Joi Sears opens up The Green Store at People’s Liberty in the Globefront on Friday, June 16, complete with living walls and eco-friendly products. As she prepares to share her project with Cincinnati, we thought we’d share a little bit about Joi and her journey with you.
What inspired you to do this project?
This idea originally came to mind some years ago. I was offered a fellowship with the DO School traveled to Germany to design a sustainable retail store. It was called "The Green Store" challenge, and fellows would work together for ten weeks to develop sustainable retail solutions.
I never made it to Hamburg to participate in this program due to visa issues. It was probably one of the lowest points in my life, and I wanted to give up.
I continued to explore my passion for sustainability and applied for the fellowship again the following year. This time, fellows would be working to design sustainable packaging solutions. I was accepted and spent an amazing summer in Germany exploring eco-fashion and the role that sustainability plays in each aspect of the supply chain.
Through my research, I came to discover that although many millennials say that they care about the environment, few of us actually put our money where our mouth is when it comes to shopping sustainably. Primary reasons for this are:
- Price. "Only rich people can afford sustainable fashion."
- Style. "It's only for granola eating hipsters: people who wear hemp dresses with socks and sandals.
- Accessibility. "It's just not available in the places I typically shop."
- Education. "What the heck is eco-fashion anyway, and why should I care?"
As I continued to explore this problem, I brainstormed different potential solutions. The three ideas at the top of my list were a sustainable retail store, my own eco-fashion brand and a social network for sustainable living. In a way, The Green Store is a combination of all three.
What was your reaction when you received the news that you'd been awarded the Globe Grant? This grant only goes to 3 people per year.
I was absolutely ecstatic. I am passionate about creative placemaking and finding interesting ways to activate a space.
I've always lived by the idea of "Give me a dope space and I will fill it." The fact that the Globe Grant not only gave me access to the space, but also the funding and support to bring my project to life put me over the moon.
How do you implement green living in your daily life? Where would you advise others who are looking to lessen their carbon footprint to begin?
I'm really on a mission to give people simple, easy, and accessible ways to live a more sustainable lifestyle. It could really be as simple as carrying your own reusable water bottle or shopping bag, composting your kitchen scraps or buying products from only sustainable/ethical brands.
Come to The Green Store and find out! The Green Store is not just a place to shop, but a place to come and learn. We will host a variety of interactive workshops and events; it's about building community, exploring possibilities for innovation and creating a lasting impact.
The Green Store is an ephemeral project lasting six weeks. What other kind of work do you do?
I am a college professor. I teach a course on Creativity and Innovation for first year business students at the University of Miami, Oxford (Farmer School of Business). I'm also an entrepreneur in my spare time.
What are you looking forward to most during your time at The Globe?
I'm really looking forward to seeing what the space looks like once everything is in place. I've visualized it in my mind for quite some time so it's going to be awesome to see it in real life. I'm also looking forward to the events.
What sort of events can we look forward to at The Green Store?
There are quite a few fun, engaging, interactive events on the calendar from workshops and panel discussions to yoga and Sunday Fundays. There's a water balloon fight to raise money for clean water projects and an ABC Party which invites guests to get creative and wear "Anything But Clothes."
I'm also really excited that I get to celebrate my 32nd Earth Day at the Green Store–– there will be a full week of events, including a "Bad Brains" Hackathon and Green Fashion Week party.
Any advice for the dreamers and doers who want to put a project into action?
Start with something you are absolutely passionate about. If you struggle with this question, ask yourself: "What would I do even if I didn't get paid for it?"
Think of a problem, something you want to fix, change or do better. Brainstorm a bunch of ideas on how you might solve it–– literally hundreds of ideas. Choose the ideas that scare you and that would push the world (your life or your community) forward in a major way.
Prototype different ideas. Try things on for size. See what works. Fail fast. Whatever you do, don't be afraid to fail. When you find the right thing you'll know. Then, give it 110%.
Celebrate The Green Store’s Soft Opening at People’s Liberty on Friday, June 16 from 6pm–9pm.