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Shop Tour: Little Leaf

by Erin Austen Abbott

When I travel, I go out of my way to stop into shops and restaurants that I have discovered previously. Even if I’m just passing through, I make a point to visit these beautifully designed and merchandised brick-and-mortar spots in person. So, while on my book tour up the East Coast last spring, I made sure that Little Leaf and sister store Salt & Sundry were on my agenda as I passed through Washington, D.C.

Owner Amanda McClements first opened Salt & Sundry in 2012 after years spent writing about food and lifestyle. “I had a place in my mind that pulled together all of my favorite things — from vintage textiles to handmade ceramics and small-batch foods — and started dreaming about it actually existing. The question became, ‘Why not create it?’ I opened a second location of Salt & Sundry in 2014 in a little historic 700-square-foot space in Washington, D.C.’s Logan Circle neighborhood,” Amanda shares. Her next step was to carve out a space for another love of hers — plants. Amanda doesn’t remember a time when plants weren’t part of her life. She recalls, “I was raised in North Carolina by free-spirited parents and my mom always had a tangled jungle of cacti, succulents and leafy plants in our house. I remember lying on the floor doing my homework one night and accidentally kicking my foot into a particularly mean cactus that left my toes looking like pin cushions.” Little Leaf opened in 2016, around the corner from the second Salt & Sundry location. Mixing her fondness for both plants and paper goods, Amanda’s goal with Little Leaf is to fill a void that the neighborhood was missing.

A good problem to have when keeping shop is running out of inventory. Since their weekly stock of plants is generally completely wiped out by Sunday, Amanda and her team have worked hard to stock more than just plants at Little Leaf. “We carry a variety of succulents, cacti, agave and larger plants like birds of paradise, monstera and umbrella trees. We try to set people up for success by offering plants we know can take whatever conditions city-dwellers can throw at them. Our other main focus at the shop is paper goods, including greeting cards, art prints, wrapping sheets and notebooks. We love highlighting women makers and carry ceramics by Gopi Shah of  San Francisco, Ann Margaret of Baltimore, Elizabeth Benotti of New Hampshire, and Convivial Production of Kansas City.”

If you’re local, Little Leaf is worth the field trip — and if you’re passing through, plan a little extra time to make a visit. —Erin

Photography by Amanda McClements 

Image above: “Our gallery wall features some of out favorite prints from Banquet Atelier, wallpaper by Justina Blakeney x Hygge & West, staghorn ferns and a wall hanging by jewelry designer Julie Nolan,” Amanda says. 

Shop Tour: Little Leaf on Design*Sponge
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At Little Leaf, a large plant wall with a mix of handmade goods among the weekly shipment of plants.
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"We get a fresh batch of plants weekly and then there's hardly room to walk," Amanda explains.
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"A table display featuring Gopi Shah's clay people and Native Bear's boob stamps," Amanda notes.
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The succulent wall at Little Leaf.
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A beautiful wall of paper goods. "We stock a large selection of greeting cards and art prints."
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"[Our] back library wall was built by my dad, Walter, a North Carolina carpenter. It was inspired by the old mercantiles of Washington, D.C.," Amanda shares.
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A few agave babies, with a glimpse of the Little Leaf tile floor.
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A little counter vignette at Little Leaf.
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"Plant and rap puns are our favorite," Amanda laughs.

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