Like many of us during the pandemic, Michelle Sieg took a long hard look at her wardrobe. However, unlike the many of us who decided to throw our ‘going out’ to the back of the closet and commit to re-wearing the same pair of sweatpants all week, Michelle’s creativity took her in a different direction altogether. 

“I looked to all my new-found pandemic friends– my houseplants– for inspiration. Don’t they need pants too? What makes me, a mere human, so deserving of pants that reflect the way I feel inside, while my precious pet plants must forever live in whatever sad pot I assign to them at birth? With no way to express themselves? My heart breaks.” 

And with that pandemic induced stroke of genius, A Pair of Plants was born. 

Her hand crafted plant pants have taken the internet by storm over the last couple of years, frequently going viral as she replicates some of the most iconic pants on the internet in ceramic form. Michelle’s eye for emerging trends, designers and connecting to current culture, is just one of the skillsets she employs towards A Pair of Plants. With over 10 years of experience in the advertising industry and Co-founder of her own production company, Mister, it seems only fitting that she would be the one to bring the world the pair of pants we never knew we needed. We chatted with Michelle about everything from how A Pair of Plants came to fruition, running a small business to AI, content creation and going viral.  

A Pair of Plants Founder and Owner, Michelle Sieg.

But let’s rewind a little to where it all began, with a young creative stuck in her little Los Angeles apartment during covid lockdowns, looking for an artistic outlet. “There was just a moment where I was quite bored and I needed a reason to leave the house. My job was very slow at the time and unfortunately, if I’m not creating something I’m usually just not in a good headspace.” This project led her down the path of starting her own independent creative endeavor. After concepting for a few days she narrowed it down to 2 things, pottery and butts. And that’s when it hit her, pants for your plants. 

“I had a literal Freudian slip because I was talking to my creative partner about the idea of doing ‘ass trays’ but wasn't dead set on that. Then she said ‘Oh, it's so funny that you wanted to do something with butts, I just made a rug in the shape of pants.’ and I was like, Oh, I could do a bunch of different pants, like, just a ton of pairs of plants. And then I thought, oh my god, wait, what if I made pants for plants?”

— Michelle Sieg

The need for a creative outlet to get her out of the house, led her to a pottery studio not far from home. “I signed up for a handbuilding class once I had the idea. I was like, I can’t just go in there and like, not know what to make. Right?” And by class number 2, she was off and running, working on her first ever pair of plant pants. 

Carhartt inspired plant pants
The Classic 5 Pocket Jean

Where many brands or small product based businesses first perfect the product then figure out how to sell it, Michelle’s experience with marketing and advertising led her in the opposite direction. “I had the concept, the content, the commercial and knew the way to market this fake product. I knew those aspects way better than I knew how to run a business, or how to even make ceramics. So there was definitely a point in the beginning where I had put this content out, made a commercial and all this stuff, but I really didn’t have the backend to support it all. And then there was a freakout moment, which is essentially when I went viral. I’d actually sold these props in this commercial, and realized I should probably make them for real.”

The original A Pair of Plants commercial.

At the time she was streamlining her design ideas and trying to get clear on the visuals and aesthetics of the brand, choosing to focus on iconic retro and vintage fits. “As time went on, I was kind of pushed to broaden my original vision because I had so many people that were bringing their own ideas to it. Like, ‘Can you make scrubs for my mom who’s a doctor? Can you make Army pants for my brother who’s a veteran? Then of course the Harry Styles pants were really well received, and I was like, alright, I guess I’m just making all of these now! And that’s when A Pair of Plants really started to take shape. My whole view on life changed and I realized that now I’m always looking at people and their pants!”

This is definitely a sentiment we can understand here at Denim Dudes! But Michelle takes her insight and research a step further, “I started looking at what videos are viral? What pants are they wearing? What could I actually make? And then it just goes from there.” She also attributes the brand’s rise in popularity to the loyal followers who can’t get enough of her plant pants. “I think the reason this idea has been successful is because it’s inspired so many other people. I call them my panties, they brought the fine line, Harry Styles pants to me, and I was like, awesome, yeah I can do that. So while the nugget of this is totally my idea, the reality is that so many people were inspired by it and brought me these ideas, I’m actually having trouble keeping up with them, but it’s great!”

The Harry Styles, Gray Sweat Pants and more in process
Adidas Inspired Track Pant

As we’ve chatted with a lot of different makers over the years, one resource mostly everyone taps is social media, which presents greater challenges to some. Michelle has mastered the art of content creation and the algorithm in the same way she’s mastered her ceramic pants.  

However it didn’t come without a learning curve even for the advertising native. “It definitely took me a minute to find my flow when doing both the content creation and ceramics. It’s so much work just to make the piece and then to also record at the same time, you’re essentially running two different creative processes at once.” says Michelle. “It was a learning curve in a sense that there were stints of time where I was kind of getting lazy with my content and it would be reflected in my view numbers. And by lazy, I mean, I would just record the pant before and then I would record the pant when it was done, and would just do a quick transition video. Then I realized I have to just record bits and pieces of every pant I make, because unfortunately, nowadays, if you don’t have content for a product, it’s like it doesn’t even exist.”

Michelle working on A Pair of Plants

A Pair of Plants resonates so deeply with so many, as we all have emotional attachments and memories associated with our clothes, especially our jeans. As an outsider looking in, it’s no surprise that A Pair of Plants has taken off the way it has. But it’s been Michelle’s creative marketing roots and keen eye for cultural kudos that really set things in motion.

“As weird as it sounds, I did know it was gonna go viral. It was just a matter of which video and when, especially once I started like pumping stuff out on Tik Tok I felt it coming. But did I know it was going to become like a full blown business? Again, I hadn't thought that far ahead. I was just like, I'm gonna get views on this commercial that I shot.”

— Michelle Sieg

A pair of customs
A pair of Juicy sweats

Building off of the hype of her first viral video with over 7 million views, she soon added the Harry Styles Fine Line Pant, Juicy Couture pants and the infamous gray sweatpants. “The biggest push and my most viral video was the gray sweatpants, especially on Tik Tok, that’s a trend with its own meaning and so I knew it had a lot of viability. But did I know how much? No. Those were the pants that really sort of catapulted things.”

The infamous gray sweatpants

With all the success social media marketing has brought A Pair of Plants, it doesn’t come without its stressors like so many creators can resonate with, “I’m definitely beholden to social media, which can be really exhausting. I’ve had burnout periods where I just go into the studio, and I just make and create and I don’t care about the content. But it does affect things. And it’s not as easy to just sell out and cater to what you know will do well but you know, got to do it.” And with a never ending cycle of micro-trends hitting our feeds daily, you might wonder how she pinpoints the right pants for the right moment. “It’s just kind of staying in the know and then making it the moment you have that idea. Unfortunately, in my industry you can have the idea but, by the time you get through the process, the feedback etc. it’s not really relevant anymore. So by running my own thing I can just make it and if it hits, it hits, if it doesn’t then whatever!”

Along with the IRL pants, Michelle has also been dabbling with AI. “I’ve been messing with Mid Journey and playing with all of that. I posted some AI art I made on Instagram, just for fun, I thought people would hate it. And people loved it. That was called ‘AI pair of plants’ and then I started getting messages saying, ‘we want to see you make the ones from, AI’ and ‘we want these as posters!’ And I was like, Ah! So anyway, that’s a whole other territory I could get into.”

Ai Pair of Plants series.
Ai Pair of Plants series.

Perhaps the most exciting part of all, is the fact that A Pair of Plants only recently celebrated its second birthday. With so much growth in such a short amount of time, the future of APOP seems full of endless possibilities. But small businesses don’t come without their growing pains. “I basically had A Pair of Plants identity crisis at the end of last year. I was getting hit up by a lot of stores, and still do, saying ‘We want to put this in our store.’ These are great big name stores, I’m like, I gotta make this happen. These opportunities are here, I gotta figure it out.” 

After making molds, employing some help and essentially setting up her own manufacturing line, Michelle is figuring out the solutions to her demand problem and figuring out if she wants to grow the business and if so, how. As with every small business, scaling doesn’t always lead to happiness. 

“I kind of had a moment where I was like, alright, this is starting to feel like work-work, and I'm trying so hard to push this thing. The reality is, this is a year and a half old, maybe I'm trying to grow too fast. I think in the end, I don't want to manufacture them myself, I don't want to run a factory. That's not why I got into this, I did it for the art of sculpting and having fun, doing something that makes me happy and I enjoy.”

— Michelle Sieg

A Pair of Plants Product Porn Pt. 2

As we’ve heard from many small business owners, staying small at the beginning, even when the hype is pushing you to do the opposite, is often the smarter move. While we live in a world that promotes excessive and endless business growth, going back to the beginning and leaning into the initial reasons one pursues any creative endeavor is almost a right of passage for any small creative business owner. 

“I had to turn a couple stores down. That was hard because I don’t like turning down opportunities. I usually take every single one when they’re there, but I can’t. So at the moment, the plan is to just keep growing these channels, see what happens with Tik Tok!? I’m leaning into the influencer side of it too. Because obviously the brand alignments help and they’re also really fun. But yeah, overall goal, absolutely, I would love to see these in every single fucking store out there. I would love to do exclusives with stores, maybe based off of actual pants that they have, like, doing a run of Adidas for Adidas, absolutely, that’s where I want to end up. I just have to let myself grow there.”

Whether it be in the near or far future we have no doubt that one day we’ll see A Pair of Plants in any and every store that’s worth shopping in. For now you can find Michelle and her plant pants online. If you haven’t given her a follow yet, just get ready to spend way too long scrolling through her reels and be prepared to walk away with a new obsession for plant pants.

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