Challenges of Flower Growing in Retail Setting

Less than two months ago, Natalie Pendleton, the lead designer for feminine floral retail chain Monogram, arrived at her first office in Brooklyn to find the facility was vacant and falling apart. No heavy machinery. Not even a yardstick to measure the diameter of the flowers she was to grow. “I go in, and this window is dead. All right, this window is dead, too,” said Ms. Pendleton, whose store sells colorful pillows, throws and bags infused with well-placed floral-print blooms. Monogram was looking for a bright, airy space with ample on-site greenhouse space to test the viability of turning a pitch-black interior into an artisanal, stylish greenhouse. The results were successful. “We grew more flowers in three months [than we had previously] in the two years we’d been selling flower home,” Ms. Pendleton said. For $20 a month, Monogram clients can have their flowers grown at home. The staff of two, including co-owner Dan Kelley, are not pros — “we’re not biology professors” — but as builders and landscapers, Ms. Pendleton and Mr. Kelley say they understood what was needed for an expansive space. Ms. Pendleton went to rescue the vacant space with the help of Colleen McPhee, the senior artistic director at the Jane Hotel, a destination for creative types in Brooklyn. Before long, Mr. Kelley and Ms. Pendleton had opened their own greenhouse, supported by its own round-the-clock electrical generator, and with Ms. Pendleton in charge of producing flowers exclusively. Monogram has since blossomed, as has Ms. Pendleton’s creativity. Ms. Pendleton’s photographs of the sprawling warehouse reflect images of Soho’s famous antique stores: Everything on display is vintage. “Nothing is modern or new here,” Ms. Pendleton says. “I want people to understand that this space has been here since before the Beaux Arts.”