Refresh: Elio Calabrese | Urban Planting Cleveland

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Elio Calabrese has grown.

In late 2017, Urban Planting Cleveland was founded with the purpose of bringing plant life into the built environment. After a year of setting up shop at events and festivals, Elio moved his basement studio into a modern industrial studio shop located on Cleveland’s near west side. Housed in The Hildebrandt Building, an old meat packing factory turned community based art & food collective, Urban Planting Cleveland is the jungle oasis you’ve been dreaming of.

Urban Planting Cleveland’s studio shop in The Hildebrandt Building.

Urban Planting Cleveland’s studio shop in The Hildebrandt Building.

Things you need to know:

  1. Urban Planting Cleveland Studio Shop is open Saturdays from 11-3 and by appointment.

  2. You can hire Urban Planting Cleveland to create custom moss artwork for your home or business.

  3. Urban Planting Cleveland offers plant rentals for events and gatherings.

  4. Some amazing events are coming up at the studio shop! Check them out.

Custom moss artwork on display at the Urban Planting Cleveland studio shop. Fun fact: it lights up in many different ways!

Custom moss artwork on display at the Urban Planting Cleveland studio shop. Fun fact: it lights up in many different ways!

what he’s up to now

Q&A with A Linderella Story

I love plants and I want others to be able to learn about them and enjoy them as much as I do.


In our first interview, you talked about wanting to open a retail space of your own but had not acquired one yet. When did you move your studio into Hildebrandt Building?

I moved my business into The Hildebrandt Building in October 2018. After searching for a couple months to find the right space, I realized that I did not want to move into a traditional retail storefront. So, I began looking into the idea of using a community based building.

At the Hildebrandt Building, I am always surrounded by creative people and it is so encouraging to see what people in the building are working on. I am constantly learning from the inspiration around me. Opening a studio in a building alongside such like-minded, supportive people has allowed me to business to the next level.

How are the plants adapting to the new space?

When we moved into the studio in October, it was still warm outside and the plants loved that.  However, when we had to start using the heater to keep the space warm, things got tricky.  

When the building was a meat packing plant, my studio was utilized as a freezer. It is well insulated but does not hold heat, so I’ve had to adapt my routine and learn what is best for the plants in their new environment. Now that I’ve figured out the best techniques, they’re doing just fine.

Urban Planting Cleveland offers a unique variety of tropical foliage, plants, and custom moss creations.

Urban Planting Cleveland offers a unique variety of tropical foliage, plants, and custom moss creations.

What was your biggest challenge in opening up your studio?

The biggest challenge was getting my studio ready to open to the public. With the exception of our “grand” opening in November during a building-wide event, I really did not open up regularly until February 2019.  

Truthfully, I began to struggle with the studio before it even opened—obsessing over the layout and lacking confidence in my abilities. Finally, I decided to put my fears aside and just go for it, opening to the public in February 2019.

We’ve been open for about two months and I absolutely love it. I have already learned so much and the space continues to evolve with time.

How do you currently utilize your studio shop and in what ways do you hope to utilize your studio in the future?

Aside from the shop’s weekend hours, the space doubles as my studio. I use it to hold and care for my plants and carry-out creative projects that got lost in the shuffle of growth. My brother Vince and I have been working to expand our moss artwork options and create a showroom of our work.

I also have a few events in the works. In April, I will be hosting a macramé plant holder workshop as well as a casual networking event, with plans for more retreats, parties, and meet ups in the future (PSA: learn more and buy tickets by clicking the images below!)

I have worked to create a relaxing, unique atmosphere and want everyone to have access to it. I want our studio shop to be a place where people feel free to spend a little more time, rather than quickly stopping by.

What has been the most exciting part about opening up your retail space?

Since there there is no way to window shop my store front because of it’s location, people really have to go out of their way to come support my business, and that means the world to me. It was an exciting moment when people began visiting the studio shop specifically to see what I have to offer.  

During the summer, I work hard to establish an honest relationship with my customers and it has been great to see the loyalty remain throughout the winter months. I love being able to chat with new and returning customers as they browse the shop. Getting to know visitors and hearing what they have to say about the plants they care for really makes everything worth while.

In our last conversation, you mentioned a lot of people who helped you get to where you are today. What are their thoughts on this new venture (especially Wayne!!)?

Everyone, including Wayne, absolutely loves the space I have created.  Plus, The Hildebrandt continues to grow the group of supportive people in my circle. I am thriving off energy from the people around me as we continue to encourage and learn from each other.


What’s next for Urban Planting Cleveland?

I have been focusing on my identity as a company and how I want to navigate the next year as a business owner.  I am constantly focused on providing the people of Cleveland quality plants at an affordable price.

Urban Planting Cleveland is more than a plant shop— it is an experience.

Lindy Hale