November/December 2018
Houseplant Fashion By Abby (Kleckler) McGarry

Houseplants are hot right now. There’s no doubt about that, but how can you make them even hotter by setting your customers up for success and having fun? Jessie Jacobson, owner of Tonkadale Greenhouse, shares with Lawn & Garden Retailer how the Hipster Houseplant Runway Show has taken off at its store in Minnetonka, Minnesota.

Owner Jessie Jacobson and staff take pride in Tonkadale Greenhouse’s vision, mission and values. These three things that are gray or nonexistent at some garden centers make a huge impact on everything they do, including events like the Hipster Houseplant Runway Show.
Vision: To forever be your greenhouse home.
Mission: To enrich lives by creating plant-inspired experiences as we connect everyone to beautiful spaces.
Values: Obsessed with success. Ridiculously passionate. Always approachable. Fun, fresh and focused. Courageous and kind.


The event started in 2017, and so far, there have been four Hipster Houseplant Runway Shows, two each year. They take place for one hour on a Saturday morning and put attendees up close and personal with the hippest houseplants of the season alongside a turf runway. The goals for the event, according to Jessie, include driving sales of indoor plants, houseplant housing — yes, that’s the hip way to say pots — potting soil, fertilizer and solutions, along with providing education related to indoor plant care, houseplant styling and more. The runway show includes 20 to 25 different sets of plants with containers separated into high, medium and low light ideas. Informative yet humorous emceeing and music keep the whole show upbeat.


Every staff member plays a role in the runway show. Many are vehicles to carry the models — the plants — down the runway while others take photos and help with plant styling. Jessie says it is fun to get everyone involved with the setup, presentation, take-down and customer interaction. The week before the event the visual team is making sure all display areas are on point, while the day before, floors are swept; the turf runway is laid down and vacuumed; chairs, microphones and music are set up; plants are styled and queued up; and everyone takes part in a rehearsal. The enthusiasm is there, and for Jessie, it’s also a source of employee education and training. Tonkadale always makes having good inventory a priority, but before the show, a fresh plant shipment and some new things like fun and funky pots are helpful in getting attendees excited. Jessie watches Instagram all the time for trending indoor plants and works with her brokers to source them.


The event was announced to 12,000 email subscribers as well as in-store posters and fliers and social media posts on Facebook and Instagram. After each Hipster Houseplant Runway Show, the team creates a speedy video recap of the runway portion to upload on Facebook and the website. Jessie says the fun, fresh and focused content in an approachable way helps draw in the next generation of gardeners, but there’s still more potential to appeal to this younger age group that often brings with them more social media coverage during and after the show.


Jessie hopes to start working on partnerships and collaborations to attract a new audience of customers based on local vendors who are trending on Instagram. Currently, attendees enjoy bubbly and glitter doughnuts, but Tonkadale hopes to work with a local bakery or food vendor. Also, think local photographers, DJs, clothing vendors and social media personalities. Jessie says the event possibilities for Tonkadale and others could go beyond houseplants too. How about a pollinator runway show? Attendance is currently around 60 people, but the format along the “main aisle” of the greenhouse can hold many more. A local TV show, Twin Cities Live, also has shown interest in featuring a mini runway segment on its afternoon show.

Abby (Kleckler) McGarry

Abby (Kleckler) McGarry is the managing editor of Lawn & Garden Retailer. Contact her at [email protected].