Katherine Raz: Owner of The Fernseed

Devin Anding

Katherine Raz and her husband could have moved anywhere in the country when they decided to leave Chicago, but Raz kept circling back to Tacoma. The vibe of the city resonated with her, and upon settling here in May 2018, she immediately started looking for commercial real estate to open a brick and mortar shop. Though Raz spent much of her career as a writer and marketer, it’s always been her dream to own her own store. Her light-filled home inspired her to fill it with plants, and she noticed a need in the South Sound for a shop that offers trendy plants and pots in one place. In 2018, Raz launched The Fernseed as an online-only boutique, and in April, she fulfilled her long-time aspiration with a design-focused plant shop in Proctor. 

Favorite Places

To Relax

David Kovalenko via Unsplash

Going to Mount Rainier, particularly with my kids. And it’s fun to take them to Crystal Mountain on the gondola.

For Dinner

Matriarch Lounge and The Table

To Grab a Drink

State Street Beer Co.; the vibe is super laid-back

To Be Inspired

Museums and craft fairs

Inspiration Board

What are you bingeing?

Happier with Gretchen Rubin. She’s so real but also kinda geeky in a really approachable way. 

What are you listening to?

Courtesy Gimlet Media

I’m a business podcast person. I really like Without Fail and How I Built This.

Favorite Plant

Lepismium cruciforme. It’s a trailing cactus that has spiky tendrils that come down. It looks like Medusa’s head. 

Favorite Quote

This is what I’m living my life by recently: People like to board a train that’s leaving the station. It means that when you’re doing the thing, that’s when people will join with you, help you, collaborate with you, and seek you out. If you’re just sort of talking about it, if you’re just dreaming about it, that’s why it’s not happening. 

Who Inspires You?

Laura Vanderkam; she has a podcast called Before Breakfast, and she’s an author. In her book, I Know How She Does It, she did all these time studies of women who had children and made over $100,000 a year. 

What’s something you do for yourself?

Going back to that conversation about how women get it done, I started doing Wash and Fold for my kids’ laundry. You drop off your dirty laundry, and you pick it up, and it’s washed and folded. I spent so many hours of my life doing and folding children’s laundry; it’s a never-ending task. It seems like a frivolous expense. I feel like I shouldn’t outsource this to someone else. It feels weird, but at the same time, it’s the best thing I’ve ever done. 

Q&A

When drafting the mental blueprints for your store, what was important to you?

Devin Anding

One thing that was important to me is A) I want plants to be accessible to people that don’t know a lot about plants. I didn’t want people to feel like we were a bunch of plant snobs. I also wanted to emphasize the work of makers. Handmade is really important in terms of the vessels we sell here. We sell a lot of local artists’ ceramic work. Also, I try as much as possible to look at the environmental impact of the things we sell here. As we move forward, I’m eliminating things that are made with harmful chemicals. 

What has the process of opening this shop taught you about yourself?

So much. I always wanted to open a brick and mortar shop. But if you tell people you’re opening a brick and mortar, they’ll tell you, “Oh, brick and mortar is dead,” or “That’s so risky,” and I listened to other people for so long — people who have your best interest in mind but want to warn you away from any risk. I think the process of having the shop has taught me that I have taken a calculated risk that, so far, has paid off. 

It was the thing I always wanted to do, and you hear all your life, “Just do what you love, and the money will follow,” and I never did it. But once I made that decision ­­— that, plus having confidence — has taught me that the thing that you deep down always wanted to do — not the practical thing, not the thing that’s going to make a lot of money — do the thing that you want to do, and it will be successful.  

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is an assistant editor at South Sound magazine. Email her.
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