We had the good fortune of connecting with Abra Lee and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Abra, what do you attribute your success to?
Putting deep thought and execution into the oral, written, and visual storytelling experience we curate for the community and clients we serve. Everything in the business is rooted in symbolism and meaning. From the name of the company “Conquer The Soil” to the colors used in presentations it is all influenced by the history and art of horticulture. That is our north star and guides all of the decisions that we make.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
What sets me apart from others is that the historic stories I share and write in horticulture I have also lived. When I talk about women that owned plant nurseries in a past I know that experience because I worked in them. When I discuss floriculture there is a rich understanding as I have led a team that built a floral clock. When I discuss trees there is true respect as I was a municipal arborist.
I got to where I am today professionally by trusting my spidey sense, trying a bunch of different things, keeping my antenna up and watching the universe for signs that I was heading on the right path. It has allowed me to live in my purpose.
It was never easy. Of course there are challenges as life is a roller coaster. Though it may not have been easy, it was always, always, interesting.
I overcame challenges a few ways. By freeing myself to not live in fear. For example I failed out of college at one point and then went back to complete my horticulture degree. Early on I owned this in interviews, public conversations, etc. It freed me as when you don’t hide that kind of thing you don’t worry about people finding out and judging you. You own it and that has never hurt my success if anything it propelled it as from that moment forward I was never scared to fail.
Lessons I have learned along the way are the value of the elders. Their knowledge and connections that they share, a price cannot be placed on this, it is invaluable.
I want the world to know that Conquer The Soil is a place where celebration happens. We want the stories that we share to move the spirit and we choose them as they have moved our spirit. It is a community that you will feel uplifted and should bring joy and even renewed confidence to you. We are very intentional about the choices that we make and deeply think things through so that the passion and excitement resonate in our words and visuals.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Without hesitation I would take a person straight to Oakland Cemetery in Atlanta to go for a walk and get their horticulture and history on. You can take the most beautiful photos there. Also a walk around the Atlanta University Center would be insightful.
We would swing by Velvet Taco to eat as it reminds me of my time living in Houston, Texas so that is a bit nostalgic for me. Also the lunch one day from the Busy Bee, Viva La Vegan, and Lottafrutta.
An exciting person to hang out with would be my childhood friend Bem Joiner of ‘Atlanta Influences Everything.’ He is the real deal and a dot connector and most incredible representative for the culture of Atlanta.
We would also go to the National Center for Civil and Human Rights as the movement matters here. I would take a person by the tombs of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Coretta Scott King to pay their respect. And to Charlie Brown Airport or Peachtree Dekalb Airport to sip a coffee or tea and watch the planes take off and land. Oh and take pictures in front of the Outkast and John Lewis murals.
I also love the Cherokee Garden Library at the Atlanta History Center and would share that experience as one that is exceptional for horticulture and history.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I want to dedicate my shoutout to my Mama. A retired history educator who pointed me towards and helped me along the path where I am now living in my purpose. And that purpose is to give people a meaningful experience in the history and art of horticulture. I also credit the ancestors that came before me–the flower sellers, horticulturist, arborist, entomological artists, gardeners, landscape architects, rosarians and more that paved the way for me to have a thriving career in horticulture.
Carlos Alejandro (headshot of Abra Lee), Library of Congress (Black Flower Sellers), Monica Gibbs Design (Conquer The Soil Logo)