I discovered Toro last time I was in Falmouth. On the surface, it is just a plant shop, but it is a very beautiful plant shop – it somehow feels like my favourite corners of Instagram made real, so I knew I had to find out more about this little space and its owner Tor Harrison. It turns out, I was right – and there’s a lot more to Toro than initially meets the eye…
What’s the most important thing to know about Toro?
Toro is more than just a plant shop. It is a hub for creativity and somewhere to learn and be inspired.
Toro is in Falmouth’s Old Brewery Yard – what appealed to you about that little spot particularly?
The shop is small, light and in a sunny, sheltered spot in a friendly courtyard. It was the perfect blank canvas to create an oasis of lush greenery. There are lots of independent business owners in this part of Falmouth and because of that there is a strong sense of community and support here which appealed to me.
You’ve clearly got a really good eye – how do you decide what to stock in the shop?
I want to be able to offer a wide variety of plants and products for a wide variety of tastes, conditions and price points, whether you’re after an air-purifying Boston fern, a desert-loving echeveria or a hand-pinched porcelain planter. I source all my plants from UK nurseries and also stock a range of products that are botanically inspired and handmade in the UK such as organic skincare from Honest, ceramics from Folklore and plant stands from Heather Scott Design.
You have a really strong aesthetic – why is this important to you?
So much of my personality is reflected in Toro and I knew from the beginning that the way I captured the details of the store and products was going to be an important part of the overall aesthetic. I love photographing my plants against a white backdrop so they can really sing and I’m a bit addicted to curating images which is why Instagram has been a fun medium on which to promote the brand.
You mentioned that Toro is somewhere to learn and be inspired. Tell us a little bit about the workshops you offer.
Working in collaboration with local artist and teacher Mimi Robson, we have hosted several meditative art workshops which have explored traditional and more unconventional botanical drawing, painting, calligraphy and print making. The groups are small and intimate and surrounded by the lush plant life which makes for a very focussed and peaceful atmosphere. They are so rewarding and it is lovely to see Toro transform into a studio space.
Tell us about a good day and a bad day in the life of Toro?
I really love what I do – the place is great when there’s a buzz about it, when there are people in and out, some who stop for coffee, others who are there to find just the right thing. It’s so rewarding being able to give advice, help make choices and demystify [plant] care. There is never really a dull day. I guess the ‘bad’ element is trying to get that work-life balance – making sure I get enough quality time with my partner and for myself outside of the Toro sphere.
What inspires you?
I could write an essay on this subject! I guess for Toro it has to be the plants themselves. I strongly believe they have the power to change our living and working spaces and therefore our mood, spirit and wellbeing. They cleanse the air, bring a bit of the wild outdoors in and encourage us to take care of something outside of ourselves. I love coming into the store in the mornings and the freshness of the air and all the scents just hit me and bring me back down to earth.
What are you most proud of?
Selling house plants is a pretty niche business, I hadn’t done it before and I didn’t know anyone else who had either so I can safely say I had some extremely doubtful moments when setting up, but I stuck to my instinct and invested everything I had into it and I haven’t looked back since.
What advice would you give to someone thinking of setting up their own venture in Cornwall?
Cornwall can be a frustrating place to work as it relies so heavily on the tourist industry. It seems like everyone gears up for the summer trade and the place pretty much shuts down in winter. Luckily for me Falmouth has a great University which keeps it bubbling with life all year round. Also because there are so many independent business owners here there is quite an entrepreneurial spirit in the air and a collaborative energy. For lifestyle and scenery, Cornwall is unbeatable.
I want to see where Toro takes me, but it is still in its infancy so I can’t predict anything right now – this first year has been such a whirlwind, I’d like to just grow organically. I’ve already met so many wonderful and inspiring people along the way I feel truly supported and that is a powerful thing.
Having established confessions of a design geek in 2010, Katie Treggiden has gone on to a career in design journalism, writing for titles such as The Guardian, The Telegraph, Elle Decoration, Stylist, Design Milk and Ideal Home. In 2014, she launched Fiera, an independent magazine dedicated to discovering new talent at the world’s design fairs. Her second book, Makers of East London, was published in 2015.
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