PORTLAND BUSINESS JOURNAL - New plant shop, bakery centers Portland’s Filipino community in a shared space
Rachel Ellis·August 02, 2023
Botanical Bakeshop at 4981 SE Woodstock is a joint bakery and plant shop run by two Filipino businessowners trying to create a shared space for their community.
Geleen Abenoja and Daphne Peters were both showcasing their individual businesses at makers markets in 2021 when they met. Now, they run a shared space called Botanical Bakeshop, and are trying to create a community hub for Portland’s Filipino community.
Both women opened their businesses during Covid or immediately after it hit. Abenoja’s Shop Halo Halo is a Filipino-inspired bakery serving treats like ube crackle cookies, and Peters’ plant shop, Daphne’s Botanicals, is a plant shop and design studio.
The bakery that Abenoja worked at as a pastry chef closed during Covid, so she took matters into her own hands and started Shop Halo Halo first as a delivery-based bakery. Soon, Abenoja grew a following, and shifted to working booths at markets to accommodate her fast-growing fan base.
Just as Abenoja considered renting a commercial kitchen to keep up with demand, she met Peters when they were booth neighbors at a market, and Peters spilled water on Abenoja’s table.
Geleen Abenoja, who was raised baking with her family, is a self-taught pastry chef.
“I had these waterproof tablecloths and I was like ‘Oh, let me share these with you!’” Abenoja said. “It was like a meet cute moment and I was like, ‘This feels like a Hallmark movie.’”
At the time, Peters also was considering opening a retail space, and asked Abenoja if she’d be interested in opening a shared space. Though pastries and plants don’t seem to have much in common on the surface, both women viewed it as an opportunity as Filipino women in Portland to create a community hub for their Filipino neighbors.
“A lot of my kind of organizing work is centered around environmental justice in the Philippines and how that impacts things like farming — my parents come from farming families in the Philippines — and how that's changed the trajectory of their whole lives because they've had to move abroad and all of that,” Abenoja said. “So here, we want to create a space for our community to feel at home in, have a taste of home in and then be surrounded by lush foliage, because we've all been displaced from our homeland.”
Peters considers her plant shop as more than just a shop, though. She hopes to expand Daphne’s Botanicals into plant arrangements and design to help clients arrange certain plants to look and thrive the best in their spaces.
Daphne Peters, whose dad was a tree farmer, reconnected with her familial love of plants after moving from New York to Portland.
“I think (plant design is) the next stage of houseplants, like people in the pandemic said, ‘I just want to get any plant that makes me happy.’ I think the next stage is incorporating plants that go with your interior design, and really look good and (are) not just there, clumped together in a corner,” Peters said. Peters also invented a patent-pending biodegradable plant hydration tracker called PlantDoc.
The two opened their shop at 4981 S.E. Woodstock Blvd. July 15. Abenoja hopes she can expand Shop Halo Halo into catering and hosting community events. “We've already started to host a few workshops in this space and community events, but we really want it to be a gathering space, aside from just a plant shop and bakery,” Abenoja said.