September 24, 2022

FAIRHAVEN — As dozens of interested people crowd around a booth featuring house plants at the Huttleston Marketplace, Sophia Furtado, owner of Soph’s Botanicals, pokes her head out with a big smile.
She’s happy to see so many plant enthusiasts in the SouthCoast.
“I love plants. My parents, my grandparents they were always into having a garden,” said Furtado. 
Furtado has specifically been a fan of house plants, having over 50 tropical and rare species inside her home that she had collected over the years. But, in winter 2019, she noticed her collection started to become a little out of control. Her husband suggested she sell them on Facebook Marketplace.
Then in March 2020, the pandemic grew her business to new heights.
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“We really just blew up from there,” she said, adding that she started to offer no contact delivery. “I started propagating, cutting things, replanting and making my own to keep selling.”
She now sells houseplants of all sizes including pothos, Lady Valentines, philodendrons and her favorite: the Swiss cheese plants.
“I don’t want to just become a Home Depot, where you just go there and look at plants; I’m willing to help,” said Furtado, 27. “I’m a much better experience and you’re supporting a small local business, too.”
Born in New Bedford, Furtado lived in São Miguel in the Azores until she moved back to the city for school when she was six years old.
She worked as a paraprofessional for the Southeastern Massachusetts Educational Collaborative (SMEC) for five years then as a bank teller at First Citizens.
The, she said, life took its course and she decided to shift her career focus to the houseplant business, which also allowed her to spend more time with her two kids.
“She does a great job,” said Furtado’s daughter Hazel, who also sells bracelets at her mother’s booth. She calls her business Hazel Basil’s Bracelets.
“It’s just a passion of mine so it’s really not a job,” Furtado added. “If you were to ask me at 12 or 13 years old, what would you be doing when you get older I would have never thought it would have been plants.”
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When Furtado is not selling plants, she also DoorDashes across the city. This past April, she saved a Fairhaven woman’s life while on a delivery.
After discovering a woman outside unconscious and bleeding from her head, she located the woman’s husband, called 9-1-1 and used towels to stop the bleeding.
The woman was hospitalized for three weeks with a with a traumatic brain injury. According to Furtado, a doctor told her that if she hadn’t done what she did, the woman would’ve died from her injuries.
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Furtado said it has always been in her nature to help people.
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Although Soph’s Botanicals appears at SouthCoast community marketplaces, it is also an online store where people can order plants and have them shipped right to their doorstep. 
Furtado said she also will stay in touch with her clients to offer any advice.
Last month, Furtado said she helped a local woman’s cherished house plant of 10 years, when it was mysteriously starting to disintegrate.
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Furtado said she investigated and determined it had grown too big for the pot, drinking up water but not enough nutrients to stay alive. She said after helping her, the owner recently reported the houseplant is now thriving again.
“I just love hearing that. It makes me feel so happy,” Furtado said.
Two weeks ago, Furtado invested in a temperature controlled grow tent for her garage. Inside, a purple UV light helps the plants grow in a protected area. “I can treat the plants and not have to worry about them (bugs) crawling through the garage door,” she said.
Furtado’s goal is to eventually own a greenhouse or a store where people can buy plants as well as pots, soil and other equipment. She also is considering serving coffee and offering a relaxing spot for plant therapy similar to the botanical garden at Roger William Park.
But most of all, Furtado said she hopes that when people buy her plants and watch them grow it gives them a boost of confidence in themselves.
“I have a lot of people who come to me and say there are plant killers,” she said. “I want to make sure when someone buys a plant, they have everything they need for that plant.
“I don’t want to set anybody up for a plant failure.”
Standard-Times staff writer Seth Chitwood can be reached at schitwood@s-t.com. Follow him on twitter: @ChitwoodReports. Support local journalism by purchasing a digital or print subscription to The Standard-Times today.

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