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Plants, bugs and rock & roll: Meet Chantal’s new t-shirt co, Heavy Petal

For the last two and a half years, I’ve been working on a semi-secret project. Now I can talk about it! It’s called Heavy Petal. We make cool tees for plant people — they’re soft and made in the USA. Our graphic tees, as the LA Times (!) described them last week, “treat plants like vintage rock and hip-hop artists.”

Heavy Petal is a partnership between my friend (and former 9-to-5 coworker) Ari Wells and me. We started working on it in May 2020 — so very early in the pandemic, when we would meet remotely after our day jobs to hash out designs, caress fabrics, finalize prototype t-shirts and order samples. Lots and lots of samples.

Jamai Fisher and Emmitt James were the gorgeous stars of our first campaign, photographed by Kyle Meeks in my yard in Northeast LA.

With cofounder Ari Wells.

Ari and I decided early on that we didn’t want to do spoof tees; that’s why Monstera isn’t in, like, a Metallica font. Instead, we want to capture the vibe of each plant and amp it up until it looks like an actual band. A band that you’re pretty sure you saw open for Sabbath in ’77 or feature on Mary J. Blige’s What’s the 411?.

Our first lineup of band tees for plants are: HelleborePoppy, and Monstera.

Hellebore — its nonconformist blooms shouting from the snow in late winter, early spring — connected us with punk. Particularly woman-fronted bands like X-ray Spex of the ’70s and riot grrrl artists of the ’90s like Bikini Kill. You’ll see the zine influence in there.

Poppy, with its West Coast loyalty, is inspired by classic hip-hop of the ’90s and its matching merch tees with big heroic portraits — think TLC, Eazy-E. Don’t worry, we managed to fit Eschscholzia californica in a special spot.

And Monstera, with its wicked splits, fenestrations, mask-shaped ribcage-ish leaves and truly a monster in its name, made us go ’70s doom metal. Black Sabbath’s “Sweet Leaf” was on repeat while we worked on this one.

The illustrious Debra Prinzing of Slow Flowers Society and Bloom Imprint modeling our Hellebore tee in her bloom-dacious Pacific Northwest garden.

Bruce Brooks watering some beauties in Hellebore, in the home he shares with his wife, Debra Prinzing (see above!).

Micah Cratty rockin Hellebore.

Jamai rockin Poppy amid the bougainvillea.

If y’all don’t already know, Emmitt James and Jamai Fisher are two powerhouse LA artists. In addition to their individual instas, check out their collaborative EmJayJawns.

I like to size up my Poppy tee by 2 or 3 sizes, making it the best oversized graphic tee.

Emmitt in Monstera under the pergola.

We want people to be able to wear their favorite plants wherever they go. So we’ve got more designs, more music x horticulture pairings coming up, which will be certified bangers. Sign up for occasional emails on heavypetal.la and be the first to know.

Speaking of the website, another part of it we LOVE is Petalheads. It’s our Q&A blog in which we ask our community about their plants. Our inaugural entry features our friend Maria Bustos, whose Instagram is the perfect combination of life-altering music recommendations, cute cats, and houseplants. Her interview is a thrill.

On our Petalheads blog, we talk to plant/music/art connoisseur Maria Bustos. Come for the colorful lithops, stay for the photos of her cats Theo and Simone slinking around vinyl.

Finally, yes…we know the shirts are pricey. They reflect the living wages US workers got paid to make them, and (honestly just a fraction of the many hours of) time and resources Ari and I have put into designing, testing and promoting them. I’ve been wearing these shirts nonstop and they’re holding up mightily while also getting softer.

Our eternal thanks to Kyle Meeks for his brilliant photos in my garden and to our models Emmitt James, Jamai Fisher, Micah Cratty, Debra Prinzing, Bruce Brooks, and Maria Bustos.

Listen to your plants!

—TH

Hellebore greetings from BHG Stylemaker 2022!