Brenda Goff got her first taste of the garden industry while working at a local nursery for four years. While she enjoyed assisting amateur green thumbs select the perfect flora for their homes and gardens, she always longed to work for herself. In 2002, Goff opened Red Onion on a nine-acre property nestled off Perkins Road, just south of the Pecue Lane intersection, that feels far from bustling Baton Rouge. Her first challenge was putting an accurate value on her designs and arrangements. Without an industry guide for setting such prices, she turned to mentors. “In the beginning, you think you should be glad for having a customer. Over the years, you’re not going to make it as a businessperson if you don’t understand what you have to offer and put a figure on it.”
Red Onion was initially a small nursery stocked with flags, watering cans and other gardening accessories commonly found at big box retailers. She credits her customers for pushing her to carry more designer-style gardening items and molding Red Onion into the boutique home and garden retailer it is today. “I stopped buying all the things you could get anywhere else and started carving out a niche with things that are more unique and substantial. If you listen to your customers, it will mold your business into something you may not have planned.” With a critical eye for design, Goff encourages her clients to consider lighting and other often-overlooked elements when making purchases.
Before she ever started working in gardening, Goff worked at a family-owned restaurant and she compares the fulfillment she gets from her work today to those early working experiences. “The creative parts of you, they cross over. I can still see the reward of a perfect dish by creating florals.” In early March, Goff opened a second location at Ann Connelly’s Studio Park on Lobdell Avenue. The new 1,800-square-foot shop will cater to Goff’s customers who don’t live near the Perkins Road store. The expansion is driven by customer demand, Goff says, adding the second store will carry many of the same items as her flagship location. Moving forward, Goff wants to further strengthen her company’s brand as she establishes the second location. “People want you to take it a step forward and impress them with something they’ve never seen yet.”