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Rising Stars: Meet Gabriella Sanders

Today we’d like to introduce you to Gabriella Sanders.

Hi Gabriella, we’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
I love recycling, well honestly, I’m obsessed with living a daily Zero Waste lifestyle. Becoming a mother and creating my home showed me how unaware I was of how much waste my house produced. I had no idea the damage I was doing. Over my families toddler years, I discovered and learned how easy it was to change my families life habits for the greater good. Recycling became so easy once I took the time to research. I found I had this overwhelming passion to share my experiences and my friends actually listened. I saw that I had a voice, that I was making a difference. With my superpower as a saleswoman and my extreme passion, I began my own Zero Waste Shop.

Green Utopia KC, Zero Waste Shop is six years old. First a brick and mortar shop (2014-2015), online shop (2014-present), mobile boutique (vintage camper 2016-2020), pop-up shop (shopping events, local shops around KC) inside the Gathering Place (2020-2021).

Greener Life Market was my first shop. She was located in downtown Lee’s Summit. I did well but soon discovered I had made a mistake on shop space, I didn’t need all that space. While I was transitioning into a smaller location, my bank account was hacked and robbed by a local newspaper accounting department. After this event came to a close, I was able to pick myself up and begin again. This time I went with a mobile shop, Green Utopia KC. I built a cute vintage camper, shop on wheels. Sales were then at festivals, craft show, or just a pop-up event at a local business. I was able to build my brand over this three years stretch. When covid arrived, personally I was ready to be back working in a stable place. A mobile shop is hard work and not always profitable. Although I did well, I was exhausted.

Throughout the covid pandemic, I’ve been searching my ideal space to rent. For a short time, I did a pop up shop in a local shop, hoping to create a future partnership. I soon discovered this was no place for me and my mission. As a shop owner, I believe we should lead by example, my customers should feel safe and welcomed.

This mid-July, I am finally open my own shop. Brookside will now be my community. I can’t wait. There will be all kinds of awesome extras! Recycling Classes! Teracycle bins, plus Ripple bins, KC Can, ScrapsKC! This is the next stage of life for me. I’ve been a stay at home mom for 17 years, now I’m making my own way in the retail world and just hope every day I can make a small amount of difference.

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way. Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
No, it’s been horrible! Creating a different, new lifestyle retail shop is hard work. There is a lot of just explaining to do. I have to convince you to change your life habits. That’s not an easy task. Money is another struggle. In retail, there aren’t any exciting grants given, there are no loans, no wants to invest in retail. What did I do? I’ve worked a second job. I babysit, I drive for other parents, I do anything to bring in a little extra cash for my shop.

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work?
My shop is a piece of art. The design of my camper shop was so cool! The new shop, I have made some recycled art display pieces that are eye-catching. I love creating pieces with recycled materials. Flowers from records, or just safety sign with a beautiful painting…

What quality or characteristic do you feel is most important to your success?
Honesty, Customer Service, Happiness, Kindness.


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Contact Info:

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  • Instagram: Greenutopiakc
  • Facebook: GreenutopiaKC

Image Credits

Gabriella Sanders

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1 Comment

  1. Kim

    June 30, 2021 at 3:51 pm

    Good interview. Will love to visit this shop.

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