Growing a Business 

Prissylily Co. Plants Roots in Warrenton

Story and Photos by Lindsay Hogeboom

Sunglasses and house plants? For some, this combination may not seem obvious, but for Priscilla Aviles it makes perfect sense. Aviles’s company, Prissylily Co., which offers these two distinct products, recently opened its doors in the heart of Old Town Warrenton. The homepage of the company website may sum the business up best: “House Plants and Sunglasses. The Perfect Pair. Think Positive. Think Plants.”

“Years ago, I wanted to do e-commerce,” says Aviles. “I started first with accessories…and then gradually started incorporating clothes. But it was more something to do on the side – it wasn’t really something I was passionate about.” Aviles eventually niched her company down to selling exclusively sunglasses, and that’s around the time she found her love for house plants. “A few years ago, I was redecorating my house. And I have always, my whole life, thought that I had a black thumb, [but] I really didn’t want to get fake plants….So I said, ‘Okay, I’m gonna try it.’” Aviles purchased two fiddle-leaf figs – one for each corner of her dining room – and as they grew, so did her love of plants. “I started buying a ton of plants, and that just progressed. Once I learned how to propagate and make more plants I kind of went nuts.” Aviles began sending out her propagated plants to friends and family until they too had homes full of greenery. “After about five plants, everyone was like, ‘Stop! We don’t want any more plants!’” That’s when Aviles’ friends and family suggested selling her plants via her online store.

Right off the bat, Aviles found that house plants were a hit. “When I first listed them it was in July of 2018. I listed about five different plants…and when I woke up the next morning, all of them had sold,” she says. “Then from there it just grew into this crazy passion and it made me really happy, so I just kept going.”

 Planting Roots in Warrenton

After a few years of successful online sales, Aviles began to see a pattern emerging in customer requests. “As I got into the collector side [of plants], I noticed a lot of my orders were local, so they would order online and then they’d message [me] and say, ‘Can I come pick it up in person so you don’t have to ship it and stress it out?’” That’s when the next step in Aviles’ business career became clear to her – she needed to open a brick and mortar storefront that was accessible to her clientele base, which was primarily in the northern Virginia area. During her search for a space to establish her business, Aviles found that the small-town charm and close-knit community afforded by Old Town Warrenton was exactly the environment she envisioned. “I knew that for the type of shop that I wanted, I really wanted it to have an old town vibe where you can walk, and where there are mom and pop shops,” she says. “I really wanted it to be very unique. And I love Warrenton. It’s so cute, all the boutiques and the shops, the people, the entire vibe.”

Since opening the storefront, Aviles has been able to expand her business model beyond sales of sunglasses and indoor plants to include services, such as repotting and plant diagnosis, as well as full plant care service packages geared toward businesses that may want to spruce up their space but don’t have the means to provide reliable care for their office greenery. “I wanted to offer that because I understand that not everybody is like me and is obsessed with plants,” says Aviles, “but a lot of people still want them, they just don’t want to deal with them, and that’s okay. I will take care of that for you.”

Blooming in a Pandemic

With many businesses struggling to remain open during the COVID-19 pandemic, Aviles’s decision to open a storefront in the midst of 2020 is one that surprised many of her friends and family. But according to Aviles, “COVID-19 affected [my business] the opposite of what it did for a lot of people, because during COVID-19, you have people who are stuck at home. They want to go outside, and if they can’t go outside, they want to feel like they have some life in their house.” According to an article from The Guardian, titled “Flower power: Covid restrictions fuel boom in plant and bulb sales,” Aviles isn’t the only plant retailer whose business is blooming during the pandemic; one company has seen its plant sales rise as much as 500 percent from the previous year, and another claims to have seen more than a 500 percent increase in the number of adults 18 to 24 visiting its website between June and October. Aviles’s experience further supports these apparent trends. “I’ve had numerous people – I want to say maybe one in three people that comes in here – say that they started getting into plants during COVID-19,” she says. “It’s exciting that something like COVID-19 could bring people into this [plant] world because it is a seriously gratifying life, having plants and watching them grow. I think it’s exciting, and it brings people joy – it really does.”

Sowing Seeds for the Future

One might assume that with Aviles having just recently opened up shop she would still be getting settled. But when asked about the future, Aviles has plenty in mind and no intention of stopping now. “I want to offer different care classes, repotting classes, propagating classes,” she says. Aviles currently offers a book within her shop, titled Plant Journal Journey, that she created to help plant owners document the care and health of their plants. In addition, she hopes to author another book detailing the specific care instructions for each of the plants she sells. “I also want to do a podcast,” she adds.

Aviles also sees partnerships with other local Warrenton businesses in her company’s future, including collaborative events with local coffee shops and teaming up with a nearby pottery studio – a fitting companion for plant shoppers who likely will be looking for a planter to house their new green friends. “I have so many ideas,” she exclaims, “and I know I’m just getting started, but I don’t really want to slow down. I just want to keep going.”

Prissylily Co.
30 S. 3rd St., Warrenton
FB: @prissylilyplants

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