Fern: Where Dreams Create Magic

Many of the greatest things in life begin with a dream, and Megan Strasser, owner of Fern, is one of the best type of dreamers.  She’s the type of person who dreams big, works hard, and when her vision comes to life, it’s magic.

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Fern Storefront {6040 Hamilton Avenue, Cincinnati, OH 45224}

That’s the word that comes to mind when I think of Fern: magic.  The moment I pulled open the door, I was met with bursts of green on each side.  Gorgeous natural light flooded through the large, garage-style doors on the front of the building, illuminating plants of every shape, size, and variety.  Handmade pots and other vessels lined the carefully arranged shelves.

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Look at that gorgeous lighting!

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I had the privilege of sitting down with Megan, who is truly one of the nicest people you could ever meet, to learn about her story and her experience with Fern.

Megan comes from a varied background – not necessarily specific to plants.  Before opening Fern, Megan started several other businesses.  Her first venture was a vintage clothing business; with this business, she hosted popup sales and maintained an Etsy store.  For her next endeavor, she took a 1960’s popup camper and converted it into a mobile coffee cart.  She has also dabbled in doing styling on the side for craft books and even did some food styling.

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Megan Strasser {owner}, in her element

In 2010, she left everything in Ohio and moved to Switzerland to be with her now-husband.  She left her coffee cart on her grandparents’ farm, not knowing if she would be back to resume her business or if life held something else for her.  She ended up staying in Switzerland and was married there.  Soon after, she and her husband welcomed a daughter into her new family.

Megan and her family returned to the States, and moved to Michigan where her son was born.  “I spent years not really working, and dreaming up what the next idea was going to be, because I have no shortage of dreams,” Megan says.

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While she was living in Michigan, the building that now houses Fern – which used to be a car wash – became available.  Megan’s parents lived next door, and therefore had a large interest in what business would move into the space.  Initially, Megan’s father rented the space and turned it into an art collective.  When the building went up for sale, Megan’s father was given first dibs on buying the building.

Megan says that she can remember specifically sitting in her living room in Michigan, nursing her son, dreaming of what would turn into Fern – a curated plant shop.  She says with a smile, “If I have an idea, I just do it.”

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I absolutely love this cactus, and am kicking myself for not bringing him home with me!

In May of 2013, Megan, her husband, and their children moved back to Cincinnati.  In September of that same year, Megan started Fern.  She began small by selling succulent gardens, terrariums, and a few handmade ceramics sourced from around the country at the City Flea (a curated urban flea market) in Cincinnati.

In May of 2014, Fern opened in its current space, albeit a smaller portion of the building.  Megan says the shop selection was super-sparse initially – just a few re-purposed shelves, a table from Ikea, and a vintage cart she found at an antique shop.  Also, Megan says that she did not have a lot of plants at first, but focused more on the type of designs that she had been creating for the City Flea. However, customers began to show more interest in the plants, so Megan quickly adapted her business to meet the demand.  Megan also continued focusing on artisan-made ceramics and vessels.

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Since opening, plants have become more and more trendy.  Megan says she is “riding the wave” of the plant trend, most of the time in disbelief at how her dream has taken off.  Fern was also featured in the book “Urban Jungle: Living and Styling with Plants” as a favorite plant shop around the world.

Fern is a family business – which it’s clear that Megan takes great pride in.  Her dad built up the space.  Her children have been in the shop since it’s conception, and still help her shop for plants frequently. Megan and her brother partner on business endeavors, and he actually lives on the other side of the building.

Megan feels the point of her shop is to offer not only carefully cared-for and hand-selected plants, but that each of the ceramic vessels she sells is interesting and beautiful.  Each one is handmade by independent artists.  As you walk around the shop, you can see different placards by each display, explaining about the artist who created the pieces.  For Megan, the vessel is almost more important than the plant itself; she likes to treat each piece as if it is part of an art gallery.  When you see these pieces in your home, she feels you have a different connection to the item because you value the time and personal creativity that went into each piece.  This focus on beautiful, handcrafted pieces of art is one of the things that sets Fern apart from other plant stores and boutiques.

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Fern carries handmade ceramics by many different artists, such as this one by Kari Von Lehman.

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Fern sources its plants from two wholesalers who work with growers in Florida and California.  One of the biggest benefits of buying from a wholesaler is that they generally take the plants through an acclimation process before they are sold; this allows them to adapt more easily to life within a home or office instead of taking them directly from a greenhouse or grow-light environment, giving them a better chance of survival.  Each week, Megan hand selects each plant that comes into her store; she says that this is probably one of her favorite parts of owning Fern and makes her feel like a kid in a candy store.  (Her face completely lights up when she talks about this!)

I asked Megan if she had any helpful tips for plant owners.  She told about a great trick that I had never heard of!  If you have a plant that is crispy and looks like it’s on the way out, try submerging it in water.  Don’t just give it a good drink with a watering can, but actually dunk the whole plastic garden pot – being sure to cover the soil and roots – in water; let it sit for about 15 minutes.  Once that time is up, drain it well. A few may leaves may fall off or need trimmed back, but most of the time, this will revive your plant.  (Megan specified that this shouldn’t be done to succulents.)

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As I wrapped up my time at Fern, I did one more pass around the store and came across a gorgeous Hoya plant that has been on my wish list…and you know what happened next! (Apparently, I can’t visit a store without buying a new plant baby!)

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You can visit Fern at 6040 Hamilton Avenue, Cincinnati, OH 45224.  Their hours of operation are Wednesday through Saturday, 11:00 to 6:00.  If you go check them out, don’t forget to tell them the {house}plant momma sent you!

To learn more about Fern…
Website: https://www.fern-shop.com
Instagram: @fernshopcincinnati
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/fernstudiocincinnati/

– the {house}plant momma

 

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