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The Sill's Eliza Blank Is Branching Into New Territory

The plant mom and female founder shares her greatest mentor, challenges, and why The Sill is expanding.
March 21, 2024
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Photo by The Sill and Food52

We're celebrating remarkable women in the worlds of food and design throughout Women Are Amazing Month (aka Women's History Month, Food52-style). Is there a woman we should be profiling? Let us know.

Eliza Blank was once a very bad plant parent—a surprising origin story for the founder of the plant business, . Her quest to make her New York City apartment as plant-filled as her mother’s New England home was initially a bust; she couldn’t keep her Home Depot purchases alive. But out of her frustration came her breakthrough idea to take a dated business model—mail-order plants—and update it for monstera-loving city dwellers who could order houseplants and learn how to take care of them online. Today, The Sill includes four locations that support its nationwide delivery business, and is taking a big leap forward this spring as it begins offering outdoor plants and gardening products alongside its houseplant collection. Below, I asked Eliza—now a bonafide plant queen and mom to two girls—about the joys and challenges of growing her business.

When did you realize this is what you wanted to do?

Eliza Blank: I recognized I wanted to build The Sill as soon as I became aware of the transformative effect that plants had on my own life and the lives of those around me. Witnessing the joy and sense of calm that indoor plants brought to people inspired me to share that experience with as many others as possible.

What is your biggest challenge, now that The Sill is well established?

Running a business is hard—whether it's brand new or like us, you're 12 years in. Thankfully, we weathered quite a few storms in our past which has made both the team and the brand quite resilient. I think the biggest challenge always presents the biggest opportunities and so while I might answer this by saying it's around remaining relevant to our audience, I also think we're excited about what this allows us to do next (see below!)

What part of your work are you most proud of?

I am most proud of the community we've built around The Sill and the positive impact we've had on people's lives. Seeing our customers connect with nature and find fulfillment in caring for their plants brings me immense satisfaction and motivates me to continue growing our brand.

Have you ever mentored other female founders, and what is your advice to them?

Yes, I love connecting with and supporting other female founders. I will always go out of my way to make time for someone I believe I can help. Not surprising, no two are alike, so I try not to offer the same advice. I like to listen and learn about what their objectives are and offer my experience as a share to take or leave. I've always operated from a place of honesty and transparency and I think that goes a long way.

Did you have any female mentors who gave you valuable advice?

Early on in the business, one of my favorite advisors and biggest supporters was Sarah LaFleur, founder and CEO of women's wear brand . Sarah was the first person to really drive home “when there's a will, there’s a way,” and was always my first phone call if I ever felt stuck on a big problem.

Who is the most inspiring woman in your industry?

Right now, I’m drawing my inspiration from Jennifer Jewell, a notable figure in the world of gardening and horticulture. She is the creator and host of the popular public radio program and podcast called “.” This show explores the many ways gardening and plants enrich our lives and connect us to the natural world.

Why did you decide to move from selling just indoor plants to outdoor ones too?

While The Sill has grown over the years, so too have our customers! They've grown their houseplant collections and honed their skills as plant parents. And many have moved into homes with porches, patios, stoops, and yards. The Sill was founded on the simple belief that plants make us happier, healthier humans, and that simply doesn’t stop at our window sills.

Are there any other businesses in your future?

The Sill has been my exclusive focus going on 12 years—with the exception of my family of course (I added a hyphen "-Mom" to my title five years ago, and again two years ago). Sometimes it's hard to imagine investing your time in anything else when you continue to believe so deeply in your mission, but I also like to believe I have a second chapter in me (who wouldn't). I guess we'll all just have to wait and see!

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Written by: Nicole Davis

Contributing Editor, Food52


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