Terrarium Artisan: Lisa Yen

In New York City, our green spaces are precious and few. The delightful Brooklyn artist Lisa Yen knows this well, and in response, makes gorgeous and refreshing microcosms of nature and preserves them under glass.

Lisa pairs the Verana Dress with her Moss Globe Necklace.

What inspired you to start Moss + Twig?

When I moved to Brooklyn, I really missed the outdoor space that I’d taken for granted from growing up in the suburbs. As a relief, I started building a little ‘rainforest’ in my apartment. Terrariums and many other projects developed, and Moss + Twig was formed. Living in New York means space is limited, so I created my terrariums to be small, compact ecosystems. I’m drawn to quality wood and craftsmanship, but those things are harder to come by these days. The market is saturated with plastic and machine-made products. That’s why I design my products with real materials — wood, glass, cork — to showcase these beautiful living plants. 

Lisa prepares one of her creations in the Emily Dress and her adorable studio dog Larry.

What is your favorite part of being your own boss?

I feel so fortunate that I am able to turn my passion into a business that I enjoy doing very day. It’s true what they say, “Do what you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life.” Nothing compares to the feeling of accomplishment and the joy I feel when I get orders each day and when my customers reach out to me and tell me how much they love the terrarium they received.

What intrigues you about working with ephemeral material versus preserved plants? 

I work mainly with moss and algae (AKA Marimo moss balls), and these type of plants last a very long time. They are certainly slow growers but I love their strength in various environments. I want to provide product that is easy to care for and my terrariums definitely fit the bill. I have jewelry pieces that have living marimo in it, and others that have preserved plants. In the end I want to provide my customers with something unique and beautiful.

Which elements of ethical products are important to you?

Most mass product these days are produced without much thought to environmental and social consequences. This is why I love that the Maker Revolution that has been happening – it brings attention to hand-made and ethically-made products and raises the question of ‘How was this produced, what materials were used, what footprint does it or will it leave behind?’ It’s something we should consider especially since the world we live in is becoming a more fragile place.

What does work hard, dress smart mean to you?

Working hard is something I am very familiar with. With hard work comes results, whether it is tangible or not. But it is also important to learn to work smarter – finding the best methods to go about starting and completing a project, managing the time you have to get as much accomplished as possible, and coming up with creative ways to get work done! To me dressing smart means to be comfortable. When you’re comfortable, your mind is more at ease, you feel confident and it will show.