Name: Megan George / Age: 26 / Profession: Maker, Author & Small Business Owner of the ZEN Succulent / Name of Shop: ZEN Succulent / Years Open: Online Shop opened in 2012; Flagship brick & mortar opened in May 2016 / City, State: Durham, North Carolina
Tell us a little bit about yourself and how The Zen Succulent Shop began! Created in 2012 and owned by mother and daughter team, Margaret & Megan, passionate about indoor greenery, The ZEN Succulent started as an Etsy store to sell our handmade succulent and air plant terrariums locally in our garage at night and within a short 6 months became the “go-to" online terrarium shop on the platform.
After over 10,000 terrariums sold online and at indie craft fairs all over North America, we have opened a brand new plant & gift shop in downtown Durham North Carolina on historic Parrish Street. Opened in early May, the storefront beautifully blends our living terrarium landscapes and lush North Carolina grown greenery with curated goods and gifts from regional artisans.
How would you describe the shop to someone who’s never been there? What can a shopper expect to find? Gleaming on our single storefront window are the words ‘Plants bring life, joy, and inspiration’ which is a theme the 400 –square-foot plant oasis. Our shop, the ZEN Succulent, is a neighborhood plant studio storefront full of unique exotic & everyday greenery and handcrafted gifts from emerging makers – featuring our house made modern terrariums, air plant stands, plant craft workshops and DIY terrarium bar.
Our shoppers come for the greenery and leave not only with a beautiful addition to their space but the knowledge & confidence to care for it for many years to come. It never gets old for a customer to come into the shop saying they have “a black thumb" and “kill everything” only to purchase a plant and come back again telling us how well their plant is doing! You can’t beat that joy.
In addition to our variety of succulents & air plants and indoor plant items available within the storefront, shoppers can find a curated selection made of gifts from emerging makers and small companies all over North America which include wheel thrown ceramics, letter press cards & stationery, pick-me-up earrings & enamel pins, linen tea towels & hand carved kitchen tools, natural apothecary goods, scented candles and more.
Many of our over 25 makers & small companies represented within the storefront we have met personally while traveling to indie craft fairs and maker markets over the years; it’s exciting to see all of our businesses grow and works become more defined – we’re excited to showcase that within our space.
How did you think of the name of your shop? Is there meaning behind it? The name of our small business and now studio storefront, The ZEN Succulent, was created when first launching our Etsy account in 2012. When signing up for the ecommerce site, the last step before submitting yours shop profile was picking your shop's name. We knew we were selling “succulent” terrariums, and that plants can create a since of peace or “Zen”. Thus, within a matter of minutes and a simply mouse click, our name "The ZEN Succulent", was born.
What is your favorite part about owning a shop? What is the hardest part? Our favorite part about owning a shop hands-down is having a space to not only meet our customers “face to face “(since previously we were exclusively online or markets) but also having a dedicated spot outside of our homes to actually make our living creations.
Our storefront also doubles as Megan’s working studio where she daily runs the shops plant designs services, as well as creates and ships nearly 80 of her in-house terrariums weekly. This dedicated time experimenting with different ideas helps develop new collaborations and designs which moves their business forward, and is a big credit to their success.
The hardest part has to be dedicating time to both making our products in tandem with running the retail location. When we originally toyed around with having a retail space, it was thought that the space would run half and half as a studio & storefront. Soon after opening, it became clear that the day in and day out needs of a storefront took up far more time than running a studio in the same location and needed more attention because of it. Luckily we hired a part-time shopkeeper who managed the details of the store which freed up the necessary time needed to run both smoothly (although still a work in progress!).
What are your dreams for the shop? Having the retail location where plant lovers and beginners alike visit has been such a joy thus far. Our dream of opening this green space is still fresh and we are enjoying this moment in our small business’ growth. We have yet to think of another dream for the shop, but when we know, we will let The School of Styling know!
Where do you find inspiration? Other entrepreneurs, nature, art? Our living landscape creations are a modern take on traditional terrariums inspired by our natural surroundings, love for urban planting and delight in color. We play with the concepts of nature's classical elements (air, earth, water) though our individual terrariums use of plants, succulents and more plants that each inhabit its respective landscapes. This is also echoed in our studio storefronts white shelfs placed with one-of-a-kind plant gifts, artwork and exotic plants resting on light wood accents.
What advice can you give to other entrepreneurs? What do you wish someone had told you before you started? dvice I would give to other entrepreneurs is to never limit yourself and to be true to your brand and your brand's identity. There is so much out there with social media that even the best of us and get lost in what others are doing. By being thoughtful in your brand and focused on what makes your unique, your customers will see that and champion you onto higher levels of growth and success. Trust us, we know from experience.
Photography Credit: Rachel Linder of Bluebarn Photography
contact: firstname.lastname@example.org / 919.624.7139