Friday, March 27, 2009

Meet Madison's Eco-tailers

Our Going Green EXPO is fast approaching—on May 2-3. According to event materials, the "Going Green Wisconsin EXPO is the premier green lifestyle show in the state. The event showcases diverse local and national green businesses..." For more information visit

I wrote an article for the EXPO's program on Eco-tailers. Read on!

(Photos: left: Fair Indigo. Right: Kristin Wild, owner of Atticus)


Want to know where to shop in the city that’s got green goods in the bag? Interested in introducing baby to organic? Maybe you want to clothe yourself in sustainability. Read on for where you can find eco-friendly, organic, sustainable and more in the city.

18 N. Carroll St. 204-9001.

Although the main focus of the business isn’t “green” per se, owner Kristin Wild weaves in green items in her store’s repertoire. Opened in 2008, Wild has sought out lines that are primarily exclusive at her shop—some of which are designer diffusion lines, like Kerrigan and Loomstate.

Green practices:
Using reclaimed items as d├ęcor for the shop adds a homey, lived-in feel to the place. Wild’s next-door neighbor, John Taylor, lends Wild items from his expansive antique/resale shop. Shopping bags are reusable and made out of non-woven polypropylene.

Product picks:
Handbags include Seabags, totes made out of recycled sails, and Ashley Watson’s recycled-leather handbags: “Ashley Watson is great, she goes to vintage stores and finds old leather coats and makes them into handbags; it makes each one special,” says Wild. Clothing includes Trove organic cotton basics with fun details and Loomstate’s graphic T-shirts and organic cotton denim for men and women. “A lot of times eco-friendly lines are made in the U.S., which is important to me,” notes Wild.

Hip to Bamboo

Want to feel clothed in softness? Look no further than Hip to Bamboo’s comfy knits, designed by a yoga instructor.

Green practices:
Bamboo is sustainable and able to grow three to five feet in a day. This tropical grass also grows pesticide and fertilizer free, saving tons of pollutants from entering the earth.

Product picks:
In addition to being soft, bamboo is perfect to wear for working out since it has antimicrobial properties and lets skin breathe. The array of tanks, lounge pants, leggings, T-shirts and even a bubble tunic top allow wearers to sport the looks for breaking a sweat, running errands or even going to dinner.

5621 Odana Rd. Ste A. 251-4905.

Green living might be hot right now, but Satara, Madison’s natural and organic home and baby bedding store, has long been ahead of the curve. Open since 1995, Satara’s previous incarnation, Home Environment on Henry Street downtown, peddled products like recycled glass tiles, organic clothing and even paint.

Green practices:
The entire store has been outfitted with eco-friendly materials: paint, recycled carpeting and high efficiency lighting. Fixtures are made of eco-friendly materials, like Dakota Burl and wood from sustainably-managed forests.

Product picks:
Baby and parents can sleep easy on organic cotton/wool mattresses or natural latex mattresses, both of which are naturally flame-retardant. Super soft wood fiber, organic cotton and bamboo sheets make any bed spa-worthy. Satara’s also got organic wool and cotton baby clothing and crib bedding, too. Other picks include baby toys and bath and body products for baby and parents.

Fair Indigo
570 N. Midvale Blvd. 661-7662.

Fair Indigo’s original mission was to find and use garment workers from all over the world and pay them fair wages for their work and verify they work in good conditions. The retailer has been able to expand their assortment to include more eco-friendly items like bamboo clothing, organic denim, organic baby clothing and fleeces made out of recycled plastic.

Green practices:
Their headquarters in Madison is pretty bare-bones aesthetically and is furnished with used office furnishings (“We call our dry-erase boards ‘gray boards’ because they’re used,” jokes president Rob Behnke). Shipping cartons are given to Just Coffee, a fair-trade coffee roaster in town, which they use to ship their coffee. “We don’t even have a Dumpster for our cardboard since we reuse all of the cartons,” notes Behnke.

Product picks:
Check out soft bamboo polos and scoop-neck sweaters for women or their brand-new reusable bamboo shopping bags. Organic items for women include knit dresses and even a trendy skinny-fit jean. For men look for organic denim and tees. Baby gets the cutest items of all: hand-knit, colorful sweaters and bibs with animals on them; “Joobles,” soft, fair-trade, organic toys made with eco-friendly dyes, and organic cotton crib sheets.

2701 Monroe St. 233-4438.

SERRV’s goals include “alleviating poverty and empowering low-income people through trade, training and other forms of capacity building as they work to improve their lives.” The Monroe Street storefront (the other location is in New Windsor, Md.) gives Madisonians the opportunity to purchase handmade gifts, specialty foods and accessories from far-flung reaches like Bangladesh, Madagascar and Chile.

Green practices:
“One of the seven principles of fair trade is you want to engage in environmentally sustainable practices, which is why, for example, you won’t see ebony or mahogany used in fair trade products because they’re very slow growing woods—you’ll see bamboo,” says Susan Sheldon, manager at SERRV. “Or items [will be made] so that the artisans don’t have to strip the whole tree to make it.” She points out a fair amount of items are made with recycled materials and the fair trade coffee they sell is shade-grown, which means land is not cleared to grow the crop. That prevents deforestation and protects birds’ habitats.

Product picks:
Sample the shop’s Divine Chocolate bars, dark chocolate made in Africa that is, well, divine; eye up the dazzling bowls made out of rolled magazines, or try on the cuff bracelets made out of safety pins and beads. Sheldon says their selection of recycled products has tripled in the last year: things like wallets made out of rice bags, handbags made out of used saris and art made out of old oil drums showcase the artisans’ talent and their painstaking work.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Why We Should Shop Locally

One of our account managers here at the magazine (thanks, Connie!) shared this interesting website with me called the 3/50 project. This project encourages shoppers to stop by three local retailers throughout the month and spend $50. Read more, courtesy of

3: What three independently owned businesses would you miss if they disappeared? Stop in. Say hello. Pick up something that brings a smile. Your purchases are what keeps those businesses around.

50: If half the employed population spent $50 each month in locally owned independent businesses, it would generate more than $42.6 billion in revenue. Imagine the positive impact if 3/4 the employed population did that.

68: For every $100 spent in locally owned independent stores, $68 returns to the community through taxes, payroll and other expenditures. If you spend that in a national chain, ony $43 stays here. Spend it online and nothing comes home.

1: The number of people it takes the start the

I signed up to support the "Pick 3. Spend 50. Save your local economy" idea.

For more information visit:

Thursday, March 19, 2009


A while back I was informed by a blog reader and friend that my blog content was being posted on another blog, without any attribution to me. Simply put, the blogger was copying content straight from my blog and posting it on theirs as if it was written by them. Not cool!

It’s odd because the site traces back to a Bangladesh online shopping website, so most of my blog content doesn’t even pertain to the blogger anyway … since they’re not from Madison, Wis. I would post the link, but then that would send readers to this person’s site, and they don’t deserve the readership if they’re stealing content anyway :)

I’ve been told that dishonest bloggers can do this to direct traffic to their site, since the blog they’re stealing from already has steady followers. Anyway, there is not much we can do about it besides take down every single post they’ve taken, and re-post it. As such, I don’t feel that’s a good solution since then my old content will be re-posted as though I posted it today ... and some of the content this blogger has stolen is from past events and whatnot.

Sad. But I wanted to keep you all in the loop in my frustration on this :)

Shopping Events

Bad dog frida photo contest
Where: bad dog frida, 2094 Atwood Ave.
Details: Back by popular demand—bring in a pic of your fave furry friend and owners Carmen and Sue will post your photo in the shop’s window! Customers can then vote for their favorite photo. Votes will be counted and winners notified May 10. Turn in photos for consideration by March 31. (Pick up a cute doggie rain jacket like Geordie's sporting from bad dog frida, above!)
More info: 442-6868.

Lady Moxie Stiumlus Package II

Where: Lady Moxie, 6706 Odana Rd.
Details: The first three shoppers who spend $100 or more at the store will get a gift certificate for a free facial or waxing from Le Spa. The offer’s valid on March 20, 21 and 24, so stop in!
More info: 826-4268

Maxwell Street Days In March
Where: Fanny Garver Gallery, 230 State St.
Details: A longtime Best of Madison winner, Fanny Garver Gallery has always been known for fantastical blown glass, chic jewelry and gorgeous paintings. Here’s your chance to own some of these items at thirty percent up to fifty percent off. Sale goes through March 30. Also check out the gallery’s revamped website.
More info: 256-6755.

MMoCA glass sale
Where: Madison Museum of Contemporary Art Store, 227 State St.
Details: Fifteen percent off selected glass items including salt and pepper shakers by Gazelle Glass, vases, bowls and paperweights by The Glass Eye, Alex Brand, John Pomp, Jamie Harris and Pizzichillo & Gordon. Through March 31.
More info: 257-3222.

Prom Dress Bonanza
Where: HospiceCare Thrift Store, 122 Junction Rd.
Details: OK, I added the “Bonanza” part above—but the Thrift Store has over one hundred prom dresses in stock priced under twenty dollars. Yes, that’s $20 and, yes, that’s a bonanza.
More info: 833-4556


Another shout-out goes to Coni Marotz who owns Iconi Interiors. Marotz is celebrating her one-year anniversary tonight with special sales and deals. I first wrote about her store in our June 2008 issue and have stopped back many times since—she’s always got something new. My favorite items (as I’ve written about on this blog before) are most definitely the vintage jewelry pieces she hangs from jewelry trees and displays in the glass cases up front. I adore (and drool over) the chunky strands of baubles, hefty cocktail rings and statement bracelets that take up a few inches of wrist real estate. In my opinion, Iconi would fit right in in a chic Chicago neighborhood, or perhaps on a laid-back San Francisco street—and yet, we’re lucky to have her shop right here on West Washington Avenue.
(I loooove Coni's display of her vintage barware and her vintage framed wallpapers, below).
Iconi, 534 W. Washington Ave. 441-0077.

Anthology celebrated their year anniversary last Saturday, March 14.
Owners Laura and Sachi Komai already held festivities, but you can still stop in to check out all of their new items like recycled bottle-cap necklaces, vintage-inspired charm bracelet kits, stickers, books and much more. If you haven’t been to Anthology it’s one of those shops that you can easily walk in and spend under $10 if your wallet’s tight—or more if you’ve got it! I personally favor their decorative papers, cards and jewelry.
(A rack of Anthology's decorative papers and a display in the shop).
, 218 State St. 204-2644.

A Favorite Green Product

You know those green products that can be very expensive and therefore difficult for many people to afford (I’m talking to you, designer silk dresses and organic mattresses)? Well, Ecotools are definitely not one of them. With prices from $1.99 to $12.99 it’s almost silly not to check these out. And I’m championing them because, yes, I use them! These makeup brushes are made of recycled stainless steel and aluminum, crushed walnuts, soybean oil and bamboo. The brushes and sets are stored in resusable pouches and printed with nontoxic ink. Ecotools are sold at Walgreens, ShopKo and Target (May 2009). (Shown is the bamboo five piece brush set)