The drawings of a local mid-century modern architect first inspired Megan Strasser of Fern to re-evaluate how she could integrate plants into her home. Within the architect’s storyboard, each plant was as carefully chosen as the furniture.
Fueled by a passion for creating interactive spaces, Strasser wanted to open a shop in Cincinnati that allowed people to visualize how plants could work in their homes. In 2014, she opened Fern, a plant design studio and home goods store, in College Hill. Soon, Fern will be expanding its reach into Walnut Hills, offering a new location for customers to explore.
“I liked the idea of approaching the plants you choose and how you design your space in a more holistic way,” Strasser says. “What plant goes in your living room is just as important as the couch you chose.”
Strasser calls herself a “serial entrepreneur,” having spent years styling for magazine and craft books, working for Anthropologie, and transforming spaces from a popup vintage clothing boutique to a 1968 camper that she turned into a mobile coffee cart.
The original Fern location was once a gas station that Strasser revamped after her parents renovated their home across the street, which was once an old bank building, nearly 20 years ago. For many years, the gas station was boarded up. When the station became available, Strasser was drawn to the opportunity to restore it and spent nights with her son sketching out ideas for how she could transform the building. Strasser likes to say there would be no Fern without that space.
Framed with clean lines and large windows, Fern has become known for its strong aesthetic. The shop offers minimalist planters with handmade ceramics from more than 30 independent artists and makers. Strasser says she tries to connect the imperfections found in handmade ceramic planters with the imperfections found in nature.
Since opening, the jungle-like storefront has cultivated a strong community of plant lovers. Fern has more than 30,000 followers on Instagram and was named a favorite plant shop by Urban Jungle, a plant blog and shop with millions of followers worldwide.
Customers have been asking Fern to open a second location for years, but it never felt right to Strasser—until now. “It’s the right timing, the right neighborhood, and the right space,” she says. “I didn’t know I was ready until I was shown the space. I just walked in and I saw it, I felt like it was Fern.”
Fern is aiming to open the new location in Walnut Hills by early December. The team is focusing on bringing more home goods into the new store, including more handmade ceramics and even dinnerware. The College Hill location will remain Fern’s primary event space, while the Walnut Hills store will be retail-focused.
Despite a tumultuous year, Strasser says the pandemic has been very good for the plant business. As people are spending more time at home, she says, they want to invest more into their space, which has driven demand for more plants.
Strasser is grateful to soon be part of another growing neighborhood in Cincinnati, and is eager for customers to interact in the space: “I feel very proud that we will get to exist in two very vibrant and diverse residential communities.”
Fern, 737 E. McMillan St., Walnut Hills