Locals to Know: Meet Neil Silverman, plant lover and celebrator of diversity


You can find Neil at the upcoming Northwest Flower & Garden Festival Feb. 15-19 at the Seattle Convention Center. This year’s festival, themed “Spring Vibes Only,” will feature more than 30 garden displays and vignettes for city dwellers. Also featured: 90+ live seminars, hands-on workshops and a marketplace where visitors can shop for outdoor and house plants, home decor, and unique PNW finds. Plan your visit and buy your tickets.


Who are you? What do you do?

I’m Neil Silverman, owner of Peace, Love, and Happiness Club. The Peace Love and Happiness Club is a tropical oasis located in the bustling Fremont neighborhood in Seattle! We bring JOY to collectors of nature’s art. We specialize in tropical houseplants ranging from great starter plants to hard-to-find rare tropicals. Alongside sits an array of plant supplies (soil, fertilizers, moss poles, amendments, decorative stones), an apothecary, gifts, cards, and seasonal must-haves.

Wax poetic for a minute and tell us: what brings you most alive about this city?

Diversity and inclusion. I was raised in western Massachusetts, near Northampton, where there is an incredibly diverse community. It’s a cosmic kismet kind of thing that I ended up in Fremont, where it feels much the same. We have so many diverse cultures, and so many people living their best lives as a true authentic expression of their hearts. I find it very empowering to be where people are so free to be themselves.

What’s your favorite Seattle memory?

The day of my first Ecuagenera Pop-Up. We had over 1,000 people in two days to visit shop and get the plants of their dreams. It was so much fun and incredibly moving to see so many people happy after the terrible situation we had with COVID. Community was here, and it was wonderful!

If you could eat only one meal from a local restaurant for the rest of your life, what would it be? 

I don’t have just one, but I really enjoy all of the Chinese food here in Seattle. Especially barbecue pork! Also, must say we have the best hot pot restaurants I have been to.

How does Seattle help you do what you do/influence your work?

Seattle has a population interested in nature, the earth, and conservation. Many of these people love to grow, propagate and cultivate plants. My ability to grow my business is basically a call from the population of what they want.

What’s an unpopular opinion you have about the city? 

As inclusive as some pockets of Seattle feel, I wish we had an emphasis on Seattle being a city of kindness, community support, and inclusion as a whole.

What’s a project you’re working on (big or small) and how can our readers help you with it? 

The biggest project I am involved in currently is the Northwest Flower & Garden Festival at the Seattle Convention Center from February 15 to 19! I traveled last October and November to form strategic alliances with plant growers in other countries and up my game to provide for the plantophiles of Seattle, supplying them with rare plants from around the world. I hope I do them justice with this festival. Since I returned from Thailand and Indonesia, almost all of my energy has been spent on creating the biggest booth in the Plant Market at the festival. I have been working with my team and their team to create an experience that is all plants, similar to my store.

What are you looking forward to this year?

The main thing as of yet is the Northwest Flower & Garden Festival. After we complete that, I will be heading back to Thailand for the world’s largest Collector Plant Exposition, Lana Plant Expo in Chiang Mai. I am also looking forward to taking my partner, John Tseng, to Ecuador. John is the whole story of the Peace, Love, and Happiness Club. It is basically his collection and his passion. I am just the guy who is trying to take his passion and make it possible for him to practice all the time.

John started bringing plants into what was our fashion store about 7 or 8 years ago. I watched the plant sales increase and kept allocating more and more space for plants and discontinuing other merchandise. When COVID hit, we already had our website for the existing store and were selling plants online – mainly John’s collection of rarities. We thought we were going to lose our business and be out of money in weeks, but the public stepped in and our sales goal for the month was done only in plants. The next month, I donated all of the fashion apparel and gifts to Goodwill, moving our business entirely to plants. We have not looked back! We feel really privileged to work for our collectors. One of our major suppliers gave us a really great compliment recently. He had been to Florida for a big wholesale plant show and visited many local farms. Upon returning, he said that John’s quality of plants is far superior. I am humbled. We go to work every day and do our best to give the people what they want. When an industry leader compliments you in this way, it’s very moving, and for a person with low self-esteem, it kind of validated all our hard work. I am pressed every day to get up and do the best for our collectors.

Follow Minding the Gap on social media at the links above or learn more about their work at wearemindingthegap.org.

By The Evergrey Creative Studio
The Evergrey Creative Studio helps clients big and small engage locals, through campaigns that use creative marketing, storytelling, events, and activations to build community, conversation, and impact.