Spring 2016
Living the Organic Lifestyle By Sam Ujvary

How one man’s hobby sprouted into an urban gardening movement

Successfully Kickstarting

By now, just about everyone is familiar with Kickstarter, the online crowdfunding campaign for companies to creatively gain investors. We asked Chad Corzine, founder of Urban Agriculture, about using Kickstarter to develop his company:


When we were doing the Kickstarter, we had been at farmers markets for a few months and we knew it was working. We knew people would like it, but I had originally built out this company with the premise that it was going to be all people like myself who were going to use it. It ended up I was wrong — and that’s a good thing — but originally that was my thought process. So I figured I didn’t have enough contact with people my own age at farmer’s markets.

We tried to do a Kickstarter to see if the Internet would respond well to the project. We had a walking budget of about $350. We paid for a videographer, some lighting effects and about $100 in gas. We wrote it on a notepad and shot it one day. I learned a lot about what not to do when trying to craft one. We really just wanted to take our idea and see how well people would receive it if they weren’t hearing the spiel in person. Could someone see the idea without meeting me and say, “Hey this is a good idea, I’d like to do this.”

The first week of the Kickstarter was the most demoralizing week I’ve ever had. I had a big “Field of Dreams” mentality of: “If you build it, they will come.” So we spent all this time, rewrote it four times, shot it twice, spent all night editing, and here I am thinking we’re going to make a million dollars because I love my idea so much. My mom bought some; my dad bought some, and then, nothing. The deal with Kickstarter is you get an email every time someone has contributed to your campaign. You have no idea how emotionally taxing it is, to look at your phone and have no control over how much you’re selling. We found we needed to go out and get a personality to help us get the word out. We ended up getting picked up by a YouTube lifestyle blogger who made us the product of the month. That gave us a big push.

All in all it was a great learning experience, and I hope I never have to do it again. — Chad Corzine, founder, Urban Agriculture


For some period of time, a clean way of life has been at the forefront of a lot of people’s lives. What starts out with exercise, a healthy diet and routine yoga classes eventually snowballs into grocery shopping for organic food, household and personal hygiene products. There’s a movement out there that has people thinking if they’re taking better care of their bodies, why not expand that to include taking care of their environments as well?

For Chad Corzine, making the transition from candles and bath and body products to his newest endeavor allowed him to hit two proverbial birds with one organic stone. It eventually led him to start his own company, Urban Agriculture.

A little over a year ago, Corzine was working for the family business (Archipelago). He had been traveling for a good month, working long hours and not eating particularly healthy. Having grown concerned about his lifestyle, Corzine saw the need for a change. So he started exercising and eating more of a balanced diet. “Throughout that process,” he said, “I got the idea of why couldn’t I grow vegetables on my own balcony?”

Living in a Los Angeles apartment, a balcony garden was no easy feat — think a broken low-raised bed with soil and water trickling down from a top-floor apartment balcony. Really wanting to try his hand at gardening, Corzine pondered a simpler method. “None of (the grow kits on the Internet) really offered me the ability to plant it and leave it. There was always ‘buy this, plant a seed and buy more soil,’ and these $15 grow kits were turning into $40 experiments and headaches,” he said.

That’s where the idea developed. In June 2015, Corzine and a couple friends began to locally source garden supplies to build grow kits in his apartment and sell them at farmer’s markets and swap meets. “After I found out that I could grow my own little balcony garden, I figured everyone would want to get a hold of this.” He was right. In November he went to the Rose Bowl Flea Market in Pasadena and sold somewhere in the ballpark of 150 grow kits in three hours — at full retail. It was about that time that his father convinced him to leave the family business and pursue this full time. It was sound advice; Urban Agriculture will be in more than 800 storefronts next month.

His company seems to have been the result of a perfect storm consisting of a gift industry background, tremendous passion for a projUrbanAgriculture_6149ect of this caliber and seeing the need for this type of product. Catapulted by the desire for Corzine to start his own business, Urban Agriculture was bound to hit the ground running. “This idea — no pun intended — just worked out organically,” said Corzine.

In part, the recent success of Urban Agriculture can be accredited to the seemingly perpetual uptick in organic product usage, clean lifestyle living and our world’s desire to alter its carbon footprint. The green lifestyle movement continues to thrive and evolve, no longer confining its products to a single type of specialty store. Now it’s mainstream. “If you had someone in the ‘90s ask where they can go to buy hemp clothing, you would have told them to check out a head shop; that’s the only place in the world that would sell it. Now you can go to Urban Outfitters and buy stuff that’s made out of hemp,” said Corzine. “I think conceptually that’s going to happen with a lot of the things we create as well as other people in our industry. You’ll start finding items everywhere because there’s a need for them.”

There’s a need for this type of product especially for city dwellers who feel they have a black thumb. Ideal as a personal purchase or a giftable, the grow kits were designed for individuals with no gardening experience as well as organic aficionados, exponentially diversifying the company’s customer base.

Customers are becoming increasingly aware of how to preserve their surroundings. Dedicating a space in your shop for green products will only ensure sales and, at the very least, awareness. As Corzine put it: “There will be a lot more people in this world trying to get into this stuff. Which is fine — the more people, the more awareness. We all win.”

These companies represent just a few of those that have embraced the organic living movement with products that speak to the ever-growing green community.

Sam Ujvary

Sam is the managing editor of Gift Shop Pets, Museums & More and Party & Halloween Retailer, and is a contributing editor for Gift Shop Magazine. She has a copywriting background and has been in publishing for six years.

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