If you ever stepped into Plant & Curio’s original Somerset location, you’d know that it was basically a revolving door – never fitting more than ten people comfortably at once. That’s why, in the spring of 2019, owners Leslie MacDonald and Genevieve Brisson relocated their beloved plant store to a new build on Preston.
The decision to move was a difficult and even frightening one, given their Centretown roots, but one step inside the new store and you’ll feel the true experience they had been aiming for. People are still coming in and bumping into neighbours but now, instead of hurrying off, they are actually able to stay, chat, and take in the welcoming vibe. “That’s what plants should be doing to you. You shouldn’t feel rushed. In the old place, people felt they were in the way. Now you can go over to Bridgehead and just come by and feel at ease” says Brisson.
We sat down (literally, they have a seating area now!) with the duo to talk about Plant & Curio and life in the new location.
This interview has been edited for clarity and length.
You started in 2017 and your business continues to grow. How do you deal with all the changes?
Gen: My full-time job in e-commerce requires me to work in teams, and that helped come in to Plant & Curio ready to share my ideas and work together in a structured way. When you start something new, you have a very specific vision for it, but I had to learn that you can’t always take control over everything because you just won’t have time for it all. At first it’s hard to let go because it’s so close to your heart, but when you trust the partnership you can better manage your time.
Leslie: Gen is so organized, but that’s not me! I kind of thrive in chaos. The busier I am, the more I can handle. I get energy from all the things I have to do, so I keep adding more and more things to keep going; when I have less, I get lazy. I found out I was pregnant three days after we signed the lease for the [old] shop. And one thing about having a baby is that you cannot lie around. You have to get up and get going no matter what.
While Gen has her other job, this is my sole source of income and, as a new mother planning for the future, I feel like I just have to make this work. I used to work at a store in the Glebe where the owners lived upstairs and, in their basement, you’d find their kids’ drawings all over the walls. I really liked the idea of your children being part of the process in creating and running your business and, though it may not be for everyone, I know it’s completely doable.
What don’t people know about Plant & Curio?
Gen: I’m a bit of an introvert and, when we started, I thought my relationship with clients would be only transactional. What really shocked me was how warm people can be, and how ready they are to include you in their lives. We’ve made friends here and we’re always learning more from our community, so we plan to share more by hosting workshops where customers can learn new things about their plants, like how to build terrariums, build hangers, or repot their houseplants.
Rather than order new [plastic pots] we started a DIY planting zone for people to take home or bring in recycled ones.
Leslie: One thing that’s always bothered me is how all of the plants being sold come in plastic pots but, at the same time, people also come in to ask us where to buy plastic pots. So rather than order new ones, we started a DIY planting zone for people to take home or bring in recycled plastic pots. Sometimes you have a 4” pot, but need a 6” pot, so why not come in to our trading post instead of buying new?
Another important part of our store is the community of makers. We carry a lot of locally made plant pieces, handmade items, and almost every little thing you’ll find in our shop is made by local artists and makers such as Barbara Ochman, Nina Marchewka, Natalie Eedson, Alison Welsh, Laura Brouillette, Christine Baird, Sarah Marsh, Kristina Corre, and Zoe’s Corner. Locally made goods started as a main focus for us and now it’s part of who we are.
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Sometimes 🌱 outgrow their pots and need a bigger home. That was the case for @plantandcurio who left their beloved Centretown shop to move to a new build on Preston earlier this year. . The result? An adorable 🏠 that hosts a permanent DIY planting zone for people to take home or bring in recycled pots; a space that comfortably and proudly showcases the work of local #ottarts makers like @barbochman and @nightwoodstudio and, perhaps most importantly, a community hub where neighbours can come, stay, and chat while they take in the welcoming vibe. . "That's what 🌿🌵🌴 should be doing to you. You shouldn’t feel rushed. In the old place, people felt they were in the way. Now you can go over to Bridgehead and just come by and feel at ease" says co-owner Genevieve Brisson. . We sat down (literally, they have a seating area now!) with both Gen and Leslie to talk about Plant & Curio and life in the new location. Read about it (link in bio) on the blog! . 📸 @chowmein.champagne | #APT613
Do you have any favourite plants right now?
Gen: At the moment, I’m totally into my monstera. It’s been growing since February, and popping three leaves every month, so I had to repot it recently. I find that our “favourite plants” are often related to how well they’re doing. Right now, this one is growing and I love it so much!
Leslie: I would probably name half the plants in here! Honestly, because I’m always in the shop, my favourite plants at home are the ones that don’t give me any grief like the philodendron – it’s your classic houseplant. When I’m just at home eating ice cream, I look up at my shelf of philodendrons doing amazing without needing constant maintenance, and it gives me such a feeling of peace.
Plant & Curio is located at 173 Preston St. and is open 10am—6pm Mondays through Wednesday, 11am—7pm Thursdays and Fridays, 10am—5pm Saturdays, and 11am—5pm Sundays. Note that, at the time of publication, the store’s front patio is under construction and the building has committed to building a wheelchair accessible ramp.