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7 QB Community Members Doing Green Business

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Going green in business may be trendy, but it’s also smart. Research shows that consumers will pay more for eco-branded products and creative entrepreneurs are taking note. In fact, quite a few of our QB Community members have businesses that are friendly to the environment!

Here are seven self-employed folks who prove that sustainability is both good for the planet, as well as their bottom lines.



Andrew Wickens - Lower Park Hats

When he was 27 years old, Andrew Wickens hopped down from Northern California to Mexico to learn Spanish. Five years later, he returned to San Francisco as a bone fide entrepreneur. His business? Designing and making hats. Not just any hats, mind you -- Andrew roams the world looking for eye-catching fabrics that reflect their native culture. Today, Andrew’s internationally-sourced Lower Park Hats are a fair-trade favorite at markets and festivals around the United States and abroad.

Hats Off to Andrew Wickens and His Globally Inspired, Ethically-Sourced Caps



Chuck Homan - Certified Green Home Builder

Alaskan Chuck Homan has been remodeling and building homes for four decades in the Last Frontier -- a place where materials can be hard to come by and energy bills go sky-high in the winter. The differences between building then and now are many, especially when it comes to environmental awareness. He told us that building sustainably is becoming the industry norm because it makes good use of resources, cuts down on frequent remodels and amps up the comfort level. 

 Alaskan Home Builder Chuck Homan Builds Sustainably Because it Makes Cents



Hanna Broer - Hanna Broer Design

Vermont-based designer, Hanna Broer, is a one-woman operation -- from design to sewing to shipping orders. She got her professional start as a seamstress for a designer in Montreal but she always knew she wanted her own line. She made herself some underwear one day and the rest is history! Hanna works in her third-floor sewing studio (atop a village grocer and a tattoo parlor) making lingerie, loungewear and swimwear all from sustainable and/or recyclable materials. 

Hanna Broer’s Handmade Lingerie is Eco-Sexy



Jennie Nigrosh - The Green Garmento

Reusable dry cleaning bag company, The Green Garmento, was born when Jennie had it up to *here* with all the plastic dry cleaning bags cluttering her closet. She invented a reusable one that’s used in over 1000 dry-cleaning chains and by hoteliers across 25 countries. Thanks to Jennie's reusable dry cleaning bag that also triples as a hamper and a duffle, Jennie aims to cut single-use plastic bag waste by a whopping 300 million pounds per year.

Reducing Dry Cleaning Waste is Jennie Nigrosh's Bag



Karla McNeil-Rueda - Cru Chocolate

Karla McNeil-Rueda grew up in Honduras where her family farmed and cultivated cacao beans. She was fascinated from a young age by chocolate's historical, cultural and agricultural significance -- and its exquisite flavor. Karla founded Cru Chocolate in California using cacao from family farms in Honduras, Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic. Today, Karla focuses on building sustainable trade practices with farmers, and supporting Central American small business women.

Making Bean-to-Bar Chocolate Connects Karla McNeil-Rueda to Home



Thea Villasenor - Thea’s Vintage Living & Estate Sales

The mission behind Thea Villaseñor's business is finding a new home for beloved objects -- not throwing away beautiful things just because they’re old or used. The daughter of two antique dealers, Thea opened her own antique store in 2006. The retail world has changed dramatically in the last decade, and, recently, Thea decided to change her business model. Instead of running a brick-and-mortar antique retail business, she is shifting her focus to estate sales, re-homing beloved things one household at a time.

Thea Villaseñor Is Ditching Retail and Taking a New Approach to Old Things




Travis Troyer - Basik Candle Co.

When Travis moved to California, he needed a career change. He’d spent ten years in corporate America and he was ready to be in control of his own future – and his own business. He took some creative classes at a local studio and fell in love with making coconut wax candles. In remarkably short order, Travis launched the Basik Candle Co., proudly offering luxury candles that are also environmentally conscious by using coconut wax, 100%-cotton wicks and skin-safe, phthalate-free fragrances.

Travis Troyer Ditched His 9-5 for an Entirely Different Ball of Wax: Hand-Crafted, Luxury Candles



Before you go

QB Community members, would you pay a little more for sustainably-produced products? What are your favorite “green” products that you regularly use?

Level 5

@Anonymous @Jennie @HannaB Thanks again for sharing the story of your businesses with us!

Level 6

I definitely want to buy products that don't hurt the environment. I purchase eco-friendly products for my home and am willing to pay more to know that they are not toxic to me or my family. I'm also very willing to pay more for healthier products for my kiddos - like wood toys instead of plastic. I especially love purchasing products made by local, small businesses so that I know they benefit my community too. Love these stories!

Level 7

Awesome stories, all - happy Earth Day!!

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