Megan Awada, Wicked Plants
Plant Shop, Chicago
Megan Awada never imagined that her hobby of growing house plants would turn into Wicked Plants, the plant shop she now runs in the Lakeview neighborhood of Chicago. After spending her early career in advertising, Megan lost her job in 2020 and was stuck at home. “In my office at my job, I had big windows, and I kept giving plants to people,” Megan said. “Then when I was at home, I kind of did the same thing.” The interest in Megan’s plants grew rapidly, and she didn’t have the space or inventory to keep up with the demand. “I kind of made the big leap to just rip the band-aid off and open a shop and see how things went,” Megan said.
Wicked Plants was inspired by Megan’s childhood in New Hampshire. The name “Wicked Plants” came from her New England roots. Megan said she spent time gardening with her mother growing up, but that the concept of house plants wasn’t yet popular. When she moved to Chicago, her passion for plants was reignited by a friend who had a lot of plants in her apartment. “It started and never stopped,” Megan said. “It was just this passion and obsession with plants!”
When Megan started her business, she became a member of Lakeview Roscoe Chamber of Commerce (LVRCC). The Chamber provided Wicked Plants with marketing and exposure including a ribbon cutting for the grand opening and a feature in their newsletter and on social media. By being a member of the Chamber, Megan is a part of a community of other businesses that have regular meetups. The Chamber provides other advertising opportunities such as neighborhood activities that include small businesses, one of which is the Roscoe Village Farmer’s Market. In addition to LVRCC, Megan also worked with the Women’s Business Development Center and SCORE for business coaching and mentoring.
When asked how she worked through the logistics needed to start her business, Megan says, “I wish I had [ChiBizHub] when I was starting out. It took me an extra year because I just couldn’t figure stuff out.” Some of Megan’s initial challenges included questions about technology, legal issues, and finances. Megan hired a lawyer and accountant and recommends new business owners find both as an initial step in starting their business. “Fake it till you make it because otherwise you’re not gonna try to figure it out. It was hectic and stressful and fun and exciting,” Megan shared. “There’s a lot of moving parts and a lot of things you can’t plan for, so you kind of need to prepare yourself to be ready for the unexpected!”
Develop Your Idea – Wicked Plants
- Identify the Problem
What problem am I trying to solve?
When I started this my idea was “community, education, interactive.” I wanted to create a spot community-wide where people weren’t afraid to come in and ask questions. People would bring a sad plant and I’d help them fix it. Right now, I don’t do workshops, but the first workshop will be in August. Follow @WickedPlantsChicago on Instagram for updates!
What is my product?
Plants, planters, soil, fertilizers and other funky plant accessories. Wicked Plants also offers in store & in home repotting/plant rehabbing. The first item Megan bought were skull planters. And our number one seller is disco ball planters.
How will I price it?
I’m still figuring it out and constantly changing the pricing on things. That’s just normal. The pricing ebbs and flows. If I have a pot that’s been sitting there, maybe something is priced too high. Maybe it’s really ugly. Maybe it’s in the wrong spot. I want to make money, but I don’t want to deter people every time they pick something up and look at the price.
2. Define Your Ideal Customer
How would I describe my customer?
A customer that engages with us, asks questions, and is interested in learning things to make sure they can take care of the plant correctly. You’re buying something alive, and you want to make sure you can care for it.
3. Prepare to Sell Your Product
How will I market my new idea?
Really Instagram is my only outlet. I do have Facebook, but I’m not very good at keeping up with it. I’ll just share whatever I share on Instagram. Then the [Lakeview Roscoe Village] Chamber of Commerce, and the foot traffic. I’m very lucky with that. I’ve had people say, “I’ve seen those disco ball planters for a month, and I had to come in and get one!” It’s all aesthetics. I’m constantly moving things around.
How will I make my first sale?
I first started selling Monsteras and Pothos [plants] on Facebook marketplace. For the grand opening, the disco ball planters [were the biggest seller]. I sold out of almost all of them!