Alden Boon

From ITE Graduate to Self-made Entrepreneur – Littlebotany Founder Fendi Sani on His Love for Plants and Overcoming Insecurities



You are also very active with charity work.

When Littlebotany started to make profits, I wanted to give back to the society. It began with Animal Concerns Research and Education Society, which is known for its wildlife conservation. The society rescues trafficked animals or animals that are injured. It goes back to my love for animals. I also worked with Cat Welfare Society and Saving Our Street Dogs. I recently did a fundraiser for Assisi Hospice. I got to know its Head of Community Enrichment Juliet through a customer of mine. Being an Asian in a traditional family, the concept of hospice care is foreign to me. When I went to the hospice, I saw that it was a beautiful place, so full of life, passion and love — they play music to patients in their end of days.

So you are actually selective about whom you work with.

For me, charity work has to connect with my personal beliefs. It’s not just for hype, or clout chasing or to present myself as a saviour. I feel that once you have privilege, you must always help others, even if you feel you’re just a small and mid-size enterprise that can only contribute a little. It creates a ripple effect — someone else may become inspired that even a small community can help raise funds.

What is the connection you have with plants? How do plants help you?

Gardening helps me to process issues and my anxiety. Touching the plant and working with it slow down my train of thoughts. I can start thinking about an issue, but not stress over it. Taking care of the plants is an escape. It teaches me patience as well as compassion. You are taking care of a living thing, and you need to show it love and compassion. In turn, you are showing compassion to yourself as well. And of course, gardening offers me a sense of achievement: I put my heart and soul into something, and the reward is something that’s nice. It gives you the confidence that if you can create magic in this tiny space of yours, you can create magic elsewhere too.

Also, I’m an introvert who is a very guarded person. As an introvert, I need silence and isolation. As I’m trained in customer service, I can easily switch to being animated. But I need to prepare myself mentally. My gardening time is when I build energy. An hour before I open shop, I think about the things that make me feel stressed, such as interacting with strangers. And after a long day, I am thoroughly drained. Gardening is how I recharge. It’s my own quiet time, my own healing time. The nerves go away; I go back to being fully myself.

Fendi Sani Littlebotany Singapore Plant Green Ornamental -1010

I’m an introvert too: I can have in-depth, very revealing conversations with interviewees but ask me to go to a social gathering and I wither. Now that your business is in the thriving phase, did you run into any thorny problem? 

Burnout was one. I embarked on an expansion plan that included the opening of the second and current farm at Sungei Tengah. There’s also Pasar Plant at Jalan Batu Hawker Centre, which is birthed from my conviction that gardening should be an affordable hobby. Even in the gardening community, elitism and toxicity are prevalent. At Pasar Plant, we propagate an expensive plant and sell it. We also sell young offshoots at this humble stall. Everything here is capped at a maximum of fifteen dollars. This gives everyone a chance to start their own green journeys.

Being in Tanjong Rhu also allows us to reach out directly to seniors, who may not be social media savvy, and help them with their questions. And there is also the small corner at Friday’s Garden, Pearls Hill, where a range of potted plants is displayed. It caters to the arts scene — the focus is more on the handmade ceramics; my plants are a prop.

In theory, the expansion plan had seemed easy. In reality, it was a struggle bouncing between the new branches. Littlebotany took off so quickly — within a span of two years — and I have had no rest. Your body can take a lot before you break. There were many moments I got angry or frustrated very easily. It is a norm for entrepreneurs. We started our businesses from nothing, and they’ve become very personal to us, so it’s not so simple as hiring new people to take over our roles. We become control freaks who need to examine every minor detail.

So, I was stretched to my limits. Our first farm at Punggol had to close after the landlord took back the land and ended our tenancy. While it’s a bittersweet moment, the silver lining is that my workload has lessened. I’m back to feeling comfortable. So now, I remember this baseline feeling. I remember what it feels like — anything more and I will burn out. For us entrepreneurs, we need to recognise when we are pushing ourselves too hard.

Read: How My Dog, Clifford, Uplifts and Gets Me Through My Chronic Depression and Generalised Anxiety Disorder: Rajes Balachanther

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Alden Boon
Alden Boon is a Quarter-finalist in PAGE International Screenwriting Awards. When he's not busy writing, he pretends he is Gandalf.