Home gardener inspired to grow her own pot business

Blaine Tiongson is inspired by things that grow. She spent her childhood on three acres of land, zigzagged with creeks and teeming with plants, where a love of nature settled deep in her bones. After 15 years in the restaurant industry, Tiongson returned to her roots, cultivating her magnificent garden. Because of her love of this, she began creating creative planters and garden accessories to inspire others to connect with nature. In her garage, this is where Mommas Pots began, which has now grown exponentially into an extremely suc­cessful home décor business. Even with everything on her plate, she decided to open a boutique in El Cajon.

Tiongson said Momma Pots was incorporated in 2017, although she started the research and develop­ment stage of the business in 2015.

“For the first three years of business, we made hand quartered pots and painted them all, so that is how the name of the business came about,” she said. “My daughter, who was two at the time, and I had pots all over my property and she was just learning to talk. She kept saying, ‘Momma, pots, momma pots.’ It was cute, so the business really started as a passion project.”

Tiongson said coming from the restaurant industry and working 90 hours a week with “tunnel vision,” there was no time to stop and smell the roses. She was in a car accident and decided she needed to slow down a bit, so she decided to create something to help oth­ers. After her accident, she started gardening and said it was so therapeutic for her, she wanted to find a way to share it.

“Now with a creative pot, people will be more inclined to look and watch their plant grow and keep it alive inside. When they go outside, they can potentially take off their blinders and see all the beauty Mother Nature has to offer,” she said.

Tiongson said she started with weekend markets, small craft shows, and she sold out every show.

“It was an artisan craft that was very difficult to


be taught, so I ventured out into a networking group and partnered with a woman who owned a teapot factory. We cre­ated this line together. It took about two years to design and figure out how to manufacture it. We launched our first con­tainer of the Gemstone collec­tion in March when COVID hit. But from that point on, we have sold close to 2 million pots. We are now in over 1,000 stores globally. We just opened our little brick and mortar special room attached to our warehouse by Gillespie Field in El Cajon.”

Tiongson said that she would not lie, and that this was dif­ficult. Momma Pots is self-fi­nanced, and she said when she said “partnered,” it means that they have an exclusive relation­ship with each other.

“Growth has been fantastic. However, it has been very chal­lenging,” she said. “I am not the typical entrepreneur that has an ego that is afraid to ask for help. I am the first one to say, ‘Help me.’ So, I have a wonder­ful mentor networking group that have been in the industry for 35 plus years.”

Tiongson said one mentor said they had been importing their entire life, and he told her that she has had more problems in the last three months than they had in their entire career.

“It was difficult to hear, but at the same time it was empow­ering because I survived,” she said. “And I had never done this before. I am still self-financed, and we are thriving and grow­ing. Yes, it has been extremely challenging, especially being a mother of two small children. But we did it and I am very, very proud. It was hard work, but we are doing very well.”

Tiongson said she has a 20,000 square foot warehouse on the East Coast and just moved into the 15,000 square foot warehouse in El Cajon in March 2023.

“In front of it, we have about a 700 square foot area that we could either convert into office space or use as a showroom/ retail space. I am from East County. I was born in Lake­side. I graduated from El Capi­tan High School. I know East County very well. And there are no really cool plant shops out here. It is not like we are ex­tending our budget by opening an off-site facility. It is already attached to our warehouse. It is conveniently located, and why not? I want to be able to offer it to my community as well.”

Tiongson said that her pots are good for the inside and out­side. All pots are made of food-grade porcelain.

“The quality is very high. The consistency is very good. And they are very durable. Indoor/ outdoor, they have been tested in freezers, ovens, because we sell globally,” she said.

Tiongson said the store is an intimate space and extremely aesthetically pleasing.

“We are going to start offer­ing small private party venues,” she said. “We have had people who want to do a little 10-per­son planting party in the shop. Also, educating is very impor­tant to me. I am a big advocate for both of my kids. Both of my kids go to Lakeview Elementa­ry, so I have built their garden beds, I have donated money, a lot of time to get the garden up and running. I really want to promote that with our youth. I want Momma Pots to partner with some of the neighborhood schools with any kind of events that I can help support our chil­dren and their future. That is extremely important to us.”

Tiongson just won the San Di­ego Business Journal’s Woman of the Year 2023.

“It was a huge accomplish­ment. Especially inspiring young women in business. Just put your head down and with your heart and you can achieve anything,” she said.

Momma Pots has its Gem­stone Collection, Limited Col­lection, Watering Cans, and Vases. To learn more about Momma Pots, visit www.mom­mapots.com.


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