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Meet Thea Merritt of Eco Now in Costa Mesa, Orange County

Today we’d like to introduce you to Thea Merritt.

Thea, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I’ve been practicing a low waste, zero waste lifestyle for many years now. Although many people would compliment my lifestyle, not many people would adopt the same habits. I had an ah-ha moment about two years ago when I realized that people were likely not adopting the same habits because they did not know where to start. I wanted to be their starting point. I wanted to educate and provide resources for people in my community to help them along their path of living with less waste.

I began by hand-sewing and making sustainable alternatives in my home and bringing them to local farmers’ markets. Immediately, I met so many people that were not only seeking these goods, but were seeking a conversation on sustainable living and its importance. Farmers’ Markets turned into local pop-up events at festivals, and that turned into a shop at The LAB in Costa Mesa, CA. We have been in our new store for less than two months, and it is going well. People love that we hand-make some of our products and they love that they can reduce on packaging by bringing their own containers to fill-up on home cleaning and hygiene essentials; all as a way to reduce their waste and any negative impact on the environment.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
I would have to say it hasn’t been smooth. The one thing I have been struggling with most is, now that I have a business, I have to start back at step one to be zero waste again. When I was just living my life before Eco Now, it was a lot easier to avoid unnecessary waste, but with a business, and dealing with numerous vendors, its been difficult to translate. Everything I had to do to become zero waste in my personal life, I now have to do for my business and it is a work in progress. At the end of the day, my philosophy and perspective is that we are taking the burden of waste off of the consumers, and we are properly handling any unnecessary waste we come to deal with; which is truly the opposite of most companies.

Most companies leave the consumer to deal with the unnecessary packaging and hard to dispose of materials. We take on that burden and do our best to ensure that our customers do not have to deal with any waste.

Eco Now – what should we know? What do you do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
Eco Now is Orange County’s first Zero Waste Shop & Refill Station. Our mission is to help consumers make sustainable choices. We strive to educate others and provide locally sourced, handmade, and eco-friendly goods to reduce waste.

I named the business Eco Now not because of immediacy, which I believe many people think it means, but because of awareness. I want people to be present and in the now when they are consuming.

I am the owner and founder of Eco Now, and as a small business owner you can probably guess that I am a little bit of everything. I hand sew products that we offer in the store, I research and source other products, I work in the store part-time, and I manage all other back end aspects such as finances and managing our website.

I am most proud of our pop-up events. We have a storefront, but we also still attend many farmers markets and events in Orange County; which is my favorite part of the job. I never have a bad time at a pop-up. I meet wonderful people, and I get to be a part of a community that is focused on supporting small and local businesses. I mean, I even met Nikki, the person that connected us, while we were both working at a farmers market.

I think what makes us different is that we are the first shop focused on sustainable living in Orange County and we hand-sew our own products.

What is “success” or “successful” for you?
Success to me is more of a feeling than anything. When I started this business, I was searching for purpose, I was searching for calmness, and clarity, I believe success is just that. Success is when you feel good about what you do and when you work hard, not because you have to, but because you want to.

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