Locations in Washington, D.C., Maryland, and Virginia is an impressive feat for any small business owner in the Washington, D.C. area. When Joseph Ressler opened REWILD, a plant store on a mission to connect people to nature, in 2018 with business partners Lily Cox and Kyle Cannon, he didn’t expect to expand quickly. Within five years, REWILD went from a floral shop to a plant store with locations in two Washington, D.C. neighborhoods, Maryland, and Virginia.
Opening stores throughout the Washington, D.C. area is a sort of homecoming for Ressler. Growing up in North Potomac, Maryland, he now lives inside Washington, D.C. in a neighborhood called Brightwood Park. “It’s a true neighborhood—walkable, quiet, and with unique row houses,” says Ressler.
One of his favorite things to do in his neighborhood is walk to Lost Sock Roasters’ pop-up at Anxo, a local hard cider company. With coffee, food, spacious seating, and pictures of dogs hanging on the walls, the pop-up feels like home.
Ressler’s Local Recommendations
Ressler is local to the core. When in the Washington, D.C. area, ask him for recommendations. He’ll send you to D.C.’s Habesha Marketand Maryland’s Wang Dynasty for food, D.C.’s All Souls Bar and Maryland’s Quarry House Tavern for drinks, and D.C.’s Flash and Virginia’s Wolf Trap for sounds.
His ideal day includes grabbing coffee locally with his wife before walking their dog in Rock Creek Park, the country’s third national park. Next stop would be the National Mall with a visit to the U.S. Botanic Garden to see plants. (He is a plant shop owner after all.) He’d end his day with Chinese takeout at home while watching Seinfeld. If his friends get lucky, they may be able to convince him to leave home for a nightcap.
His ideal day keeps him in the area. Rather than travel the world, Ressler prefers to be at home. “I actually love being home and being in the same place for a long time. You get to watch that place change and grow and I think the depth of that is very appealing to me,” he says.
Despite being a homebody, he and his wife snuck away to Italy during the summer to explore Bologna, Florence, Rome, and Taorimina. “We really loved scootering around from one site to another. It was a blast zooming around these beautiful cities,” says Ressler.
Not only does a love for home keep him grounded in Washington, D.C., but his business does too. After working as a professional poker player for eight years, the idea for REWILD was born when he earned his MBA at Georgetown University.
Even though poker is only a hobby now, Ressler applies poker strategy to running a business. “Poker is about logic, probability, and psychology. You run a business through all three tests. Does my idea make sense? Logic. Will my idea most likely work out? Probability. Do I have any bias around my ideas? Psychology,” notes Ressler.
He goes on to explain that in poker you must focus on what you can control. Same in running REWILD. He can’t control when customers come in and for what, but he can focus on training his staff to prioritize customer service, selling quality plants, and more.
After a few dead ends trying to work in corporate America, Ressler loves what he does. As REWILD’s CEO, he thrives on seeing end results. He says, “Whether that is a beautiful store that our team spent a bunch of time putting together, or an office building that we decorated, or even just walking down the street and noticing our plants in someone’s window. The end result of adding greenery into spaces is the best.”
Ressler considers himself an entrepreneur. His advice to other entrepreneurs is to “just start.” He says, “I can’t tell you how many people I talk to who are looking for speed bumps to delay starting. As the saying goes, the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago, the second best time is today.”
Patience and Perseverance
As he continues to grow and expand REWILD, the words of Ressler’s mother ring true: “always persevere.” Perseverance takes patience, something not unfamiliar to Ressler. His house is full of cacti, plants that require patience. He nursed a Peruvian apple cactus and saw it blossom for the first time after four years!
As a plant owner himself, Ressler’s passion is to help find the right plant for the right space in customers’ homes and apartments. It’s what makes REWILD stand out. Selling unique plants from smaller or family-owned nurseries, REWILD’s staff listen to each customer and connect them to the right-for-them plant.
REWILD’s personal care for each customer is how the brand started. Ressler started to notice plants sold in big chain stores and other environments he sees as impersonal. Believing that plants are personal, he and his co-owners created a more intimate store experience for customers.
And it worked. REWILD is rooted in the “belief that caring for plants is a deep form of self-care.” Self-care leads to growth. A plant and its caregiver mature together, a lesson that expands beyond a home and into the world.
Register now for Dreams Abroad’s inaugural Meet the Locals event at REWILD’s location in Eastern Market on November 4.
By Austin Graff