Creative thinkers, Strategic designers

Founded in 2001, Pen & Petal is a full-service marketing communications agency servicing the green industry. Specializing in horticulture for both the B2B and consumer markets, Pen & Petal provides cutting-edge marketing with the technical know-how to back it up. This distinct combination of creativity and experience is a cornerstone of the business. In addition to its staff, Pen & Petal utilizes outside talent in order to be able to offer its clients all types of marketing-, advertising- and PR-related services.

Our Team

Kerstin Poehlmann


My passion for horticulture and all things green started at a young age, watching my mom grow her own geraniums from cuttings on the windowsill, and learning from my dad, who grafted 4 different varieties onto the apple tree in our back yard and a white lilac variety onto a purple lilac tree. Despite the early interest, I wasn’t planning on pursuing horticulture professionally and made plans to pursue something in biotechnology or a related field…until I delved more deeply into horticulture as a potential college major and realized how intricate and multi-faceted the field really is. That’s when I knew that horticulture was “my thing” and that I would explore its many nuances, from floral and ornamental crops to fruits and vegetables, emerging and alternative crops, hardgoods that enhance and support the growing process, and all the many wheels that make our industry turn.

With a horticulture degree from the University of Applied Sciences in Weihenstephan, Germany, in hand, and with a few work experiences in a variety of companies in Europe under my belt, I came to the United States in 1994 for what was supposed to be a temporary stay. I honed my skills at EuroAmerican Propagators, one of the founding members of the Proven Winners plant brand, near San Diego, California. With Proven Winners in its infancy at the time, I was at the front line of building a brand from the ground up. I also traveled extensively, frequently speaking at industry events and learning more about the true depth of our industry. In 2001 and 2003, I wrote two books on container gardening – The EuroAmerican Container Garden Cookbook and Contain Yourself – 101 Ideas for Fantastic Container Gardens.

The idea of having my own business sprouted in the back of my mind, because I saw the need for an agency that specializes in the green industry. So, in 2001, I started Pen & Petal. I love that Pen & Petal enables me to work with all aspects of the green industry and keeps us at the pulse of what’s new and emerging. I have a wonderful team, and together we complement each other’s talents. The clients we get to work with come from many different industry segments, which keeps our work fascinating and fresh every day. And the best part are the friendships that we’ve developed with clients and industry associates over the years.

I believe in the saying “if you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go together,” and because I want our industry to go far, I enjoy supporting and being involved with industry organizations, including AmericanHort, Garden Communicators International (GardenComm), and the San Diego County Flower & Plant Association (SDCF&PA), where I was recently elected to serve as a member of the board of directors.

My biggest passion of all is my family. I live with my sons in Encinitas, CA, where I find my true inspiration in the ocean, surfing or paddling. In winter, I love to ski and my sons snowboard. Ironically, I don’t have a garden, but a patio where I nurture my plumerias.


Claudia Defibaugh

Graphic Designer

Claudia Defibaugh has studied graphic arts since 1986, obtaining a Bachelor of Arts degree in graphic design in her native Germany and a Master of Art degree in Art emphasizing graphic design from San Diego State University. She is the owner and creative director of Braunwarth Design, which she established in 1997, and is now working for Pen & Petal part time.

Her project experiences include print advertising, including corporate identities, packaging, catalogs and brochures, advertisements, direct mail, showroom graphics, and digital design. Among her previous clients are many companies in the categories of infant and children’s products, high tech, bio tech, financial and law services, and the arts. Defibaugh works from her office in Encinitas, CA.

Joli Hohenstein

Marketing/PR Specialist

Joli Hohenstein is an award-winning marketer, writer and editor. She is a former editor at Green Profit, GrowerTalks and FloraCulture International, business-to-business trade publications serving the commercial greenhouse industry.

Her career also includes such diverse experience as directing creative for a mid-size marketing communications agency; developing marketing strategy for Fortune 500 corporations; founding a successful magazine; retail marketing and buying; and serving as a marketer, editor, writer and speaker for multiple publishing companies.

Hohenstein graduated with an agricultural communications degree from the University of Illinois. Her work has received a number of honors, including ACE/B2B, Davey, Decagon, Marcom Creative, Service Industry Advertising Association and Webby Awards.


Olivia Hernandez

Web Designer

Olivia Hernandez is a website designer and developer with 20+ years experience. Her background as a graphic designer combined with her knowledge of all things code has enabled her to build websites with modern frontend design and high performance backend development. Olivia also focuses on the benefits of social media, SEO, and website analytic data review for each website. With her tracking she can offer guidance on future digital campaigns.

As a graphic designer, Olivia’s skills earned her a PIASC Award and she continues to create marketing materials for web and print campaigns. She works with multiple industries including sports, bio-tech, law enforcement, award shows, wine, real estate, interior design, and more.

Happy Clients

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