Ever stop to look—really look—at how much trash you and your household produces? It can be a five-alarm wake-up call.
It definitely was for Deanna Taylor-Heacock. Looking for alternatives to so much disposable stuff but not finding nearly enough to change the way she lived, Deanna opened Good Bottle Refill Shop, the first bulk home care store of its kind in the state of New Jersey, this past fall. You can bring your own container and stock up on everything from essential oil-scented dish soap to laundry detergent, bath salts to toothpaste powder, all designed with a “zero waste” mindset and an elevated aesthetic.
Find out how this former Bare Necessities buyer saw a problem and solved it herself in a way that’s as good for the planet as it is for business.
Q: What did you do at Bare Necessities, and how did you get from here to opening Good Bottle?
A: I was the buyer for bras, and I loved every minute of it. I took some time off to be with my kids and in that time, I thought of the idea for Good Bottle. We opened in the middle of September, and it has been so well received.
“I was sick of going through so much plastic, and I wanted a better option”
Q: What is your mission?
A: Our mission is to reduce single-use household items. I was going through so much single-use plastic in my home when I discovered the zero-waste lifestyle. That’s when I started to find sustainable items so I could eliminate the plastic from my life and reduce our waste. I opened Good Bottle because I was sick of going through so much plastic for my cleaning products, and I wanted a better option.
Q: What drives you?
A: I’m driven by the facts. There’s so much information now about how bad plastic is for us and how our oceans are filled with it. I’m inspired by the next generation. There are so many kids coming to our shop dragging their parents, showing them our products and telling them how to refill bottles.
Q: What did it take to enter into a whole new business model for the state? How did you know you could be the one to do it?
A: Starting Good Bottle has been my biggest risk to date. I’m still questioning if I’m the one to do it, and I’m still figuring everything out! I spent so much time in the research phase, making sure I had the best products and the most curated assortment. Once I found the space, though, it all came together pretty easily.
Q: What does it take to be your own boss?
A: I haven’t done this for very long, but I would say discipline is key. You have to be vigilant with your schedule, making sure you plan your time appropriately and hold yourself accountable.
Q: How do you balance running a new business with life and family?
A: Setting up the shop and all the work that went into opening it was actually easy. I would work when I could. When the kids were in camp or school, I was busy at the shop. It’s been a bit more difficult since the shop opened. Working on weekends has been hard, but I want to be in the shop as much as possible to talk with customers and see what they like and what they don’t. Once I feel like it’s a well-oiled machine, I will hire help.
“I knew if I was going to take time away from my kids, it had to be worth my while”
Q: What challenges have you had to overcome, and how’d you do it?
A: The biggest challenge was finding a space for Good Bottle. I searched for storefronts, and the rents were astronomical. I knew if I was going to take time away from my kids, it had to be worth my while. With such a new business model, I didn’t want my expenses to be so high. This is when I met with Amy Howlett and Deborah Engel, who own the General Store Cooperative Marketplace & Cafe. They told me about their plans to create a retail environment catering to local entrepreneurs. I knew this was my chance to make Good Bottle happen. It’s the most perfect space for us, and I love working with the other businesses. This model also helps me have more free time with my kids because we all share the workload and cover for each other when needed.
Q: What’s a typical day like?
A: We open at 10, so it’s nice to be able to take my kids to school and get things done at home before I head to work at 9:30. I typically work on the computer for 20 minutes before we open, doing re-orders and emails. Then I’m with the customers, walking them through the process and helping them with their filling. There hasn’t been much downtime but when there is, I’m restocking and making sure the pumps are clean and bottles are available. After we close, I do some recaps, review sales and clean and sterilize the shop.
Q: What can we all do to be more environmentally conscious? How do we compel our politicians and business leaders to do their part, too?
A: Start with a trash audit. I know it sounds gross, but if you just look and see what you’re throwing away, you can make the changes you need. For us, I realized we were using too many paper towels and napkins; I switched to cloth to cut down. I also think people should look at how long they use these so-called disposable items. Think about the fact that Ziploc bags are used once for a few hours but will last forever in a landfill. While I think it’s important to write to the political leaders and voice your concerns, I feel like using your wallet will make the biggest difference. Spend the money on sustainable items so the companies making single-use items will actually make changes.
“Now that I know the impact of my everyday actions, I can’t unlearn it”
Q: What are your goals for the shop?
A: First, I’m looking into local delivery service. Second, I would like to create our own brand to sell and, after that, expand to more locations. Finally, I’m doing this because it’s important for the next generation, which will have to deal with the consequences of what all this plastic is doing to the planet. I spent years not caring about what my everyday actions were adding up to, but now that I know the impact, I can’t unlearn it. Everyone can do something to reduce the amount they throw in the trash.
THE WORLD ACCORDING TO DEANNA
Favorite bra: My favorite brand is Chantelle. I love their C Essential T-Shirt Bra and all of their fashion lace bras. They’re so beautiful and fit perfectly. I also love PJ Harlow for sleepwear. The styles are super sophisticated and comfy.
Your favorite product: Sapadilla handsoap in Rosemary & Peppermint.
Best way to de-stress: Sounds basic but watching TV with my husband.
Role model: Julia Child.
Proudest moment: Anytime someone tells me a good story about my kids.
Secret talent: I sing. I was a voice major in college before switching to merchandising.
Favorite app: Find My Friends. I love seeing when my husband will be home so we can go out on the porch and greet him.
Most useful emoji: The eye roll.
Happy place: Pensacola Beach.
Mood-boosting song: Anything Beyoncé.
Perfect day must contain: Great food, wine and music.
In a word: Curious.