Entrepreneur Profile: Kelly Hofferth
Kelly’s Green Living Botanical Art
Kelly Hofferth misses the mountains. Having grown up in the Pacific Northwest, she longs for the year-round greenery and outdoor lifestyle that region brings. So, after building a life and raising a family in the Midwest, she started a business to bring the outdoors in – Kelly’s Green Living Botanical Art.
“When I started looking into this, I knew that plants change your brain, so initially I was thinking I want to do something with plants – promote plants Indoors,” Kelly said. “I had read that we are in indoors 90 percent of our lives. We don’t even go outside anymore.”
Her first project was for The Lauber restaurant in South Bend. Shortly after opening, the owner found the industrial space – with a concrete floor, brick, and glass – was not good for acoustics.
“Sound was just reverberating,” Kelly said.
The space was not particularly conducive to live plants. Kelly determined moss could fit the space. Technically, it is not living since it doesn’t reproduce. It requires no light or dirt since it is preserved. But it brings the same physical response as plants – filling the human need for greenery. For maintenance, all moss needs are an appropriate humidity level, or an occasional misting.
For the Lauber, Kelly created four pieces: a large eight by four-foot piece, as well as three four-foot squares for the space. This inspired her to build a business around moss art.
“It does so many things,” she said. “Moss not only just changes your brain, it makes you feel better about life when you’re near it, just because your brain sees the green and it also functions to lower your blood pressure and all the things. It also is cleaning the air and it’s also acoustically absorbent and beautiful to look at.”
Kelly primarily uses reindeer moss – a lichen that grows mostly in the Antarctic – named for the animals that eat it in the wild. While lichen do grow in the region, but native lichen tends to be too crunchy and fragile to use in an art piece.
Kelly went on to create six pieces for former University of Notre Dame football coach Brian Kelly’s home. She also made a three-foot round Shamrock for the Notre Dame football Department, as well as an art piece for Coach Marcus Freeman’s stadium suite that incorporated neon lighting.
She found the process of making moss art a beneficial and mindful experience. Kellydecided to begin sharing that opportunity by hosting moss art classes.
“Basically, people come in, they get a frame, they get all the moss they want to create whatever they want,” Kelly said. “Then, they can take it to their home environment or their office. It’s environmentally friendly; it’s not a plastic plant. That’s really been a passion.”
“Just let the moss speak to you. It will! There’s no question every single time I see something new, something different that you do somebody came up with some idea and you can always just feel the change in the room. It’s a really interesting dynamic. Everybody comes in with all their high-stress energy and they leave so happy with their new moss art that they’ve created. It really makes me happy.”
Kelly had several career changes over the years, which ultimately lead her to become an entrepreneur. After attending school to become a chiropractor, she moved to the South Bend – Elkhart region with her husband. Here she taught middle school science. After leaving education, she began working at Press Ganey, a firm specializing in health care patient satisfaction. She then became the assistant to the general manager at the Morris Inn on the University of Notre Dame’s campus. This was around the time she found herself being drawn to follow her passion.
“Having something that’s a unique niche and being passionate as an entrepreneur, I would say it’s probably one of the best things that helped me,” Kelly said. “Not only does it help you convey what it is that you are passionate about, it also helps you get up and do the things that you don’t want to do, or you never knew how to do, or you have to learn how to do. But because you’re so passionate about what it is that you do, you’re willing to do it and put yourself out there.”
A graduate of HustleSBE Cohort Five, Kelly’s participated in multiple entrepreneur programs in the area. She was drawn to HustleSBE, a Startup South Bend – Elkhart business bootcamp program for Black, Indigenous, People of Color and Women business owners, after meeting program facilitator Jess Koscher.
“I met Jess at the at the Women’s Conference at St. Mary’s. She presented there and I was like ‘oh my God, this woman is a badass,’” Kelly said. “I need to find what she’s up to! She let me know that the Hustle class was starting. I was a little hesitant to do it because I’ve done so many, but I did it because of her. It proved to be really a good thing because I’ve already made so many more connections and learned things in a new way.”
Kelly hopes to see her business continue to broaden. She’s looking into other products and continues to do custom work.
“I would like to do a large custom piece in a public space – that’s a goal of mine to have a large piece that everybody can see,” said Kelly. “And I find so much joy and I see the transformation of people in my moss art classes that I really hope that I can continue that part of my business as well.”
For more information on Kelly’s Green Living, visit www.kellysgreenliving.com.