Gig Harbor’s newest plant shop is open and on wheels.
Plant stylist Salena Ausburn opened her first mobile plant shop, Wild Whimsy Co. in Gig Harbor June 2, the same day the Gig Harbor Waterfront Market started this season.
The plant trailer will be parked on Harborview Drive in the two parking spots in front of The Trolley all summer, selling a variety of indoor house plants.
Residents may recognize Ausburn’s plants from her stand at The Harbor General Store. She’s had a section there since January 2021.
This year she decided she wanted to take her business mobile and purchased the trailer. She fully renovated the trailer into a shop that visitors can walk into and pick out their plants.
She decided to grow her business with a trailer because a brick-and-mortar location is a little out of her reach at the moment, Ausburn said.
“I am a mom of three young kids and this provides me with flexibility and less overhead. I can pop in and out, my kids come here and hang out, and since we live five minutes away my family can ride their bikes down,” Ausburn said.
She said being an entrepreneur as a mom takes a village, and that the trailer and her business would not be where it’s at without a few close friends and family.
The mural on the side of the trailer was painted by Hillarie Isackson, a local muralist in Gig Harbor.
“The vision, everything is me. I originally started by just potting plants and I still do some pre-potted plants for purchase, but I really love to help people pair their plants with planters to match their space,” Ausburn said.
Ausburn’s favorite plant to design is the bird of paradise, which is painted on the side of the trailer.
“I feel like they fit in any space really well because of their light situation and needs, they send tropical vibes,” Ausburn said. “A lot of people like to buy the lemon lime prayer plant. Their leaves will rise and fall like praying hands with the sunlight.”
Wild Whimsy is open four days a week this summer:
- Tuesday, 1 pm-5 pm
- Wednesday, 1 pm-4 pm (4 inch plants are 40 percent off each Wednesday)
- Thursday 1 pm-5 pm
- Saturday 11 am-4 pm
At the moment the trailer is not set up for cooler temperatures, once summer ends.
“I am currently trying to come up with a way I can stick around in the fall,” Ausburn told The Gateway.
Ausburn is entertaining the idea of “Whimsy Wednesdays” in the fall and winter, where she can open once a week. She wants to be able to give residents a place to shop during the holidays.
In order to do that Ausburn would need to find a way to heat the trailer.
This summer she has an AC unit keeping the plants cool.
How Wild Whimsy Co. got started
Although the trailer starts the beginning of physical locations for Wild Whimsy, the brand celebrated two years in business July 23.
“My husband always liked to joke that I had a black thumb,” Ausburn said. She had a notable inability to make plants grow. Then she bought a fiddle fig tree, known to be a finicky fig, and she kept it alive.
“To this day it is my pride and joy plant in my house. It started at 3 feet tall and is now 7 feet tall. The fact that I could keep that plant alive and see that new growth really grew my green thumb and passion for plants,” Ausburn said.
Shortly after that, she turned it into a business. She started telling her friends that she wanted to sell plants to people.
“I also enjoy pairing the plant with the planter and styling the piece. That obsession turned into wanting to share that with everyone else, so they could feel that joy and have that beauty in their home,” Ausburn said.
In 2020, she started selling plants through her Instagram stories and Facebook Market Place. She has almost 3,000 followers on Instagram.
Ausburn’s family moved from the Lake Tapps area to Gig Harbor near the end of 2020. She also had a surprise baby — her third child — and put a pause on her business.
Then at the beginning of 2021, Ausburn felt she was ready to get Wild Whimsy going again.
At some point she looked at an old Pinterest board and saw a trailer business.
“I felt like this idea was feasible and something I could do,” Ausburn said. “This would be how I can get to the next step in my business, that is not a 9-5, keeping the flexibility I am wanting right now.”
Her brother sold her the trailer and things haven’t stopped moving forward from there, Ausburn said.
She hopes the trailer will lead shoppers to the Wild Whimsy corner of Harbor General, where her customers can also check out the store’s locally-made section, to support other small businesses in town.
Next steps for Wild Whimsy Co.
“Right away when I started having pop ups I wanted to grow bigger and immediately have more,” Ausburn said.
Ausburn’s dream is to one day have a long, skinny brick and mortar location with a long, white, skinny table down the middle filled with plants.
“I want people to come to the location, learn all the plant education together and pot the plant right there with me. This could also be something fun to do with friends. Come in and pot together,” Ausburn said. “Part of my love for this business is being able to chat with people in the community.”
In the future Ausburn wants to be able to do home and business plant styling.
“I can come to your place and pick out plants that would belong in the right place with the lighting and get you paired up with the right planters and sizes,” she said.
Gig Harbor residents can look out for succulent workshops that Ausburn hosts, to learn more about indoor plants.