Plants are in. Succulents, cacti and leafy house plants are taking over homes across the nation, sprouting from “just another thing to water” to serious, must-have décor for stylish homeowners. This is good news for Baltimore business owner Liz Vayda, who was just ahead of the trend when she took her love for all things green and cultivated her plant-based business, B. Willow.
After graduating from Earlham College with a bachelor’s degree in psychology, Vayda looked outward, earning a master’s degree in environmental science at Johns Hopkins University.
“I learned a lot about the psychological benefits of plants while at college. Just learning about the profound benefits of focusing our time in nature versus something man-made was captivating,” she says. “I started racking my brain trying to think of ways I could help the world environmentally and the one thought that I couldn’t shake is that we can’t expect people to care about the planet if we don’t feel connected to it.”
Enter B. Willow, which started selling planters and terrariums in 2014 before opening a brick-and-mortar store in Remington in March 2017. There, colorful plants and greenery deck the shelves and floors. Customers can buy succulents, air plants, cacti, leafy plants, trees and more, as well as stylish pots and holders. A big draw, too, is the build-your-own service, with options for terrariums, wall hangings and more.
“We do various events and workshops in the shop. Offsite, sometimes companies will have us come in and do a team-building exercise with their employees. We’ve done private parties, weddings and baby showers,” says Vayda.
The store has really blown up in the past year, with B. Willow installations popping up in businesses across Baltimore. Just this summer, Vayda and her team have helmed the tropical transformations of the Hotel Revival’s Garden Room, the Island Room at Pen & Quill and the Mai Bar at R. House.
A sweet gig, certainly, but not one without its challenges.
For each assignment, she and her team will go to the space and evaluate all of the possible plant spots. Sustainability and longevity of the décor plants play a large role in the installations, with Vayda carefully noting the light availability.
“I want to try and make my work as sustainable as possible,” she says. “I never want to fill a space with plants that will just die the next day because profound resources go into growing plants that I do not want to waste.”
As her business continues to flourish, she hopes its environmental consciousness can grow, too.
“I would love if one day B. Willow was able to put money towards local greening productions around the city,” she says. “For me, that would really fulfill what I have always wanted to do with my career. It’s in my heart.”