Reno is the last place Samantha Stremmel thought she’d move. But her husband, Sutter Stremmel, whom she met at Montana State University, felt otherwise. A fifth-generation Nevadan, Sutter has deep ties to the state, and most of his family still lives in town. After Sutter wooed Samantha south, the two started hatching a plan to work together. They scored big when they found a piece of property for sale in a mixed residential and industrial neighborhood along the Truckee River. It was a two-for-one—a home plus a nursery specializing in water plants and pond supplies. Samantha had worked at a nursery in high school and figured owning one would be easy. “Needless to say, that’s pretty far from the truth,” she says. Sutter: “I couldn’t and wouldn’t want to start another business without Sam.” (Reba, one of three shop spaniels, poses at their feet.)
Opening Sierra Water Gardens in 2010, the couple hustled to make their business work. They kept the nursery open daily to not miss a sale. Sutter’s mother brought food over because the two had abandoned cooking. They tended to the plants and wrestled with the lack of privacy—every customer was in their backyard.