Mom” adores getting to know women entrepreneurs who have started their own unique, planet-friendly company! Future:Standard is no exception – Jessica Althoff, the founder behind this exciting new company launched in 2011, is a passion-driven woman! Her passion for the planet and deep respect for the world around us is evident in every choice she makes in not only her business, but her day-to-day life.

An Interview with Jessica Althoff, Founder of Future:Standard

Tell us about your eco-inspired company!

We are an online ethical clothing boutique that carries only items that are made with respect to the planet and the people making them. Everything is made using sustainable materials and practices, made in the US, Canada or in socially responsible factories. We also only carry things that we love and are excited about wearing.

How do you choose to go green in your own life?

I do my best to make the best environmental decisions all the time. I like to get my food from local sources when possible. I use a lot of chemical-free cleaners in my house (vinegar and baking soda are great). I try to be paper free, but if I must, I only print on the back of old mail or line sheets. I am converting all of my cosmetics to greener cosmetics (it is a process, and might take a while, but I am excited about my new things). I make buying decisions based on packaging all of the time. I am trying to start an herb garden, but while my lifestyle is green, my thumb is not, so we will see!

Guilty green pleasure?

Honestly, if it is green, I don’t feel guilty about it! But, I love all things lavender, so anything that smells like lavender. Also, I love skin care products, so I might go a little overboard there!

Can you offer any encouraging words for those with a small sustainable business?

Just do it and don’t worry about the things that you don’t know. You will never know everything, but it doesn’t matter (and it is scary). Either you’ll figure it out or someone will help you. People love helping small business owners, everyone has an opinion and an answer, you just have to ask. There is someone in your network that knows the answer somewhere. I send out a “does anyone know anyone who…..” email about once a week. I always get something great back.

*Image provided by Future:Standard.*

We have to admit, we were just so impressed by Claire Gutschow, the classy entrepreneur behind Fie’d Skin Care, an eco-fabulous company that is sweeping the nation! Her commitment to the earth, her passion for naturally beautiful skin, and her desire to make a difference – wow, what a combination! “Mom” had the distinct pleasure of asking Claire a few questions about her up and coming skin care line, which was recently launched in 2010. For more information about Fie’d, please visit www.feidskincare.com. (PS Claire, please share that homemade lemon meringue pie recipe! Yum!)
An Interview with Claire Gutschow, Founder of Fei’d Skin Care
Tell us about your eco-inspired company!
I’m from South Africa, and I spent my whole life in the sun. So I have dark marks all over my face. Being pregnant with my son didn’t help matters – I was one big blotch with no pregnancy glow in sight! I tried loads of products, but nothing worked. Since I’d worked in the skin care industry in my “past life” (i.e. pre-kids), I knew I could make a better product than all the ones I’d tried. I was still in touch with a couple of the best formulators in the world, so I was super-lucky. It also helped that my husband is a traditional Chinese healer. He knows some of the most respected traditional Chinese herbalists in the US. So once I’d found the right people, it was just a matter of getting them to work together. (Which was a lot easier than I thought – easier than managing a toddler play-date and WAY easier than coordinating a block party.) Not that I’ve ever coordinated anything as complicated as a block party. In fact, I have yet to discover domestication of any kind. I can work a microwave though. Does that count?

How do you choose to go green in your own life?

For years I followed the experts’ advice and tried to be “perfectly” green. But their suggestions were often way too complicated. So these days I just try and use common sense. We recycle. We buy used clothing for my son (they grow out of everything so quickly anyway). We avoid plastic bags like the plague and we try to buy local when we can. And we walk instead of drive wherever possible – it helps the planet and it tires out my son so it’s a win/win scenario!

And of course, Fei’d is as green as we could possibly make it. We do no animal testing, ever. Fei’d is 99% natural, certified by the Natural Products Association, biodegradable, and sourced from renewable resources. Our carton is 100% recycled, FSC certified, made with 100% renewable energy, Green Seal Certified and processed chlorine-free.
Guilty green pleasure?
Homemade lemon meringue pie made from the lemons in our garden. Although I have to be honest, I don’t feel TOO guilty. The way I see it, it’s a great way to get my daily allowance of vitamin C!
Can you offer any encouraging words for those with a small sustainable business?
Be prepared to pay more for EVERYTHING when you make the commitment to be green. I couldn’t believe the cost of our cartons the first time I received the quote! Recycled board is just so much more expensive. But I have to have faith that it’s worth it. In my mind, it’s a karma thing. I want to look back at my life when I’m old and believe that I made a difference. Even if it has affected my “bottom line”!
*Image provided by Fei’d.*

Offering the benefits of acupressure in the comfort of your own home, or truly anywhere, the eco-fabulous and portable Spoonk ™ Acupressure Massage Mat is such a unique product! Designed by Natasha Frykman, this mat tucks away conveniently at home and packs up neatly for stress relief on-the-go. Natasha took a few minutes out of her busy day to answer some questions about the Spoonk ™ Acupressure Massage Mat and her planet-friendly company for Tiny Green Mom.

An Interview with Natasha Frykman, Founder of Spoonk Space

Tell us About Your Eco-Inspired Company!

Spoonk Space’s mission is to provide high quality, effective solutions for a natural way to alleviate stress-related problems. The company is committed to using eco-friendly manufacturing solutions as much as possible and educating consumers about natural choices to promote health and wellness. The Spoonk ECO acupressure massage mat is our first product to incorporate all of above, made from GOTS certified organic hemp, non toxic ABS plastic and eco foam that is free from toxic of-gassing chemicals. Spoonk mats are made locally in the USA and have been a sensation at all consumer and tradeshows that we have participated in.

Our mat is gaining increasing popularity and appreciation from people of all walks of life that have been helped by its application. From sleeping better and easier to aiding with pain relief of all kinds, we are helping people and that is what makes us happy!

How Do You Choose To Go Green in Your Own Life?

I am committed to only purchasing food that is organically grown and supporting other companies who aspire to make the world a greener place. I also cook my four children’s food from scratch. We do not own a TV and we have only one car. Our plan is to buy a land with few other families where we can grow organic food so that we may have food of better quality and price.

Guilty Green Pleasure?

I love indulging in a good, hot cup of organic coffee with rice milk.

Can You Offer Any Encouraging Words for Those With a Small Sustainable Business?

Don’t give up. It’s marathon, not a sprint—time is on your side!

*Image provided by Spoonk Space.*

Touted as the “break-out snack food of the 21st Century,” Organic Popping Sorghum, by Just Poppin Popcorn, is simply fascinating! The creators behind Just Poppin Popcorn, who produce the finest Organic Popping Sorghum available, took a minute out of their day (when they weren’t popping corn or sorghum, of course!) to answer some questions for Tiny Green Mom.

An Interview with Buck & Jennie Smolow, Founders of Just Poppin Popcorn

Tell us about your eco-inspired company!

Founded in 2007, Just Poppin wasn’t exactly eco-inspired. However it is eco-influenced. What I mean by that is that we reduce waste in every way possible. We use recycled, recyclable, reusable, and biodegradable packaging and shipping materials – much of which has received Cradle to Cradle Certification. Our popcorn and other products are non-GMO – not genetically modified. We’re incredibly excited and proud of our newest product – Organic Popping Sorghum. It is a naturally eco-friendly crop which is sustainable, and organically grown and harvested.

How do you choose to go green in your own life?

Like many people, we do what we can within our means. So while we don’t have solar power for instance, we do recycle (what is not recycled by trash collection we take to recycle stations). We collect condensation water from our A/C to water plants, fill the bird bath or wash outside things and we installed a 1/2 flush system on our toilet. We use reusable steel water bottles, a high efficiency front load washer and dryer, CFL bulbs, reusable shopping bags, and we compost in our worm farm.

Can you offer any encouraging words for those with a small sustainable business?

Try to find the time to learn about things to help you to be more efficient and sustainable and implement those things if possible into your life and business.

*Image provided by Just Poppin Popcorn.*

Imagine – cereal, your way! That is exactly what Hajo Engelke aimed to deliver when starting Custom Choice Cereal in 2009. Spurred on by a friend who suffered from severe gluten intolerance, Hajo has now created a company that lets you custom-make your own fabulous gluten-free cereal, which is then delivered right to your door! With over 2.5 billion combinations, we think you will find something that suits your unique taste and needs!

An Interview with Hajo Engelke, Founder of Custom Choice Cereal

Tell us about your eco-inspired company!

Inspired by a gluten-intolerant friend’s frustration with the limited breakfast options available to him, I started Custom Choice Cereal. It is my mission to make living gluten-free a fun & enjoyable experience. What better way than to start with breakfast as the most important meal of the day? Since tastes are different, we let everyone create their personal gluten-free cereal online. Over 2.5 billion combinations and an automatically updating nutrition label ensure that taste and dietary needs are met. All cereal is mixed from the highest quality ingredients in our dedicated gluten-free facility and shipped conveniently to the customers’ doorstep.

How do you choose to go green in your own life?

All of our custom cereal comes in a re-sealable stand-up bag that we package in sturdy cardboard boxes made from recycled material for shipping. For my own cereal, I save the box and thus reduce the waste I create. At the company, we have recently replaced all light bulbs with energy efficient ones and of course, we recycle all of our trash.

My life has also been influenced significantly by growing up in Germany. As a result, it is completely normal for me to recycle paper, cans and plastics and compost natural waste. In addition, my parents always told us to switch off lights (and here also fans) when we leave a room, so that’s become a natural behavior for me as well. I also run any errand I can on my bicycle. Some people here in the South look at me funny when I tell them that I go grocery shopping with a big bag on my bike but I really enjoy it; I don’t have to worry about parking, it helps me to stay fit, and I help to keep the environment clean. A nice side effect of taking my big bag is that it allows me to avoid having to use any plastic bags for my groceries.

Guilty green pleasure?

It actually is a pleasure for me that I can interpret traffic laws a little bit more “flexible” when I am riding my bike. I am extremely pleased when I roll past the cars during rush hour 🙂 Besides that, I am a sucker for locally raised organic meats and vegetables from the farmer’s market. They are a little bit more expensive but I am convinced that my body will thank me in the long term for feeding it well. It also simply tastes better.

Can you offer any encouraging words for those with a small sustainable business?

If you are passionate about what you do and believe in it, you can definitely do it. Persistence will always eventually pay off! Along the way there will definitely be some tough times, and a few people will also ask you why you put yourself through the difficulty of starting your own business instead of following the path of least resistance.

However, people who haven’t experienced it themselves cannot understand the truly overwhelming feeling of knowing that you are doing something good, even if it might just be on a tiny scale. Because quite a few of Custom Choice Cereal’s customers suffer from celiac disease or are intolerant to gluten, they haven’t been able to enjoy a variety of tasty gluten-free cereals for quite some time. They are literally close to tears and thank us for what we do. Receiving an email or call from such a happy customer is one of the best feelings in the world and definitely makes up for the frustrating and stressful times of running a small sustainable business.

Bruce Yacko, the dedicated founder behind JAWS International, Ltd., took the time out of running his environmentally-friendly company to answer a few questions for Tiny Green Mom. His commitment to the environment is evident in the end product of the 4 JAWS cleaners, with which you will find simply fabulous for cleaning your home!

An Interview with Bruce Yacko, Founder of JAWS International, Ltd.

Tell us about your eco-inspired company!

JAWS International, Ltd. is a technology company committed to protecting the environment and making innovative products to that end. We created and market JAWS® (Just Add Water™ System), a patented cleaning system designed to reduce the environmental impact of packaging used in conventional spray cleaning products. While reducing plastic waste and the landfills that result, we’re able to offer high performance, highly economical cleaners. JAWS delivers ultra-concentrated, eco-sensitive and highly biodegradable cleaning chemistry in patented refill cartridges for use with reusable bottles and sprayers. JAWS is a simple, effective solution that gives everyone the chance to care for their home and take care of the planet.

How do you choose to go green in your own life?

I buy local, which can have a tremendous impact on our environment and transportation costs. And I recycle, reduce and reuse plastic whenever possible. With landfills closing at a rate of one per day, eventually, where are we going to put it? Lastly, I continue to invest my personal finances in JAWS with hopes that it helps us all become better stewards of the world’s resources.

Guilty green pleasure?

I started growing fruits, vegetables and herbs a few years ago and working in the garden has become one of my favorite things to do.

Can you offer any encouraging words for those with a small sustainable business?

Running a business in today’s climate requires tremendous focus, courage and passion. Having a talented and committed group of people who share your undying vision is essential. Additionally, a healthy fear of failing along with believing what we’re doing is important helps keep me motivated.

*Image provided by JAWS International, Ltd.

If you haven’t yet tried one of Dr. Laura Trice’s scrumptious creations, run, don’t walk to the nearest health food store to indulge yourself today! This inspiring, dynamic woman took the time out of her super busy day to answer a few questions for Tiny Green Mom about running her small, eco-friendly business, called Laura’s Wholesome Junk Food, which was founded in 2001.

An Interview with Dr. Laura Trice of Laura’s Wholesome Junk Food

Tell us about your eco-inspired company!

I was a vegan for three years in medical school and learned about how eating more plant products is good for the body and environment. I realized I didn’t LOVE any of the vegan cookies out there and wanted to provide a vegan cookie line that was decadent and delicious enough for everyone to enjoy, vegan or non-vegan. I found a wonderful group of people who are committed to health who work with the company to make the most delicious moist, vegan cookies out there.

How do you choose to go green in your own life?

I shop at the farmer’s market, cook at home and rarely get take out, avoiding unnecessary plastic and containers. I ride my bike to the bank and post office when possible instead of driving. I buy filtered water in jugs at the store, rarely buy bottled water, and avoid plastic.

Guilty green pleasure?

Vegan Bliss Mint Galactica Chocolate Chip ice-cream. Made with coconut milk and sweetened with agave. Plus, my vegan cookies!

Can you offer any encouraging words for those with a small sustainable business?

I had to work multiple jobs while it took two years to sell my first cookie. I had people say, “You still haven’t made any money doing that?” I had so many discouraging obstacles that appeared that I didn’t know how I would overcome. Money was tight and success of any kind appeared so far away. I couldn’t find a bakery for 2 years, I felt afraid of sales, and I had difficulty being decisive. So, keep the faith and believe in your idea and passion. Stay balanced. Go for a walk, stay fit mentally and physically. Being committed required a good night’s rest and healthy lifestyle.

Katy & Philip Leakey, founders of The Leakey Collection, took a minute to share their compelling story and answer a few questions about The Leakey Collection and their work in Kenya.

Founded in 2002, The Leakey Collection is eco-chic jewelry that is designed and handmade by the Maasai in Kenya, specifically designed for an active lifestyle. Their work includes the design and manufacture of contemporary jewelry that is handmade by the Maasai women and men of Kenya from environmentally-friendly and sustainable materials. Katy and Philip literally live and breathe their work – choosing to live among the Maasai tribe.

An Interview with the Founders of The Leakey Collection

Tell us about your eco-inspired company!

There is nothing like “making something from nothing”, as Philip says. Not only is it gratifying to take a stalk of dried grass and turn it into the colorful, elegant jewelry Zulugrass™ that all women love to wear but to know that in designing such a piece you are also ensuring the survival of the wetlands is exciting! In every product we design we start with what is available in nature around us and wonder what we can create that will help ensure its preservation.

How do you choose to go green in your own life?

Philip and I live in tents in the Kenyan bush among the Maasai. We grow our own food, keep chickens and bring water from the river for bathing. We recycle all plastics and save everything, even empty toilet rolls, which become very handy candle makers. We have even used old newspapers to make a boat!

Guilty green pleasure?
Green tea! But I don’t feel too guilty. Somewhere out there are tea farmers who need to make a living and although we can get caught up in worrying about all the habit lost to farming we must balance as best we can.

Can you offer any encouraging words for those with a small sustainable business?
SLEEP WELL! You are doing the right thing!

*Image provided by The Leakey Collection.*

For those who are perfecting their yoga practice, YogaForce offers a patented A-Line Mat to help guide you into each pose with ease. Created by Annie Appleby, this innovative mat is also earth-friendly! Annie took a minute to graciously answer a few questions for Tiny Green Mom about her environmentally-conscious company and deep love for yoga.

An Interview with Annie Appleby, Founder of YogaForce

Tell us about your eco-inspired company!

YogaForce was founded first with lifestyle clothes then with the patented A-Line Mat with sustainability and the environment in mind. We make the finest products, they might cost a bit more but they are worth every penny because of the quality of workmanship. Body awareness is important, and we consistently call that out. It follows that awareness for the Planet is top of mind, as well. YogaForce is unisex, we realize that men and women both need to be in good shape, and our patented mat helps to get them there. It works for all floor exercise! It is doctor-approved. Great for kids, too, as they get to know where they should place their hands and feet because the lines work as a guide.

How do you choose to go green in your own life?

I live in the San Francisco Bay Area, so when I go to the grocery store, I have been mindful to bring my own empty bag with me. I hate to see all those paper and plastic bags to go waste! I always keep it in the car now so I do not forget.

Guilty green pleasure?

My green pleasure is that I love to teach yoga, Pilates and my own A-Line posture classes outside!

Can you offer any encouraging words for those with a small sustainable business?

Keep at it and persevere.

*Image provided by YogaForce.*

Mom” was recently introduced to Amafruits, delicious, Brazilian-style açaí, which is power-packed with antioxidants! She had the distinct pleasure of interviewing the dynamic duo behind Amafruits, Brandon and Rebeca Hovey, and learn a bit more about this sustainable company.

An Interview with the Creators of Amafruits

Tell us about your eco-inspired company!

Amafruits was established to bring authentic Brazilian-style açaí to our friends and family. True nutritional power and the premium flavor of our hand-picked, wild-grown açaí are delivered straight to you from the Amazon in convenient frozen packs. Each Amafruits açaí pack helps preserve a piece of our treasured Amazon Rainforest, “the lungs of our planet,” by contributing to fair trade practices that provide the economic incentive to those in the Amazon to protect the native environment for sustainable harvesting instead of clear-cutting rainforest for the value of wood or other destructive land uses such as soy & cattle farming.

How do you choose to go green in your own life?

We avoid bottled water and instead choose re-usable water containers where possible; we avoid GMOs in our food and buy organic where logically it makes sense; we support local & sustainable farmers; we recycle paper, glass, cans, and plastic packaging in our home and office; and we purchase recyclable office supplies including compostable sampling cups & spoons.

Guilty green pleasure?

Fair-trade dark chocolate – we love it.

Can you offer any encouraging words for those with a small sustainable business?

If you combine a positive focus with hard work, you will find lots of opportunities for success. And, remember to enjoy the journey.

For more information on Amafruits, please visit www.amafruits.com.