Eliza Blank, CEO The Sill

Photo provided by The Sill, photographer: Masha Maltsava

How do millennials garden? A Business Insider article I came across stated that more millennials are living in smaller, urban spaces for longer, which is driving the desire to raise plants.

That article I found featured Eliza Blank, a woman who saw a unique opportunity to bridge the gap between people and plants. She founded The Sill, a modern plant destination that started exclusively online but has since raised a total of $7.5M in funding and opened three retail locations in the U.S.

The Sill offers an extensive range of plants that cover all lifestyle requirements: pet-friendly, good for beginners, light dependency and so on. Customers can also join the Plant Parent Club for $39/year, granting access to unlimited online workshops, free standard shipping, 10% off all online orders, and much more.

Today, I’ve sat down with Eliza to discuss how she has successfully navigated the world of ecommerce to create a unique brand that is truly the first of its kind.

CON: Hi Eliza, I appreciate you taking the time to speak with me! I want to start by asking about The Sill. Can you describe the business model and what your inspiration was?

EB: The Sill is a first of its kind plant brand. We are on a mission to connect people to plants through content and community because we believe Plants Make People Happy. We ship potted plants nationally and are opening brick-and-mortar shops where you can shop an extended line of products, participate in workshops, or simply come by to ask our shop keepers questions. The Sill was born out of my own personal struggles trying to shop for plants and keep them alive! I wanted there to be a mission-driven company that cared enough to teach me how to cultivate a green thumb. There wasn’t one – and so I started The Sill. 

CON: I heard The Sill recently opened its third retail location on the West Coast. As an omnichannel retailer, can you describe what challenges you faced when starting this new venture?

EB: Growing a business is challenging. There has never been a moment in the company’s lifetime where we weren’t facing some set of new challenges. That’s the exciting part! That being said, exceeding customer expectations continues to be our number one priority and one of the most difficult challenges we face today given how high those expectations have become. Customers today (myself included!) often expect fast and free shipping, near instant response time, and an experience that is always Instagram-worthy. That’s a tall order!  We believe we strike the right balance for our company and our customers but it’s challenging as we scale.

CON: I want to touch on the Company’s use of social media. On Instagram, The Sill (@thesill) has a very large presence with over 440k followers and a significant amount of engagement on each post. How has this tool impacted your business?

EB: We LOVE Instagram. It’s such a fantastic channel for us to use to evangelize plants. A lot of our customers first discover us on Instagram. It’s just such a nice platform to connect with our broader community and test new ideas and get fast feedback.

CON: I know you’ve recently returned from maternity leave—congratulations! As the Company has continued to grow significantly over the past few months, I’m curious to know what this transition has been like for you?

EB: Thank you! I feel incredibly lucky to now have two super exciting things in my life: my daughter and this business. Who needs sleep!? In all seriousness, it’s a real transition for me to not have the same bandwidth as before, but I have an amazing and supportive team (both in the office and at home) to help make this all possible. I have immense gratitude to be both a mom and CEO.

CON: Lastly, I want to ask what advice you’d give to women who are looking to start a new business venture?

EB: DO IT! It’s very difficult for me not to speak in clichés here – so I’ll borrow from my husband’s favorite sports analogy “you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”

To learn more, check out The Sill at: www.thesill.com

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