Entrepreneur continues family tradition

Inspired by her late aunt, Liz Pigorsh launches Button Up Your Plants.
The wraps for outdoor existing plants in the ground provide support and give the illusion that they are potted. Courtesy Korbin Perry

The idea for beautiful and functional plant wraps came to Liz Pigorsh in a dream involving her late aunt’s garden, and she took it as a sign to invent a product and start a business.

Pigorsh’s Aunt Ellamae Braun was a master gardener and longtime volunteer at Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park until her death in 2010. Pigorsh (née Braun) had a dream about her in 2019 that was the jumping-off point for her invention and subsequent business, Button Up Your Plants.

“I had a dream about her bright orange poppies and perfect pink peonies falling over into her driveway, as they did every season,” Pigorsh said. “That dream inspired Button Up Your Plants, an invention to showcase and protect delicate blooms.”

Button Up Your Plants sells small, medium and large decorative wraps for outdoor existing plants in the ground, to provide support and give the illusion that they are potted, as well as wraps that fasten around the base of outdoor potted plants, hanging plants and indoor plants. The wraps, which can be custom designed or come from an existing stock, typically range from $7.99-$30, depending on size and design intricacy.

Pigorsh has been many things: a resident of Cedar Springs and now Rockford, a stay-at-home soccer mom of four, a health coach and a caterer with Applause Catering.

But one thing that’s always been true is entrepreneurship — and gardening — are embedded deeply in her family history. Her grandfather, Fred Braun Sr., founded Braun Machinery in Kentwood, and three generations of Brauns have since owned and operated the business. Her aunt, Fred Braun’s daughter and the aforementioned master gardener, taught her the concept of generational gardening and passed along a love of flowers and plants.

The youngest of three boys and three girls, Pigorsh frequently visited her Aunt Ellie’s home in East Grand Rapids growing up and has many wonderful memories from those days.

“It was just gorgeous in her backyard. She did the landscaping in the front, and she had a small aisleway that her poppies and peonies would be on. (It was) her driveway, the poppies and peonies, then her door. And I just remember (the flowers) always flopping over. She had a detached garage and a really cool wooden gate that attached the two, and then you walked into this gorgeous garden in the back — it was just beautiful,” Pigorsh said.

Ellie Braun put her nephews and nieces to work gardening and deadheading flowers so new blossoms could grow in their place, and she also shared plants with family members, who transplanted them each time they moved to keep the heirlooms going.

Pigorsh describes her sister as a better gardener than she, but when the Pigorsh family moved to their current home in Rockford, lo and behold, there were seven, nearly 30-year-old peony plants standing at about four-and-a-half feet tall each.

It was no wonder, then, that Pigorsh had the dream in 2019 about her aunt’s peonies.

“She said, ‘Wrap my poppies and my peonies,’ and I was crazy enough to follow the dream,” Pigorsh said, laughing.

After inviting a friend, Becky, over to help create a prototype of the wraps one day, Pigorsh was struggling to think of a way to fasten the wraps when her friend suggested using buttons. Pigorsh turned toward the fridge and saw on it a magnet made by her Aunt Ellie that was festooned in buttons and said, “If friends were flowers, I’d pick you.” Pigorsh took this as another sign, and the name for her invention and business was born.

The logo for the business is a family affair, as well, as her niece patterned it after a floral greeting card that Fred Braun Sr. painted for Ellie Braun for her birthday in 1977.

GKW Business Solutions in Rockford and S.C.O.R.E. Grand Rapids provided business consulting services to Pigorsh, Sightline Display in Walker helped develop the wraps, and now its in-house partner, Design Manufacturing, designs and manufactures the products.

Button Up Your Plants, just over two years in operation, recently became a member of the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce, and Pigorsh said she is excited to see what growth the future holds for her business.

“I never imagined a love of plants would create so many friendships and strengthen my support from family,” Pigorsh said. “I love being around flowers, plants and people. I am relationship-oriented (and) love meeting people, so thankfully I enjoy knocking on business doors and sharing the wraps. People have been incredibly receptive and seem to love the idea.”

The wraps are available to purchase at buttonupyourplants.com/shop, as well as at Frederik Meijer Gardens’ gift shop, Countryside Greenhouse in Allendale, S&H Greenhouses in Belmont, Knapp Valley Gardens in Grand Rapids, Edgerton Giftery in Howard City and Bittersweet of Cheboygan in Cheboygan.

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