Nickel City Gritty: Daddy's Plants
I will admit, I’ve never had a green thumb.
I’ve tried to be a plant person. Believe me. But no matter what I tried, I just couldn’t hack it.
My very good friends Billy and Pat Sandora-Nastyn started their brand new houseplant business Daddy’s Plants last year. Right now they are exclusively selling their plants at pop-ups around Buffalo, but their ultimate end game is to have their own brick and mortar location to share their love of plants with the WNY community. Billy and Pat have taught me which plants are good for my lifestyle, and I’m happy to report that I have not killed a single one of the babies that I have bought from them. This is a huge step in the right direction for me to finally earn my green thumb.
I recently sat down with the dynamic duo to chat all about their business, their totally different styles, their favorite foods, and what they hope to be when they grow up. Make sure to listen to their fabulous playlist below while you read their story. Pat informed me that it’s best to listen from top to bottom, but can also be fun if put on shuffle.
This is Nickel City Gritty, and this is Billy & Pat Sandora-Nastyn of Daddy’s Plants.
Tell me a little bit about how Daddy’s Plants got started.
Pat: Okay, so number one, we love plants as a hobby. I’ve always loved plants, Billy’s dad worked for the New York State Department of Agriculture, and it just was this hobby that we really enjoyed doing stuff in our house and our yard and it was fun. That kind of married with when we decided to move to Buffalo in 2014 and we thought that this seemed like an opportunity for us to start something. We didn’t know what that something was going to be, we thought maybe it would be a store or a cafe or a business. We were just kind of feeling it out. Our 9-5 jobs just kind of lined up and we thought okay, this is the opportunity and this is Daddy’s Plants and let’s just do it. It was a pretty quick decision to actually pull the trigger on it once the door opened. It was right.
Billy: I think that we took a lot of time planning and making sure that we did some research. Opening it was the idea of pulling the trigger, and a lot went into the planning, like I did my road trip, went to seven or eight houseplant shops across North America, so a lot of thought went into it and a lot of research to make sure that this was something that would be the right type of retail for this city.
P: We know from social media and from people that we talk to, that more and more people are interested in houseplants. I think people are apartment living longer or not planning on having kids, so plants are something to take care of and they will make people happier. It’s an analog hobby. It feels good to get your hands into dirt sometimes. We just thought that this was a great opportunity, especially in Buffalo.
B: Especially for half of the year, what about the indoor gardening culture that does exist here. It can sometimes get looked over.
Describe your personal style.
B: My new personal style is that I’m constantly on a cross country road trip *laughs* After working a 9-5 for so many years, I’m wearing my hair longer, I have a mustache, I’m wearing things that are a little bit more….like a dad. I’m feeling like a road trip hippie! That’s my look lately. Bandanas on fleek.
P: Kids don’t say “on fleek” any more, dad.
B: I’m not a kid, I’m a daddy now!
P: My personal style is…kind of athleasure meets preppy but comfortable. I’ve been enjoying the last six months, feeling a freedom in the type of clothes that I’m wearing. Like, I feel like I’m wearing a little more gender neutral items. For example, I’m wearing a fuzzy pink sweater today. I used to be so much more regimented in the clothes that I was either allowed to wear to work or it was like “this is what you’re supposed to wear.” I always say that Billy’s style is more earthy and my style is more modern. That’s the big difference.
What are five things that you can’t live without?
P: Bread, cats, tv, internet, Billy.
B: Awwww you said me, I was gonna say you, too! I was hoping that you wouldn’t say me so I could say it and sound like a good guy.
P: And I knew you were thinking that so that’s why I said it! Pizza is really the fifth one.
B: So this is really hard, because I realized that when I went on my road trip I didn’t need a lot of things. I did need the internet, so like social media, for sure. I don’t have a healthy relationship with it, but that’s one of them. Two would be pickled things, so that includes olives and things like that. Also a bike…I think I’d always want to have a bike around. And travel.
P: And Pat.
B: And Pat! He was the first one I said.
P: No, the first thing you said was the internet.
P: I can’t believe you put pickles and a bike over me.
What are some small things that make your day better?
B: I would say a stroll in my backyard. I do that in the middle of winter where I remember what it’s like to run out the door with nothing on my feet, and that I actually can’t do that right now. I just throw my boots on and walk around the yard. I just look at everything and think about how there’s gonna be tulips and daffodils soon.
Do you stand there with your hands on your hips like a dad?
B: Uh huh! It’s very important that I built that fence this past year because it gives me some privacy from the stares from the neighbors.
P: Ummm…I’d say taking my pants off at night. There’s nothing sweeter!
B: And plants! Plants bring me a lot of joy every day. The more I learn about them the more intrigued I am by them.
What topic could you spend hours talking about?
B: Pat’s gonna say Drag Race.
P: No, Real Housewives of New York City or America’s Next Top Model.
B: We sometimes get real deep on, like, culture, and why things matter in different cultures and not others. I think that it’s just because the way the world is now. I feel like we can get pretty deep into that stuff. I like to talk about where things originate from and figuring that out in history. That’s really interesting.
What is your spirit animal?
P: A cat, for sure.
B: Some kind of a bird, or possibly a dragon.
P: No, yours is like a muppet.
B: So I fly a lot in my dreams and I’m able to have control over it so I can actively be like, “I’m just gonna fly away.” in a bad dream. So that’s why I think it would be a bird.
P: The reason I’d say a cat is because you can only touch me like a little bit, and I’m only nice to people that I like.
What fictional place would you most like to visit?
P: Billy would want to go inside the land of the snowman, right?
B: I mean, I always wanted to go to the snowy part of Narnia. But I’d also say that planet in Avatar…Pandora. It’s focused a lot on what the environment is. The environment of both I love.
P: Oh man, I’m really blanking. Maybe in Adventure Time…that cartoon.
B: You don’t want to go to Spice Girl Island?
P: That’s not a place. I would know if it was.
What is on your playlist?
P: I like music that gets me up and dancing around. Very into lots of Ariana Grande right now, also lots of Little Mix.
B: I’m listening to the newer Miley Cyrus stuff right now, and I started listening to Teddy Geiger a lot recently too. He wrote a bunch of songs for some big pop stars.
If you could choose a liquid that would come out of each pointer finger for the rest of your life, what would they be?
B: Oh I know what mine would be. One is water and one is Frank’s Hot Sauce. I put Frank’s Hot Sauce on my finger to eat it at night. I just turn the bottle and drip it on my actual finger.
P: Yeah! Before he goes to bed!
B: So it would be perfect if it could just shoot out of my finger! And then water because I need to drink more water. And I could water the plants! I’d be the plant whisperer.
P: I would get Dr. Pepper and probably iced coffee.
What is something people fear but doesn’t scare you at all?
P: I think, unknown things. Not change, necessarily, but I’m not afraid to do something where I’m like, “I’m not too sure about that.” I just kind of roll with the punches. I’m a very uptight person and need things to be a particular way, but in the big picture I’m like, “Well, we’re all gonna die someday, so whatever!”
B: Mine would be trying things on my own. I built that fence in the yard, and I had a lot of people asking me how I did it by myself, and it always seem to come from a place as, like, fear, and it’s the same thing with this road trip that I went on. I just packed the car and went. People don’t understand how I did it alone. You take things that most people fear and lear not to fear them.
What are some of your favorite bars or restaurants in Buffalo?
B: Dapper Goose always and forever. Billy Club.
P: Public Espresso.
B: All of the Sato’s. Schwabl’s is the thing. Everyone who comes into town wants to go to Schwabl’s. It’s a classic.
P: I love Ballyhoo. I love 100 Acres at Hotel Henry…best hamburger I’ve ever eaten.
B: Also Remedy House, for sure. I love when places have great curb appeal.
If you could only eat three foods for the rest of your life, what would they be?
P: Pizza, peanut butter and jelly, hamburgers.
B: Meatloaf, seeded rye with mayonnaise on it…
P: The level of embarrassment.
B: And ramen. Good ramen.
What is one of your favorite smells?
B: Pine. Any kind of cedar or pine.
P: There’s this perfume called Hypnotic Poison. Two of my very good friends wear it and it smells SO good. It’s so specific.
What’s the best vacation you’ve ever been on?
B: I have so many, but my first trip abroad by myself was to Japan, and I had a friend who was my guide and he spoke the language and we went to all of these different cities and that was so incredible learning a different culture. It was life changing, and the food has changed my life.
P: I think the first time we went to Italy. We went with our friends and we all kind of split off and then came back together, and it was very relaxing and we just ate and drank and walked around. That’s how I wanted to be in Italy…just walk around and have past and gelato in my body at all times.
What is something you’ve learned in the past week?
B: I’ve learned how to take care of an unidentified plant in our collection, which I’m proud of. Learning and identifying a plant and taking care of it is very rewarding.
P: I learned a new dance! I know that’s not very insightful.
What do you want to be when you grow up?
P: At work today, people were having a little side huddle conversation and I just turned around and joined it, and they were asking, “If you weren’t doing this, what would you want to be doing?” and I whipped around and said, “MTV veejay.” And they were like, “No no no, something realistic.” Excuse me, how dare you come for my dream? That was always my dream job that I wanted to do. I wanted to host TRL, I wanted to interview pop musicians, I wanted to go to the VMA’s…
When Mariah Carey had a breakdown you wanted to be there.
P: Yes! When she got the little ice cream cart, yes absolutely, I wanted to be there. That’s what I want to be when I grow up…I mean…I want to be an owner of a houseplant store.
B: I always wanted to be one of those National Geographic jungle people who traveled and took photos, and obviously that didn’t happen, so I’ll settle for being some form of a silver fox daddy who owns a plant shop. I’ll just surround myself with tropical plants instead! The reason that I didn’t end up going to school for that is that I learned that bugs imbed themselves in your feet. I was like, “Fuck this, I’m not going to school in Australia! I’m going to UB for graphic design.”