Downtown shop about to open new location

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Caption
Downtown shop about to open new location

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

It started as a passion project.

Now a mother-daughter duo will expand their business to a second location.

Now and Zen Terrariums, owned and operated out of 2nd Street Market by Paula Willis and her daughter Alleah Cooks, will open a do-it-yourself studio at 37 S. St. Clair St. in Dayton on June 7 for customers who would like to make their own custom terrariums.

Since opening as a Saturday-only stall at 2nd Street Market five years ago, Now and Zen has seen a lot of success. It has grown to become a staple at the market, where Willis and Cooks primarily sell ready-made terrariums, or miniature ecosystems for plants, at the shop’s permanent space.

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They began holding traveling group workshops in 2016 for customers who wanted to try their hand at designing their own terrarium. The workshops were extremely popular, but finding a location each time became difficult. So, Willis and Cooks made their own.

“A lot of people were like, ‘Do you guys have a spot? Do you have a spot of your own?’ We got asked that question so much that we thought, ‘it’s time,’” said Cooks. “We just want to create an experience where people will be able to create their own designs, put their hands in nature a little bit and have something that they can take home and nurture.”

Willis said she and Cooks designed the studio to be a place where people can express their creativity with the things that they make. They are fostering an environment where people can relax, have fun and take home something that brings them peace.

Now and Zen Terrariums is opening a new location at 37 S. St. Clair St. in Dayton. NOLAN SIMMONS
Caption
Now and Zen Terrariums is opening a new location at 37 S. St. Clair St. in Dayton. NOLAN SIMMONS

Customers can pick an air plant or succulent from the studio’s terrarium bar, as well as the container and embellishments like crystals or stones with inspirational messages to give it a personal touch. The studio also sells plastic containers and dinosaur decorations for children to make their own terrariums, too.

In addition to terrariums, visitors to the DIY studio can put together zen gardens, complete with custom-designed rakes, and will eventually be able to design their own kokedama, or balls of moss-covered soil with an ornamental plant.

Whether ready-made or custom, the terrariums make for great gifts, Willis said. This year’s Mother’s Day crowd was the largest they’ve ever seen.

Willis and Cooks partially attribute Now and Zen’s success to their time at 2nd Street Market. Visitors to the market have seen their terrariums for years, and people always stop in to admire the shop.

The decision to open a DIY studio wasn’t purely financial though, Willis said.

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“We haven’t necessarily tried to push growth. What’s important to us is excellent product offerings and customer service. So, we think that the growth comes from that,” Willis said. “Folks tell us what they want and what we can still do, and we feel good about that. We still want to have fun, and we want folks to have fun.”

Willis and Cooks pride themselves on their commitment to their customers. During their workshops, they offer as much or as little help as people want. The terrariums even come with a little care card with tips on how to take care of the plants.

“A lot of people say, ‘I’m not a plant person, I kill everything,’ and I tell them, ‘let me show you how it works,’” Willis said. “Sometimes people walk back through (the market) and say, ‘It’s still alive!’ and they feel really proud.”


Now and Zen's DIY studio will hold its grand opening Friday, June 7, from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. at 37 S. St. Clair street. Once it opens, the studio will hold a full schedule of workshops. Workshop dates and more information can be found at ShopNowandZen.com.

Now and Zen Terrariums is opening a new location at 37 S. St. Clair St. in Dayton. NOLAN SIMMONS
Caption
Now and Zen Terrariums is opening a new location at 37 S. St. Clair St. in Dayton. NOLAN SIMMONS

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