“Why, Yes, We Are the Seed Bomb People”

seed bombs by VisuaLingual

A few weeks ago, Michael and I had the pleasure of meeting a new OTR neighbor [a transplant from Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn!]. Upon being introduced to us, he said, “Oh, you’re the seed bomb people.” Wow, our reputation preceded us? We make a lot of things but, at this point, yes, we are the seed bomb people. This was a peculiar sort of validation that made me feel more self-satisfied than I could have anticipated.

When I left my last greige cubicle almost three years ago, I fully expected to find another position that would be a better fit for me. While I searched for it, I resurrected VisuaLingual, the umbrella under which Michael and I had executed design commissions and esoteric self-authored projects in the past. It was a way to stay creative and productive while job-hunting, and it was an attempt at fulfilling that nebulous, yet critical, task of “getting my name out there.” I started with a fairly simple question: what if the Ohio River were a coaster puzzle on your coffee table?

Ohio River Coasters

My job search was taking a while, which was a pretext for another question: what if a map of Over-the-Rhine were to show its buildings instead of its streets?

OTR Building Footprint print in lagoon

As time permitted, Michael and I started collaborating again, and asking more questions: what if bits and pieces of neighborhood ghost signs could become inspirational aphorisms?

Accidental Aphorisms by VisuaLingual

As weeks turned to months, my job search became more and more discouraging, and eventually demoralizing. But, a curious thing happened on my way to wallowing in self-pity. I realized that I’m not prepared to let this particular moment in this particular place make me feel worthless. I continued looking and applying while, at the same time, our self-initiated work continued to occupy more of our time. Without concrete expectations, any positive response felt like a victory. Each minor success fueled more small-scale experiments.

What if seed bombs could be produced and marketed as a product?

seed bombs by VisuaLingual

To our shock and amazement, our seed bombs became a hit last fall, making their appearance on the pages of magazines like Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar. Almost overnight, stores started contacting us, and production scaled up from dozens to hundreds at once. I still remember feeling like a rock star when we filled our first wholesale order for 100 seed bomb pouches. Whew!

So, here we are. If someone had asked me three years ago to describe my ideal job, I think I’ve actually made a concerted effort at creating it. Sure, I’d never expected to have to know the difference between a packing slip and a bill of lading, or to have shipping costs memorized, but I’m grateful to have been learning as much as I have.

Yesterday, I sent out a freight shipment of 3,000 seed bomb pouches to a distribution center in Pennsylvania. I didn’t even bother taking any photos this time! By now, we don’t feel like rock stars anymore. We’re just the seed bomb people, and we’re pleased to make your acquaintance.


10 thoughts on ““Why, Yes, We Are the Seed Bomb People”

  1. Your story is so inspiring! Don’t get discouraged! It’s tough to strike out on your own, which is why most people don’t or can’t do it. We’re all rooting for you and appreciate your efforts. Thank you so much for sharing!

  2. I hope you always remember that the individual path is not easy, but it’s got to be more rewarding, right? Stay on the straight and narrow, and keep your eyes on the prize.

  3. Thank you for your honesty, and please continue to share your trials and tribulations here. Those of us with “real jobs” (LOL!) can live vicariously through you!

  4. Wait! Stop! Reverse! If we plant only what is local to our area, we’ll have the greatest chance of success, with the least amount of water input, fertilizer and maintenance. The reason we have weeds, invasive species and endangered species is human disruption of whole ecosystems. So please do not use seed bombs, seed packets or non-local plants. Beware, stores still sell invasive plants; it’s up to us to research which plants may be problematic where we live.

  5. Since I don’t know how to contact you directly, VL, I’ll just have to post my request that you remove your references to seed bombs from your website. Nationwide, invasive plants are problematic in over half of our open spaces/refuges, and these invasive plants are on the increase. This presents problems that have to be addressed with lots of money, plenty of government agencies, and volunteers like me who go out and pull weeds. Invasive plants are harmful because they take over habitat of other plants, thereby diminishing diversity. They are also inferior to native plants that provide the proper nutrition for wildlife that have co-evolved with specific, locally native plants.

  6. Hello, Dee. Thanks so much for taking the time to express your concerns. For your reference, there is an email address listed on the About VisuaLingual page of this blog.

    As part of our business practice, we periodically reference the USDA’s documentation regarding forbidden and invasive plants, and we work with our seed suppliers to develop seed mixtures that are in compliance with the laws of all US states. That way, even if you live on the East coast and decide to plant our Southwest seed bombs in your garden, neither you nor we will be breaking the law or introducing invasive plants into your habitat.

    The guidelines do occasionally change, and there may be county-specific guidelines of which we are unaware. Beyond that, it’s possible that certain plants may be considered noxious by a group or organization, but that they’re not illegal. We go through great lengths to keep up with state guidelines, but you’re correct that customers need to educate themselves about the specifics where they live.

    All that being said, if there are problematic plants included in any of our mixtures, we would appreciate you letting us know. Again, you can find the email address on the About VisuaLingual page.

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