My last semester of grad school, I became a plan enthusiast. From taking care of a few houseplants, I realized there were a lot of similarities between ourselves and plants. With that thought, I designed a service that uses plant care as a learning tool for mental health.


  • My Role: Product Design
  • Team Size: 5


  • This project was selected for a pre-accelerator program for launching startups and ventures
  • This is also my favorite piece of work :)


63% of African Americans believe depression is a personal weakness (source)

A history of stigma has created an unrealistic view of mental health. This tension makes building a relationship with mental health inaccessible to many black people. Though self-care services, like Headspace, aim to make understanding the mind more accessible for many people — none of these services take into account the complexities of race and mental health.

What if we could create a common language about mental health in an uncommon way?

The CULTIVATE experience

CULTIVATE is a self-care service that helps people plant, nourish, and grow their relationship with mental health through the exercise of raising a plant. CULTIVATE leverages the experience of plant raising and curated activities to build confidence and to create transferrable learning about mental health.

The root of CULTIVATE is the experience of tending to living plant.

Through the metaphor of plant care, CULTIVATE breaks down mental health concepts into more relatable and digestible bits. Plants are an important piece of CULTIVATE. Though plants have a lot of natural benefits such as purifying the air, plants here are important to serving as a physical representation of mental health. Mental health is intangible, but by relating it to a plant (a physical object), mental health becomes a living thing with a set of specific needs for survival.

The Seedling Packet

Each month, a Seedling Pack arrives via mail. These activity booklets center on a monthly theme and contain a relevant lesson and an attainable task or habit to practice on your plant.

Information within the Seedling Packs are designed to be highly relatable. It is important to acknowledge that the lived experience of black people will be unique. This allows for topics centered around – Microaggressions, Police Brutality, Spirituality, and much more.

The process behind CULTIVATE

The experience is grounded in the process of empathy training which focuses on teaching and reinforcing habits to build them over time. CULTIVATE happens in 3 stages. Stage 1 is Activation, the onboarding experience. Stage 2 is Cultivation, the core loop that focuses on building skills to reflect and talk about mental health. Stage 3, is Propagation. This stage is about spreading this toolkit and involves sharing plant your clippings with another.

Looking back at it

CULTIVATE felt like a miraculous culmination of everything I strive do as a designer — innovate to empower people. Throughout the process, I grew professionally and personally. I learned how to embrace my vulnerability to ask the hard questions, honed my visual design skills, and ultimately created an experience that is intentional throughout all interactions. I guess you could say CULTIVATE cultivated me 🥴.

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