For Mckenna Sontag, bonsai was a hobby before she started her business Bonsai Bai Me. She would casually get together with her friends and do it for fun, but she never imagined her hobby would turn into a business.
Starting in 2022, she took some time to re-evaluate her life goals and ask herself what truly made her happy. After much self-reflection, she decided that a happy life would come from turning her passion into a business and sharing her love of bonsai with others.
At Bonsai Bai Me, guests select their tree and pot and are led through potting, trimming, decorating, and learning how to care for the tree.
Bonsai Bai Me provides a hands-on experience where guests can learn the basics of maintaining a bonsai tree. “When I wanted to get into bonsai a few years ago, I was astounded at how difficult it was to find supplies and resources to learn,” said Sontag. “I wanted to make bonsai available to anyone interested in beginning with all the tools and resources they would need in one spot.”
Creating a business from her hobby was not quick or simple, but Sontag knew she couldn’t let her dream pass her by. Her advice to other women wanting to start a business is not to wait for things to get easier before chasing a dream. Before Bonsai Bai Me had a storefront, she hosted classes in her apartment.
“Starting a business is uncomfortable, feels risky, and takes a lot of work, but there is no better time to start than right now,” she added. “You can start small and take steps to grow, but starting is what matters.”
Being persistent has been a valuable part of her character in growing her business. For Sontag, the biggest hurdle she had to overcome was answering the question, “what if I fail”? Her advice to other entrepreneurs is to give it your best try today and hope hard work yields the results needed and then repeat.
For Sontag, owning Bonsai Bai Me and watching it grow while building a community around her passion is very rewarding. “I get to meet so many amazing people every day who come into my shop from all different backgrounds,” she added. “Some people come in who own tons of plants and have so much knowledge already, and others come in to buy their very first plant ever! And of course, sharing something I love and enjoy with others will always be rewarding.”