Washington Evening Journal
111 North Marion Avenue
Washington, IA 52353
FAIRFIELD – In just six years, the business Hazel and Grey has gone from occupying one rack at Fairfield True Value to its own downtown shop.
The business’s owner, Jenn Rich, said she sells “all things needed to make a home.”
“I joke that I specialize in all the ‘B’ things: brushes, brooms, baskets, blankets, and beeswax,” she said. “I have goods for cleaning, laundry, and cooking, as well as baby and children’s items.”
It all began in 2016 when Rich began selling home décor items at Fairfield True Value. She called it a “store within a store,” and by 2018 she was branding her products as Hazel and Grey. Rich was able to find retail space on the west side of the Fairfield square, and by July 1, she had opened her store on the first floor of the Fairfield Elks building.
“I decided to move up to the square because I love the atmosphere that our square has,” Rich said. “I felt like I was hidden inside True Value. So many people would tell me they had no idea I existed. I think that being on the square will bring so much more visibility to my shop and I look forward to participating in all the events that take place on the square.”
One of Rich’s motivations to start the business was a desire to offer eco-conscious products.
“It was actually one of the reasons I liked the Fairfield community when I moved here 10 years ago,” Rich said. “However in 2019, when I was pregnant with my son, I really started learning about and understanding the effects that the products we buy every day have on our health and our planet.”
Rich said she no longer felt right selling one knick-knack after another that would be out of style within a year.
“Plus, these items are hardly ever ethically made or meant to last,” she said. “So, I started changing what I was selling and the business evolved to what it is today: goods that are simple, useful, beautiful, and sustainable.”
Rich still sells home décor, but she’s found over the years that when it comes to decorations, less is more.
“You don’t really need a ton of things to decorate your home,” she said. “If you choose beautiful, quality-made everyday items, they can also double as décor.”
Some of Rich’s top selling items include bulk incense, which is sold by the stick, wool dryer balls, bamboo mason jar lids, and eucalyptus shower steamers. She mentioned that her bulk section is among the store’s unique features, since it allows customers to bring in their own bottles and refill them with cleaners, soaps and hair products, saving them from going into the landfill.
Rich said small choices like that, being able to reuse bottles, is something everyone can do to help the environment.
“I want to see my children and maybe someday, grandchildren grow up on a beautiful, healthy planet,” she said. “We all need to start making changes now. Whether someone is completely new to sustainability or a zero-waste pro, I can help guide and educate them on things we can all do to help. I’m not here to sell you something, just for the sake of selling. But if you’re in need of something for your home, I can help you find a quality piece that will last for many years. I want to encourage people to really slow down and find joy in the simple things.”
Rich said she puts a lot of thought and research into all the products she offers. The questions she asks herself before offering it include:
“Where was the product made? The closer to home the better, although I do source some products from overseas, such as Swedish or German made cleaning brushes.
“Who made the products and were they paid a fair wage? Most of my products come from small businesses, a lot of which are women-owned.
“What is the product made of? Natural materials like wood, cotton, linen, glass
“How will the products be shipped? Plastic-free or minimal plastic and I reuse almost all packing material.
“What will happen to the product at the end of its useful life? Can it be reused? Composted?”
Rich said the thing she enjoys most about running her own business is the ability to express her creativity through her work and build a business that she is proud of. Her biggest challenge is that she runs the business alone, which means running the shop, ordering and merchandising goods, taking care of the paperwork, social media and advertising.
“It’s a lot to manage!” Rich said.
Check out Hazel and Grey at its new location at 54 S. Main St. in Fairfield.
Call Andy Hallman at 641-575-0135 or email him at email@example.com