Allison Kuhlman loves wandering through plant shops and finding cute new pots for her collection. So when her full-time wedding photography business came to a halt amid last year’s shutdowns, she decided to get crafty and make her own. The result is Wander Plant Pots, a whimsical line of pots and planters, swirling with bold colors or sparkling with glitter.
Kuhlman’s new business grew quickly. After buying a silicone plant pot mold, she tried out different materials before eventually landing on cement. “I started experimenting with off-the-wall ideas I had,” she says. Her most popular proved to be the geode planters ($20-$95), decorated with a secret mixture of crushed glass and other glittery substances. “We went from just me making it by myself one day to over 2,000 sales within the year,” she says.
With sales steadily increasing, Kuhlman hired two employees, her neighbor, Troy Tofil, and his cousin, Addie Garst, to help with production. Together, the trio create the pots in Kuhlman’s garage workshop, which evolved quicky along with the business. “I purchased tons of shelves and built tools for the pots, like a wooden container for sanding,” she says. “Then the garage quickly became a shipment and fulfillment station.”
As a photographer of 12 years, Kuhlman is no stranger to running a small business, but switching from a service-based model to a product-based one came with a learning curve. “With a product-based business, there’s a lot to learn about supplies, margins and pricing and it was a big transition for me,” she says. “Dealing with the fact that you have a lot of overhead was totally new.”
Trust the Process
Designing a style typically starts with Kuhlman sketching it out on her iPad. “I’m much more of a let’s-just-go-throw-it-at-the-wall-and-see-what-sticks kind of person,” she says. The team makes pots in batches, usually pouring them into molds one day and decorating the next. After that, they wait for the cement to cure, which can take anywhere from a few hours to overnight, depending on the humidity. wanderplantpots.com