Orchid people: Couple enjoys spreading their love of plants

Co-owner of Orchids for the People Jennifer Rishel said her husband Blaine Maynor has always been a plant geek.

"It's really a hobby that has run amok," co-owner Maynor said. "Jennifer said I needed to either stop buying plants or start selling them and I think she thought I'd stop buying them."

Start selling orchids they did. Rishel and Maynor's business, which started in Arcata and has since moved and expanded to several greenhouses in McKinleyville right near their home, has a wide range of customers and even a thriving eBay store.

"I like how we get everyone from neophytes to plant experts," Maynor said. "There are people who want a bouquet that lasts a long time and people who are orchid enthusiasts looking for a very specific type to add to their collection."

Owner of Antich Automotive in Eureka Michael Connerley said he's the kind of person who can kill anything that grows and that having Orchids for the People provide plants through a business leasing program for his customers' enjoyment has been a blessing.

"I love how I don't have to touch them, just enjoy their presence in my shop. They rotate orchids on a regular basis so that I always have fresh blooming flowers and if I ask they will rotate them out at anytime," Connerley said. "I always receive compliments and inquiries about the orchids in my waiting area."

Rishel said she and Maynor have built relationships with a lot of their customers. She said she will soon leave her position as development director for the Sequoia Humane Society this spring to fulfill her dream of working at Orchids for the People full-time.

"One of my favorite parts of my work is helping people be successful in getting their orchids to bloom more than once," Rishel said. "In every case when they come back over the years and tell me about their success with the plants, they're giddy."

Humboldt County is so unique, especially the resilience of the people and how they sustain each other and themselves, Rishel said.

"Orchids for the People has been involved with Humboldt Made since the beginning, before they became a membership-based organization," Rishel said. "I like being involved in an organization with a community of other businesses with people like ourselves. Humboldt Made's work on branding the area helps all of us."

Rishel and Maynor met through mutual friends at Humboldt State University and their anniversaries often involve them traveling to different orchid nurseries. They have two kids -- Quinlan, 11, and 8-year-old Laelia, who's named after an orchid.

While 95 percent of the plants Orchids for the People handles are orchids, the business also sells house, air and tropical plants, plus related products such as pots, potting materials and fertilizers.

For more information on Orchids for the People, visit www.rishel.com.

Jillian Singh can be reached at 441-0509 or Jsingh@times-standard.com