Championing sustainability with first-rate, handmade, local goods
By Julie Auton
Along Atlanta’s “Magnificent Mile” in Midtown — named for the upscale condos, hotels, restaurants and stores — lies Eco Denizen, a unique boutique selling distinctive gifts and home décor that are “better for you, better for the planet.”
“We strive to procure high-quality products that are handcrafted, recycled, repurposed and local,” says Gene Cox, co-owner with his wife, Xiorelis, an architect.
The “right” ingredients
Another distinguishing mark of product they endorse is if it’s made from “pure” materials and limited ingredients. All items go through a vetting process, which has established Eco Denizen as a trusted source among store guests.
Products that pass scrutiny possess the following characteristics:
- express a level of sophistication
- feature exquisite packaging
- convey a story about what inspired its design
- elicit an “aha!” or “gee whiz” reaction because of a different look or one-of-a-kind attribute
- contain superior components
- attract positive online reviews
- derive from local, or regional or American-made sources
- are educational and creative
“We reward great ideas with our business,” Cox says.
The “right” products
Eco Denizen reflects a growing trend indicating that consumers are veering away from a cookie-cutter, mass merchandise approach and embracing quality objects that are individual and personalized, made locally and carry a story. “Our bestsellers teach us that our customers want: better materials, beautiful packaging and highly giftable,” says Cox.
Price points vary wildly, ranging from a ten-dollar journal to a stylish chandelier costing hundreds. But customer service remains equal, regardless of the purchase amount.
The “right” services
While custom giftwrap for purchases is free, a small charge is levied for gift boxes, with a portion going to support sustainable organizations.
Their “better for the planet” platform also opens opportunities to align with organizations and contribute to causes they value. For Valentine’s Day, for example, Cox teamed with the Junior League of Atlanta to raise money to help fight human trafficking.
“We’re open to possibilities of ways to partner with others to promote the environment, the community and good causes,” says Cox. “Our business is important to us, and we hope for a little bit of good to come out of it.”