A while ago I was doing some research on the Groupon Store in Hong Kong, I decided to visit one of my favorite blogs called Hong Kong Hustle. This is the trendsetting blog that discuss many of the shops and nightlife in Hong Kong and the blog helped me understood the micro-mall cube shop or checkerbox business model a few years back. So I go to check them out again and they bring up something I found interesting called mossarium and we will talk about that in a second. Trapped in urban Hong Kong, where you can go for years without smelling fresh cut grass, it’s actually memorable on the rare occasion that you do catch the faint scent of nature. Many of us want more green in our daily lives, but suffer from busy schedules and a lack of space to grow plants. A local company called Lilliput Tales* has come up with a solution that requires very little time and effort. The solution is a mossarium – basically, a glass jar filled with a little landscape of rocks and moss. Think of it as sort of like a fish tank, with no fish! It only requires a spritz of water every few weeks and very little attention thereafter. It’s much easier than growing plants, and less cleanup than a fish tank! Source: http://www.hongkonghustle.com/shopping/6715/lilliput-tales-hong-kong-moss-mossarium-hk-kit-wanchai-lilliputtales-nature-plants-kapok-shopping-green-living/ After doing my homework on the mossarium concept, I found out this whole terrarium trend was a global hustle for quite some time. Long a fixture of elementary school classrooms, terrariums have recently begun gaining favor with young design enthusiasts and creative types. But today’s look nothing like the fish-tank structures and kitschy miniature greenhouses that were popular in the ’70s. These terrariums marry the current rage for Victoriana with the growing interest in handmade crafts and all things do-it-yourself. Add to that a touch of locavore fervor, as more urbanites take to terraces and fire escapes to grow flowers and herbs in pots. Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/03/garden/03terrarium.html So now this should make sense – these terrariums and mossarium are part of the Victorian / Steam Punk trends we spoke of earlier. It should now make sense if you are into science fiction and see these containers showing miniature figures around large plants as if they are in an alternate universe or shrunken down to size. Also, the jars themselves when you look at them appear to be Victorian style containers mostly. But this also look like a global hustle because of the miniaturization which is always the rave in Asia since bonsai trees. It is possible for someone to actually create this side hustle anywhere in the world and do it based on different themes and setups and I found that very interesting overall as a global hustle. This is a business model we can teach someone in another country to do and sell from a market cart in Central America or North Africa, so that’s why I decided to check this out a lot closer. So this can be a craft project that someone who want to side hustle can make and sell as a side hustle to coworkers and craft tables at church, or get their kids to make terrariums and mossariums and sell them at farmer’s markets during the summer. Or better yet, someone can setup one of those kiosk carts in the mall and sell these items over the summer or create a pop-up shop. I decided to do more research on the business model as a nice diversion from the technology stuff I’m doing all the time and now going to discuss my thoughts with you brothas and sistas out there to consider. Let me share my research and knowledge on what I done as a pretty fun rainy day/weekend project. My First Terrarium In the picture above, I created my first experimental terrarium. I created this terrarium in under 10 minutes but had to spend time gathering all of the initial supplies. I looked at a lot of articles and YouTube videos and gathered my notes and here is what I had to get: Container Jar. I got this glass jar from the Container Store and it cost $10 and I believe this is a 64oz jar if I’m not mistaken. Because this was my first project, I wanted to get something not to big but not to small either and this size was just right. Rocks. Rocks are used for drainage of the water so the roots are not soaking in water. I did not get rocks but got the natural coarse sand from Lowe’s because the river rocks I felt where too big for small terrarium setups. The rocks cost about $5. Activated Carbon. You will see on the Internet that they use “horticulture charcoal” to remove the soggy smell of a terrarium but Lowe’s didn’t have any. But I read elsewhere and the guy from Lowe’s told me that using activated carbon that is used in fish tanks to make the water clear is what I really need. So I went to Wal-Mart and got it from there and that cost about $6. Potting Soil. I got some basic potting soil from Wal-Mart that cost under $1 since I do not need a lot of soil for a small terrarium container. Plant. I got this South African plant from Lowes and I believe the price was about $3. The plant is capable of handling drought conditions but do require some light but I will just keep the jar around the windows anyway. You will find a nice collection in Wal-Mart or Lowe’s around their indoor cactus plants. Sheet Moss. This is the green top covering surrounding the plant to give it a more natural decorative look and I got the sheet moss from Lowe’s for around $5. So to create the terrarium, I did it in the following order as I listed above. I put in a layer of rocks for the bottom, put the activated carbon chips on top and swirled it around in the jar to mix up with the rocks, then I laid down some potting soil and installed the plant and put on the airtight lid and I was done. I thought it look nice for the first time and was pretty fast. Actually, this was very fast and probably faster than creating bracelets or other side hustle craft projects that the sistas work on. Look like something Charles Darwin used to collect exotic plant samples overseas to bring back home and study. Now, I realize looking at the jar if I wanted to sell “life in a jar” and do it Victorian style, I can apply a Victorian label on the jar and sell these at a farmer’s market. So let’s talk the business model. Okay, if you add up the cost of everything I purchased, we are talking about $30, depending on the plant arrangement. But I believe I can make 10 more with the potting soil, activated carbon, sheet moss and rocks that I have. The sale price of most terrariums I’ve seen run about that price from $25 to $30. So if I get another container and another plant and sell a copy, then my profit will be about $10 to $15 per terrarium and 10 of them can be $100 to $150 profit. That is actually a nice profit model, especially considering how easy these things are to put together, especially as a side hustle for the kids. Creating Mossariums Mossariums are your Victorian craze because back in those times, it was fashionable to grow gardens with moss and that was a practice called bryology. Many of you guys probably see “moss gardens” with rocks and stuff like that – that is from the Victorian era. Now that Victorian is the craze, people are trying to create these moss gardens in a much more smaller format and that is where mossariums are coming in at. Mossariums uses a different concept altogether where there is little soil or even plants and the focus is on lush green moss as the covering with loose moss to create a micro-landscape. But to make things more exciting, small miniature figures are added to create a diorama scene. This is the new craze that is going on worldwide and I will try to make one of these soon. It is my understanding that you can make moss from gathering it at a park or stealing a small sample from an existing moss garden and mix the sample with yogurt spread thin to grow as much as you want. I do not know yet but this does sound right and I will look into doing this project myself. A lot of people say these mossariums create oxygen source indoors but I’m not buying that but then again, in a huge city like Bejing or Hong Kong with pollution, might be a good selling point. I believe it can take several weeks to grow moss so the bigger your mossarium, the longer it will take to mature and that means the price of these things will not be cheap either. It sounds to me the Steampunk and Victorian cats will love to appreciate bryology and probably would pay a premium for a certain or rare kind of moss that grew in a historic place or the mossarium represents a Victorian garden for example. In a container, rocks are not only at the bottom of a mossarium but appear to be part of the landscape to show something like a grassy cliff or if the moss is thick enough, a grassy knoll scene. In addition, mossariums are not fully enclosed and have an opening, maybe to produce oxygen. Incorporating Dioramas and Scenes It appears the way some of the entrepreneurs set themselves apart in the terrarium and mossarium game is to create a scene using figures. I do not think a terrarium would be a good environment due to the enclosed setting that means high humidity will mess up any unnatural items in that enclosure. I think terrariums should focus on rare plants in a jar as a specimen with the Victorian feel. So dioramas and scenes probably should be done only on mossariums. I’m building out a model urban city to demonstrated a revitalized hood and been working on it for years but the figures and material comes from Guangzhou, China and you can find this stuff on eBay. The same figures you see in some of these mossariums are the same painted figures on eBay if you do a search. So now you know where to get the figures from. Now, for a brotha or sista who want to setup a Victorian mossarium shop, you can easily paint these figurines brown to make them people of color and create people of color scenes. With moss and rocks and the right container, there are plenty of scenes brothas and sistas can create. For example, a brotha and sista climbing the side of a lush green mountain in Costa Rica – you can create that scene. Or you can create a grassy knoll hill with a Black couple relaxing under a tree. There are a lot of scenes we can create and one of my focus will be in Africa with African wildlife like Elephants and zebras and giraffes inside of a mossarium. Or create an African village or African life in a rural African area as the mossarium diorama scene. But even better and this is my demo model - I’m going to create a nice scale model of a front lawn that is all moss with tile pathways and a statue in the middle. Mossariums do not sound cheap or quick to build and I will try to get started on my project soon and see how it turns out. How Can Brothas and Sistas Move on Terrariums and Mossariums? I hope a smart brotha or sista realize the reason why I wrote this article is to show them the global trends and patterns they can adopt and apply to their own hustle to get their money up. Mossariums and terrariums would probably work well in the hood as a side hustle or even a full hustle. I think there are a lot of possibilities with this type of hustle. The first thing that come to my mind was how easy it was to build a terrarium and the low investment cost. What immediately came to my mind was this could be a nice summer project for a bunch of kids to do and take them to the farmer’s market to sell and show them how to manufacture a product and sell it and calculate the profits or net revenue. Terrariums are Victorian style and are still the in-thing and if I can build one up in a few minutes, any kid can do the same thing and enjoy the experience. What a grown brotha and sista can do is create their own theme for mossariums and terrariums and create their own brand off these things. They can sell to cats at their job and setup vendor tables and sell them there. They can also do craft shows and also sell at farmer’s markets. They can even sell them at flea markets and boot shows (UK). Then they can make deals with local florists and sell out of their shops as a designer collection of mossariums and terrariums. Then a smart brotha or sista can create their own pop-up shop once their name been out where people can come in a buy them off the shelves. I do not see this terrarium or mossarium thing as a global hustle but a way to make quick profits and as one of the side hustles out there for a multiple revenue stream. But I do know a good benefit that is global of this whole thing and that is to create empowerment in other countries. We can instruct the women in Africa for example how to make terrariums and mossariums and they can sell them in urban African cities to earn an income. We can show brothas in Brazil how to paint the figurines and mass produce scenes and ship them out worldwide as a DIY custom kit for sale. This is one of those business models that the 3rd Strategic Institute loves because we can teach someone in the rural Philippines to create this stuff and they earn enough money to reinvest in their local community like a playground or soccer field.