Michael Stout: Petal Pusher
The local behind Anthropologie’s seed bombs plants roots on the east side.
Love Indy? Michael Stout wants you to say it with flowers. After making his mark on Cincinnati’s soil, the Greenwood native has returned with his business, VisuaLingual, which makes adorably bagged seed bombs for guerilla gardening, or the practice of planting without permission. The compact balls of soil and seeds can be launched into neglected lots to create pop-up plots.
As a teen, Stout used to hang out downtown. “I painted a lot of graffiti and was really involved in thinking about the city as a place where creativity happens,” he says. “There’s this dialogue between places and the people who live in them.”
Eventually he put down the spray can in search of a different way to make his mark on the urban landscape. In 2009, just after earning his master’s in community planning at the University of Cincinnati, Stout and his former partner, Maya Drozdz, started making seed bombs out of their home. The duo found such rapid success that they were able to quit their day jobs in 2012 and create 15 varieties. With the help of two production assistants, Stout hand-rolled more than 75,000 bombs last year in his Brookside studio for more than 150 retailers nationwide, including Anthropologie. Talk about a growing business.
Buy It: Bag of five seed bombs, $7 at VisuaLingual.com.
(1) The all-natural bombs are made from a combination of clay, worm castings, and seeds, which Stout buys in bulk.
(2) Water finishes the recipe, and Stout and two assistants mix the soil by hand so they don’t damage the seeds.
(3) “It comes up a lot—can we eat these?” Stout says. He makes an edible variety with calendula, marigold, and nasturtium.
(4) Stout designs and screenprints the muslin bags and customizes pouches for weddings and corporate events.
(5) Charming packaging has helped VisuaLingual break into national stores and earn attention from Vogue and House Beautiful.