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Meet Kelly Murphy of The Refillery L.A.

Today we’d like to introduce you to Kelly Murphy.

Kelly, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
In 2017, feeling unfilled with my corporate job, I resigned and took off to travel for a few months. While abroad, I experienced amazing natural beauty, but even in the most remote locations, plastic pollution was always present. Sometimes it was as small as an errant water bottle, but other times it was a beach covered in garbage or a vacuum cleaner sitting on the reef at the bottom of the ocean. These images stuck with me and I knew that I wanted to make changes beyond the reusable shopping bags and water bottles I was already using.

When I returned home, I immediately started to implement changes in my life to reduce my personal waste. Quickly, I discovered that this was not a trivial task. Consumer household goods such as shampoo, dish soap, and detergent all come in plastic containers. Then, I recalled the bulk stores I had stumbled across while traveling that allow you to bring your own container to refill everything from shampoo to laundry detergent. I searched for something similar, but I struggled to find a store like this in my neighborhood.

Eventually, I decided to look into opening my own refill store. With a limited budget and retail space in L.A. being some of the most expensive in the country, a traditional store was out of the question. Then, my boyfriend suggested a brilliant idea. Why not convert his surf van into a refill store? Being mobile would allow me to service a larger area while keeping startup costs low. Not only that but, I could also make house calls to residences and businesses.

After a couple of months of build-out and prep, The Refillery L.A. became the first mobile refill station in the US. We are in Mar Vista every Sunday and regularly pop-up at events on the West Side. Based on feedback from customers, I’m regularly adding new bulk products and zero waste items that are both good for people and the planet. The business is evolving every week, and I’m excited to see where this journey will lead as we reduce plastic pollution one refill at a time.

Has it been a smooth road?
Starting any business is always a challenge, but being a mobile business adds its own set of unique problems. For starters, determining which permits are required and obtaining them from their respective local offices has taken some time. Nearly every week I encounter new opportunities in different locations that may require a special permit. Navigating this process has been tricky.

Also, being a mobile business doesn’t have the constant physical presence of a permanent store, so I work hard to maintain an online presence and try to remain consistent with regular locations. It’s definitely a building process, and it’s exciting to see my efforts starting to make a difference. I have to say that the road hasn’t been smooth, but I’m enjoying the journey and where I’m heading!

We’d love to hear more about your business.
The Refillery L.A. is a mobile refill station offering eco-friendly household goods in bulk for refilling. We encourage customers to bring their own containers and reuse them to reduce waste.

Common household products such as shampoo, conditioner, body lotion, hand soap, dish soap, laundry detergent, vinegar, baking soda and more are available for refill, and more products are frequently added to our selection. In addition to refills, we also carry a variety of zero waste items such as bamboo toothbrushes, coconut scrub brushes, and reusable shopping totes.

We are the first mobile refill station in the U.S. and regularly make house calls and appearances at local events in addition to having regular locations each week.

Is our city a good place to do what you do?
Los Angeles is a great place to start an eco-friendly business. In general, I feel that people here are quite eco-conscious and are open to trying new things to help the environment. The only drawback is that rent is very expensive; that’s why we built The Refillery L.A. in a van!

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Lawrence Lee

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