Nobody understands the therapeutic value of greenery quite like the folks at NYC-based plant purveyor, The Sill. It’s no coincidence that this jungle oasis exists in the biggest concrete jungle of them all. The tiny store exists seemingly outside of the hustle and bustle as a refreshing reminder of the power of nature to slow us down and make us feel whole again. In a perfect world, we would all have easy access to nature but as we know, this is rarely true for urban city-dwellers living in ever-shrinking (and let’s face it—sometimes depressing) apartments. Enter The Sill’s main demographic: the modern plant lover. Owning and caring for plants correctly in a busy schedule can seem like a daunting a task, but founder Eliza Blank assures that there is no such thing as a “green thumb.” Put quite simply, plants take practice. She saw a hugely missed opportunity for plants to be easily understood, accessible, and most importantly: fun!

“Our mission is to make the experience of discovering the perfect potted plants
as wonderful as the plants themselves. The Sill is the source that bridges the gap
between plants and people, offering products and services that fit with your
personal style, your lifestyle, and your budget.”

The Sill was originally founded in 2012 with a mission to bring a happy plant to every sill. The Sill originally existed in the virtual realm, making plants easy to understand and delivering them right to your doorstep, a revolutionary idea. It sets itself deliberately apart from traditional nurseries and garden centers in their strong focus on approachability and education. The Sill regularly holds plant-care seminars, utilizes easy-to-follow care cards, and publishes videos and FAQs on social media that attempt to demystify the art of plant parenting. Black thumbs, rejoice! Going even further, every plant purchased at The Sill guarantees access to their plant experts throughout its life (aptly named the “houseplant hotline”). Their manifesto is that plants equate to happiness, hence their straightforward motto, “Plants Make People Happy!”

We had a chance to visit the shop’s manager, Sarina Perez, at their newest location on the Upper West Side to chat about their unique business model and what the future holds. Read on below!

west elm local — the sill

west elm local — the sill

west elm local — the sill

Please tell us a little about yourself and The Sill.

Hello! I’m Sarina Perez, raised in a town just outside of San Antonio. I moved here about 8 years ago to study photography at NYU and have been working for The Sill in one capacity or another for about three and half years. The Sill started as an e-comm business about six years ago when our founder, Eliza Blank, noticed how unncessarily arduous it was to get some green into your life! The first brick and mortar location opened in late 2014. I joined the team shortly after that as their first shopkeeper, when there were just five other full time employees. Since then, the company has blossomed into a truly booming online business with over 30 employees, shipping across the country—in addition to helping our local audience through two lovely NYC storefronts.

west elm local — the sill

west elm local — the sill

west elm local — the sill

west elm local — the sill

west elm local — the sill

The Sill believes everyone deserves an indoor plant oasis, or “a plant on every sill”— no green thumb needed! However, for a new plant parent, it can be overwhelming. How do you help make this process approachable for urban city-dwellers?

People always come into the shops saying “I have so many questions!”, but really, choosing a plant essentially boils down to two questions: how much light is there in the spot you want to place a plant, and how often are you willing to water it? Pretty much everything else is based on aesthetic and personal preference! If you are honest when thinking about those questions, the rest falls into place. People forget that plants are indeed very much living beings—they all come from different places around the globe and need certain things to be happy. A “green thumb” is just mimicking the conditions of those places as best you can indoors. The Sill strives to inform every customer about the specific plant they are taking home, eliminating the guessing game altogether. If you follow our care cards, it’s guaranteed success. And once you have a handful of plants that you feel comfortable with, you will definitely get addicted! I always joke that a plant collection quickly goes from 1 to 5 to 30.

Tell us about your retail space.

Our shops are The Sill’s online presence come to life! Therefore, we strive to provide an experience that mimics our website product offerings and company values—locally-made planters and apartment friendly houseplants made readily accessible and packaged with all the necessary information to keep them thriving in your home. Our shop staff are all genuine plant enthusiasts and incredibly patient, ready to answer plenty of questions and make recommendations based on the needs of our customer. The shops also sell larger floor plants for those looking for a statement piece (currently not available on-site) and provide potting services for those who are hesitant to do it home out of inexperience or aversion to the mess. We also fulfill same day deliveries for our NYC residents.

west elm local — the sill

west elm local — the sill

west elm local — the sill

west elm local — the sill

west elm local — the sill

west elm local — the sill

What do you love most about your community in NYC?

A lot of people think of us for gifting or decking out a retail or office space, which is awesome, but can be a one-and-done situation. My favorite customer interactions are with repeat purchasers who have grown their collection with us over time and love talking about new growth or interesting plants they saw images of and are now hunting for. I’ve had a few people bring their friends and parents in—seeing someone catch the “plant bug” is always super satisfying to witness, but the warm fuzzies are magnified when you see them pass that along to someone else.

west elm local — the sill

west elm local — the sill

west elm local — the sill

west elm local — the sill

west elm local — the sill

What is your favorite plant on your sill right now?

Though I’m a bit short on light in my apartment, I’ve still managed to amass over 65 houseplants (a small number compared to some others on our staff!). Currently I’ve been loving the Calathea family because of their ability to tolerate some shade while still having such intricate leaf patterns and personalities – some move their leaves as the light changes from night to day. Favorite babies in particular are my Calathea orbifolia and Calathea warscewiczii. Look them up! They’re so gorgeous it makes me tear up sometimes. They’re a bit “trickier” to keep since they thrive in more humid environments and love a good misting, but I just try to keep my water bottle full and ready nearby. The prettiest plants are always worth the effort to me.

west elm local — the sill

Photography by Lindsey Swedick.

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