Eliza Blank grew up around greenery, but it wasn’t until she moved to New York – a town notorious for lacking foliage – that she realized she couldn’t live without it. So, in 2012, she launched The Sill – a plant design, delivery and maintenance e-commerce business.
Now with a Manhattan storefront, Eliza is New York’s go-to flora therapist, connecting city folk with the right plant life for their home, office and sense of well-being. Learn how The Sill is revolutionizing indoor living and how Eliza’s made her own green spaces below.
Why are plants such an important source of life to incorporate into our living spaces?
They clean the air – filtering out toxins like formaldehyde – and impact our moods, productivity and creativity. All of this is important considering we live in a toxic environment. Also, having plants around reduces stress and boosts your mood. It’s like when you look at cute animal pictures – plants have the same effect on mood and feelings. The most simple way to put it: Plants make people happy.
Why is it so hard to nurture ourselves with nature, especially in New York?
In New York it wasn’t a category that was simple for someone in a small and crowded urban space. You don’t find many places dedicated to plants. You don’t have the necessary conversations addressing what plants are right for your place and your lifestyle. Also, who wants to lug a big houseplant up six flights to a 200 square foot space? Houseplants require some careful thinking and planning.
Isn’t it crazy to think that a city so full of choices offers so few in this category?
The amount of choice we have on a day-to-day basis in any other category is crazy, but it also confirmed there was a need. That I wasn’t alone in wanting a one-stop shop.
How else are people in New York seeking ways to feel grounded?
The Sill isn’t just for people living in the city. It’s about our generation and future generations being so disconnected from nature. We don’t know where our food comes from. We’re not a hippie company, but we recognize the need to bridge the gap between plants and people. We help people understand plants and what they need from a general standpoint.
What would you say to people who are hesitant to care for plants?
They’re a gateway into adulthood. They’re not a baby or a pet but something you have to take care of. This is something you own that you get to see grow naturally right in front of you. You see people name their plants all the time. Some have emotional connections to them because, well, they’re alive.
What kind of spaces do you typically green up?
We do a lot of offices – more offices than apartment deliveries. It makes sense because many people spend more time in the office than in the home. We did the Buzzfeed office, and when we put them in, the employees applauded. It was touching. You don’t have to overlook plants like you do when you’re at your doctor’s office. We try to make them an intrinsic part of the environment.
How do you help beginners care for plants?
We ask them what kind of environment they live in, how much sunlight they get, what direction the windows face to determine how much light there is. We ask about lifestyle: Do you travel a lot? Do you want something you water once a month, or, is it better you water every day so you don’t forget? We determine what is best. What’s right for the plant and then right for the design of your space and your aesthetic. People come in because they want an accent to their Bedding, a display for their dining room table or a bright addition to their bookshelf. We talk it all through.
What are some good starter house plants?
Popular for people in cities are easy care plants like the philodendron, the ZZ plant and the snake plant. These are really tolerant plants that you can mistreat and that you feel good about keeping alive. Succulents are really trendy. They are fantastic because they are desert plants so you don’t have to water them much. They’re better in California though than here in New York where we don’t have the same sunlight.
What kind of plants are in your home, on your sill?
I have succulents because I’m blessed to have a southwest corner so I get a lot of light in my home. I have a few cacti. I have a fern in the bathroom which makes my home feel tropical and because it has moisture. I have ZZ, philodendron, snake plants, a ripple peperomia, a monstera deliciosa, a fluted jade and a baby rubber plant.
You’re planning expansion to Los Angeles in addition to New York City. What are some of the differences in plant trends between the two cities?
We are so thrilled to bring The Sill to LA. For starters, the sunny days and warm weather certainly allow for a greater diversity of plants – both indoors and out. In LA, you see agave on the side of the road and bird’s of paradise in bloom. Also, a lot of the tropical plants come from Hawaii instead of Florida – rhapis pand kentia palms are some of our favorites and fantastic for light-filled LA interiors. Swoon!