Eliza Blank is the Founder & CEO at The Sill, a digitally native direct-to-consumer houseplant brand on a mission to modernize the garden center experience. Find out how she empowers “plant parents” and why water is her pet peeve.
WHAT WAS YOUR INSPIRATION FOR STARTING YOUR COMPANY?
It was my very first year out of school that I moved into my own studio apartment. Calling it small would be generous. It was on the sixth floor of a walkup and I had windows facing a brick wall (sigh).
It was during these early years on my own that I struck up a relationship with plants. My mother is an avid gardener and tends to dozens of houseplants back home, many of which are older than me!
I knew houseplants would make my apartment feel more like home but the experience of finding the right plants, getting them back to my sixth-floor walkup, and taking care of them was much more challenging than I expected.
Yet, I was motivated to uncover a magical green thumb like my mother. I believed that the experience of discovering and taking care of plants should be as wonderful as the plants themselves. My lightbulb moment!
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE WOMEN WHO ARE WANTING TO START THEIR OWN COMPANY?
It won’t be easy, but it can be great.
HOW DO YOU STAY BALANCED WHEN JUGGLING BOTH PERSONAL AND PROFESSIONAL JOBS?
Ha! I cannot pretend to have wisdom to share on this topic. Everyone is so different that whatever works for me probably won’t work for the next person. Not to mention I’m still so new at trying to balance both, whatever that really means. All I can say is having both is amazing. I love The Sill and becoming a Mom didn’t detract a single ounce of energy I had for my business. All of a sudden I just had twice as much to love.
WHAT IS YOUR MOTTO?
Do one thing every day that scares you.
WHAT WAS THE MOST IMPORTANT THING YOU LEARNED IN HIGH SCHOOL?
I had a wonderful internship in high school with a strong, independent woman in my hometown who ran her own graphic design studio. The first thing she taught me was how to properly shake someone’s hand. To this day, I continue to believe it was one of the most important things I’ve learned.
WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST PET PEEVE?
Staying hydrated. I know it is so important but I am really bad at it and I find it to be a burden.
WHAT DO YOU WEAR THAT MAKES YOU FEEL STRONG?
A ponytail. I feel like I can get anything done when I tie my hair back.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE SOMEONE WITH A BROKEN HEART?
I would have to turn to a good cliché: time heals all wounds.
WHAT IS ON YOUR NIGHTSTAND?
A book, a glass of water, and a baby monitor that I can’t seem to give up even though my daughter is 18 months old and I can hear her through the wall.
WHAT GIVES YOU GOOSEBUMPS?
A really good commercial.
WHAT IS YOUR BAD DAY BACKUP PLAN?
Early to bed.
HOW DO YOU DEFINE SUCCESS?
Living by your values.
BEST ADVICE YOU HAVE EVER RECEIVED?
Don’t quit. It implies you’ve already started (which most of us have in some way… even if our ideas are still just daydreams), but the truth is simple — if you don’t quit, you’ll succeed.
WHAT MAKES YOU FORGET TO EAT?
A very busy work day can definitely lead to a missed lunch here and there – but I would never forget to eat otherwise. I love breakfast and dinner but lunch I can do without.
WHAT DID YOUR 8-YEAR-OLD SELF LOVE DOING?
I loved art classes at this age and throughout my childhood.
WHAT 3 THINGS WOULD YOU GRAB IN A FIRE?
My family and probably the same three things I always whisper to myself before I leave the house – “phone, keys, wallet”.
Right now it’s “Mama” because it’s one of the few words my daughter has — and yet she manages to create so much meaning with it depending on the context. Also because when she says it with her tiny voice it melts my heart.
FAVORITE WORK OF ART?
La Gerbe, one of Henri Matisse’s latest works (1953). My parents had a Henri Matisse print in my childhood kitchen. Later, La Gerbe inspired the initial visual identity for The Sill. And in subtle ways, Matisse continues to inspire our visual identity today, too.
I read a lot of fiction and I love a good story – unfortunately, I tend to forget the plot of each book as soon as I’m finished reading.
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