PORTLAND, Ore. — The pandemic has turned Claudia Dane and her husband into gardeners.
"At the beginning of COVID I noticed we were eating one of our favorite things, which is bread, mozzarella, basil and tomatoes," Dane said.
They ate veggies so often, the couple decided to grow their own and started the hunt for an Oregon-made planter box. Their commitment to shop local is a few years old. But last summer, after the Black Lives Matter movement for social justice took off, Dane wanted to especially focus on Black-owned businesses. That's how she found power siblings Jaylen and Kyla Palmer.
Jaylen, 17, and his sister Kyla, 13, built their first raised planter box for their mom last May.
"Our first box was raised and my mom really liked it because she didn’t have to bend all the way to the ground so we thought that was a good style,” Kyla said.
Seeing a possible business venture, they posted photos online and orders poured in, including one from Dane. The siblings' planter boxes are raised a few feet off the ground which makes it easier for people with back problems to garden.
"It also helps people with mobility issues, so if you’re in a wheelchair you can still slide under the 2-foot leg box and garden,” Jaylen said.
The sibling duo calls themselves J&K Partnership. They've had about 50 customers so far and have turned their parents' driveway into their workshop.
"We make our measurements, we cut it and put it together," Jaylen said. "Depending on if the customer wants it or not, we stain it and put legs on it."
But these young entrepreneurs are not only running their start-up, they’re also balancing school work as well.
"We just try to create a schedule with our homework and our orders and just get everything done in order, so it’s not stressful, so we have everything in line," Kyla said.
The Palmers say that organization is key.
For them, all that hard work pays off when they see the joy on their customers' faces.
And for Claudia, Jaylen and Kyla's community-conscious neighbor, the work shows commitment and brightens her days.
"Hard workers, I mean I respect them so much," Dane said. "Every morning we would go out there and then go, 'Oh look at this one grow." It just gave us a lift."
In addition to school and building the planter boxes, Jaylen Palmer, at only 17, recently got his private pilot license.