Last week I discovered my new favorite island store when I went to meet with Anastasia Vysotskaya-Ricker, owner of Tellus eco shop. I walked in and my eye was immediately drawn to a sparkling handbag that looked like it was made out of chainmail. On further inspection I realized that it wasn’t chainmail at all, but pull tabs from beer and soda cans intricately woven together by hand! A prime example of how one person’s trash is someone else’s treasure, and part of the idea behind Tellus.
Ana grew up in Belarus, where simple and organic was a way of living. Instead of throwing things away, they were repaired or reused; and food was fresh from the source. It was a very agriculture-oriented life, and she helped her family raise the cows and grow the produce they would later eat. When she first came to America in 2003 it was a surprise to her to see the amount of chemicals and artificial ingredients in the food available, and being unaware of its origin she decided to switch to a mainly vegan diet.
The concept of the store is going back to those roots in Belarus, to bring eco-friendly products to the island and introduce people to a more thoughtful way of purchasing goods for themselves and their homes. Everything in the store is organic, recycled, fair trade, repurposed, sustainable, or biodegradable. Products have been carefully chosen by Anastasia and range from organic soaps, chemical-free lotions, vegan handbags, organic cotton clothing, jewelry, recycled glass cups and vases, to larger home decor items, and more!
On first glance you would never know that the cute handbag on the shelf is made out of recycled inner tubes, or the bracelet in the window was once a beer can. Each item has a story and an artist behind it. I picked up a birthday card for my nephew that was handmade in the Phillipines and signed by the artist, and that purchase will help better the life of the woman who made it. The face wash I bought supports the Woman2Woman Project, helping women from around the world escape extreme poverty and trafficking. I needed to send a birthday card and was out of face wash, but left the store feeling good that my purchases were helping others as well.