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Rooted in Community: Pot+Box Supplies a Fresh Take on Flowers

March 26, 2018

The floral designer of Flower House fame promises something out-of-the-ordinary at her latest venture in the Fisher Building.

By Amanda Rahn
Photography by Michelle Gerard

Peek into Pot+Box, and you’ll see a splash of green on every surface: lush ferns spill over tables, rows of succulents line a wall and a glossy plant with huge, split leaves drapes the floor.

Detroit resident Lisa Waud, 39, owner of the little shop packed to the brim, laughs with a woman shopping and tells her the plants are squeezing all the customers out. But business has been booming since the brick-and-mortar opened in the Fisher Building in December.

pot+boxMichelle Gerard/SEEN

Inside Pot+Box

“We’ve already seen a really encouraging response to the shop,” she says. “People are stopping in every week, scouting out a plant or buying a bouquet for a dinner party.”

The retail space, where Waud sells house plants, out-of-the-ordinary bouquets and handmade goods, is the latest venture for the Detroit-based florist.

Waud sparked an international media firestorm three years ago when she opened Flower House, a living art installation inside a blighted Hamtramck property. Her business continued to grow over the past two summers when she partnered with Detroit businesses like City Bird and Astro Coffee, selling in front of their storefronts from her ice cream-turned-flower truck.

Now, her sunny shop is stuffed with a rotating crowd of customers in need of guidance. One says she’s looking for a plant to sit next to a door in her living room. Waud launches into a conversation about the plant monstera and peppers her with questions: “Is there a draft from the door? Do you know what direction the room faces? Is it going on the floor?”

She juggles between helping couples looking for a wedding florist, prepping for community events in the shop and chatting with other business owners who stop in for a visit. The duo behind Red Hook, the coffee shop in Ferndale and Detroit, bring Waud a snack as Rachel Lutz, owner of the Peacock Room, slips in to say hello.

Her connections go further than visits from her local business pals. She has become a curator, turning her space into an exhibit for handmade goods like greeting cards, art prints and vases made in Detroit and around Michigan.

pot+boxMichelle Gerard/SEEN

Detroit resident and Pot+Box owner, Lisa Waud, in her flower truck.

Waud taps nearby creators for community events and workshops, too, like Monique Herzig from Alchemy, who makes beauty and wellness products, and Louise Jones — known as Ouizi — the artist responsible for the murals of unfurling flowers seen all over town.

What sets Waud’s store apart is her commitment to pushing the little guy to the front. With every local vase or print she sells, she can tell the customer an intimate history of its artist. That intimacy extends all the way to her flowers, as she chooses local growers and flower farms.

“I’m really committed to working as locally as possible,” she says. “I’m always working to, if you’ll pardon the pun, ‘cultivate’ relationships with growers and customers to really elevate the style and the flowers and plants that are available.”

She says visitors come to her for more than the “standard things you can find at a farmers market, like snapdragons, zinnia or sunflowers.”

“We’re trying to bring in things with different textures and really special shades and hues you maybe don’t see every day,” she says.

pot+boxMichelle Gerard/SEEN

Inside Pot+Box

One of her local plant suppliers, Graye’s Greenhouse in Plymouth, owned by Alyce Humphrey, says Waud’s tastes are eclectic and she always leaves with a few “kooky” plants — like a fern that resembles a tarantula’s legs or a flower that looks like a goldfish — each time she visits.

“She has a spot-on sense of taste, and she’s not afraid to try new things,” Humphrey says.

While Waud works to bring in exciting flowers to surprise her customers, her commitment to local and American-grown flowers is paramount — she even sits on the board of the Michigan Flowers Growers’ Cooperative, where she’s one of two florists on the board. Her Flower House installation paid homage to that mission: Only American-grown flowers and plants were used in the project.

“I think a project like Flower House, it kind of helped people understand that I do things a little differently — or maybe a lot differently,” she says.

Her next step? Encouraging Detroiters to see the flower-growing business as a way to support themselves.

“There is a lot of land here in this city,” she says. “Growing flowers on your side lot could be a source of income, and how beautiful would that be to have flower plots everywhere?”

3011 W. Grand Boulevard,
Suite 130, Detroit
Tuesday-Friday noon to 6 p.m.; Saturday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

See more photos of the Flower House and Waud’s flower truck here.

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