This article is posted on the university’s newspaper site, but I forgot to mention that Green Envy’s products are very affordable–there’s jewelry made from recyclable materials starting at $1! I greatly enjoyed speaking with Rachel Lessne and hope that Green Envy Eco Boutique continues to make a buzz in Newport.
Shopping Downtown: Green Envy Eco Boutique, Sustainable Style a Short Walk from Starbucks
With a large array of stores in downtown Newport, it’s easy to find stylish clothing and jewelry that’s chic, smart, and affordable. On the other hand, it’s hard to find fashion that is surely ethically produced and environmentally friendly.
For five years, Green Envy Eco Boutique has offered organic and Fair Trade jewelry, clothing, beauty, and more to the Newport community. Green Envy recently settled into a new location on Franklin Street by the post office, a few minutes down the street from Starbucks. Since its relocation, Green Envy has been very busy hosting exciting store events. On November 2nd, the boutique had a ribbon cutting ceremony co-hosted with the Newport Chamber of Commerce. The following day, Green Envy held a grand re-opening ceremony.
With a larger space, the boutique can better display products made by Rhode Island artisans or Fair Trade cooperatives. Some brands available at Green Envy include Synergy, Klean Kanteen, Soy Candles by Phebes, Yarok, Farmaesthetics.
The award-winning boutique has been recognized by several organizations, including “Best Eco-Friendly Clothes & Gifts” in 2009 by RI Monthly; “Best New Business” in 2010 and “Best Local Gifts” in 2012 by Newport Life Magazine; and “Best Green Items” in 2011 by Providence Phoenix.
Rachel Lessne, the owner of Green Envy, always knew she wanted to have her own business, but never knew what it would be.
During her junior year at the University of Rhode Island, studying Textiles, Merchandising, Fashion Design and Business, a professor mentioned organic cotton in a textiles science course. Although it was briefly touched on in class, Lessne claimed that the mention of organic cotton “sparked something” and inspired her to do some research. She wanted to know what made organic cotton different and why it was considered better than conventional cotton. Lessne’s research also led to learning about recycling, Fair Trade, natural skincare, and other sustainable products and practices.
Lessne became enthusiastic to buy more sustainable products, especially as gifts, but had trouble finding stores that offered organic and Fair Trade products. If “green” products were available, there would only be a small section towards the back of the store. Lessne found there were no stores where “you could just shop, buy anything, and feel good about whatever you’re buying.”
It is clear that Lessne, a positive and upbeat young entrepreneur, is dedicated to making ethical and eco-conscious, yet quality, well-made products available in the Newport community. Lessne admits that she did not think that she would start a business as soon as she did, but she happily expressed how she looks forward to going to work at Green Envy every day.
As a business owner, Lessne feels great supporting disadvantaged people from global cooperatives and giving back to the community.
“Mostly, the products that I sell change not only the environment, but they change the lives of the person who made it” by having the proceeds return to the cooperative that benefits the disadvantage artisans. Bracelets made of recycled material from flip-flops, crafted by a cooperative of African women, are just one example of the products sold at her boutique.
“You can’t not be happy about helping someone like that.”
To learn more about Green Envy Eco Boutique, please ‘like’ their Facebook page, ‘follow’ them on Twitter, and browse their website.
Green Envy Eco Boutique
8 Franklin Street
Newport, RI 02840