Small Business Profile: Erin Doherty, Owner of Field - Philadelphia
Hi Erin! Tell us a little bit about yourself.
My name is Erin, and I live in Philly with my fiancé Jon and our dogs. I own a curated plant shop called Field.
What is your background?
I moved to Philly on a whim from Chicago, and nannied for awhile. From there I worked at a small boutique, where I really got to know the ins and outs of small business, and knew then that I someday wanted my own store. After that I became the vintage buyer for Urban Outfitters, where I learned large capacity buying, vendor relations and curating collections.
What led you to begin Field?
When I was suddenly laid off, I had no idea what was next or how I was going to earn. Field started when a former colleague suggested I sell all my plants for money... I gasped and said I could never let them go, to which she replied, "well, then you should just sell plants for money!" After thinking it over, I pulled my resources and decided that I could actually make this idea work... that what I had in mind wasn't really being done anywhere else, and that if I wanted it to happen, now was the time.
Did you always know you wanted to have a brick and mortar shop?
Yes, I have wanted to own a store for quite some time, I just wasn't sure in what capacity that would be. I always assumed it would be some type of clothing store, given my background, but am very happy with what the shop turned out to be.
How do you find your artists and collaborators for your pop-ups and workshops?
Instagram is a major tool for me, but I also find artists locally and via other artists.
How do you source the plants and materials that you have in your shop?
I use three main sources for my plants, and it has stemmed from a ton of research to find the best growers I could. I try to hand pick as much as I can, so it’s important that they’re local and I can get to them within a few hours drive. Sometimes, though, they aren’t local and I have to drive 3.5 hours. (Like my Pilea Peperiomdes grower!)
How do you connect with your clients and community?
Every month I host a First Friday event featuring a new artist that uses the mezzanine space to showcase the art or craft that they make. Last month, ceramicist Molly Bernstein taught a workshop using colored clay and hand building techniques. My hope is to have each artist host a workshop based on the art they make to coincide with they're pop-up.
What are some of your favorite plants?
This IS difficult, haha. I have a beautiful 4ft tall variegated Euphorbia that if it died I would cry- it’s been with me for awhile and is just so so pretty. Otherwise, my favorite plant is a gnarly prickly pear that started from one paddle, and weighs around 70lbs. I make my fiancé lug it around because the last time I tried I broke the top off and nearly dropped it on my foot. As annoying and huge as it is, I still love it.
Where do you draw inspiration from?
I’m really inspired by sleepy Texas towns and the laid back style of Southern California. It’s our dream to someday retire in far west Texas.
What makes you passionate about the work that you do?
The reaction from my customers, hands down. It means so much to me that other people see what I’m doing and actually like it. It makes me feel like what I’m doing is a valid way to support myself.
What are some of the setbacks or challenges you face with Field?
For awhile, it was finding the right space and location to open. I knew I wanted to be in Fishtown, a neighborhood I’d lived in for 11 years and watched grow into what it is now. But, everything was either new construction or very dark, long storefronts with no windows. I ended up in a brand new building, but it’s so perfect because it’s basically all windows. Now that Field has a home, it's transitioning from part time pop-ups to full time shopkeeper. There are so many things to keep track of, and my biggest challenge is knowing who to delegate tasks to or accept outside help from.
At The Glossary, we believe in women working together and helping one another. Why do you think it is important for women to support each other?
I think right now, in these times, we definitely need to band together and lift each other up. It's so easy to get caught up in the day to day struggle. I think it is also important now, more than ever, to be kind to other women and be as encouraging as possible in their endeavors.
What creative women do you find inspiring?
The women I keep in my life are ever inspiring... clothing designers, ceramicists, textile enthusiasts, heads of departments...etc. Then there are the others ... maybe a little more famous than my friends, but inspiring none the less... Georgia, Agnes, Frida, Patti and the list goes on.
What have you learned from owning your business that you think can apply to any creative endeavor?
Honestly, just do it- take risks and have confidence in what you’re trying to achieve. Mistakes will be made but if you don’t try then you’ll never know!
How do you manage your time?
Time? What's that?! Ha! I am notoriously bad at time management- it’s something I am going to work on more this year. Right now I try to focus on one thing but it’s hard to do when there are so many things to be done in a day!
How do you deal with moments of self doubt?
On really slow days I get so discouraged that I wonder what the heck I was thinking by opening a store. And then usually the next day will be really good and those thoughts are replaced with positive ones. I also try to remember that my store is only 6.5 months old, and there will growing pains.
What tools or resources have been most helpful for you in creating your business?
I utilize (a little too often) my fiancé’s career in graphic design for all things digital, and a few good friends for their carpentry skills for things I need done around the store. My background as a buyer taught me how to reach out and source new brands while traveling or just surfing the web.
What are some of your favorite places in Philadelphia?
Oh... So hard to pick just a few, but, I love Longwood Gardens for the ability to go and roam for the whole day, the Morris Arboretum for all the spring blooms, The Barnes... Dimitris has the best food, better with wine and good friends, and finally, the woods near my home in the Wissahickon.