The Store That's Changing How City-Dwellers Buy Plants
Eliza Blank, the 30-year-old founder of The Sill, grew up watching her grandmother garden and believes that every house needs a plant. Here’s how her team is greening the urban jungle.
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Why did you start The Sill?
Owning a houseplant in a city like New York is so important. When it came time for me to move out on my own, one of the things that I really wanted to do was fill my apartment with greenery; immediately I realized how difficult that would be. It wasn’t just the access, it was the missing element of design. You have your choice of 100 shower curtains—why isn’t there that breadth when it comes to buying a potted plant?
Do you sell anything besides plants?
About a year into the start of The Sill we started designing and manufacturing our own line of ceramic planters. All the tabletop items are designed with input from our plant team. The pots are well suited to the plants, they’re the right size, and they incorporate drainage when appropriate.
What’s the most common question you get from beginning gardeners?
There’s definitely a level of anxiety among this generation, and they just don’t know where to start. We begin by educating them about choosing the right plant—for their environment, for their lifestyle, even for their budget.
What advice do you have for someone looking to give a plant as a gift?
Half the people walking in are buying for someone else. A plant has longevity; it’s not like fresh-cut flowers that will kick it a week later. It’s a little bit less romantic, too—you can get a plant for a colleague or for your dad. We always say, "Go with something really easy if you don’t know the person’s ability." What you don’t want is to give a plant to someone who has no idea how to take care of it, and then they kill it and have a bad experience.
Why is having a brick-and-mortar store important to your business?
The product that we sell is very emotional because it’s a living thing, it’s often given as a gift, and it requires an immense amount of education. Giving our customers the opportunity to learn in person is something that we just didn’t want to pass up. It’s easy to come up with cool things to do online, but there’s nothing that replaces that in-person interaction.