting that Glam Gardener NYC has also sourced from small USA-based organic farms, like those that sell at Grow NYC Greenmarkets.

“I think what has made me successful has been that I’m just so driven to do this. I’m really passionate about this. Next year, I’ll be attempting to streamline my operation, get in more stores, and bring on some employees to help,” she added.

GLAM GARDNER NYC AT A GLANCE

Website: www.glamgardenernyc.com/

Instagram: www.instagram.com/glamgardenernyc/

Facebook: www.facebook.com/glamgardenernyc/

New Businesses in Focus is a weekly column that relates the stories of new Staten Island business owners. If you have a new business on Staten Island, e-mail porpora@siadvance.com.

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