A young, eager college student with a dream of one day owning her own store turned her dream into a reality at a very young age. Rachel Lessne, owner of Green Envy eco-boutique, used the knowledge she had acquired from the University of Rhode Island to open her store in 2008, just one year after graduating. Today, the store is still going strong and doing good for the world.

Name: Rachel Lessne

Role: Owner, Green Envy

CollegeFashionista: What is the overall concept of the store?

Rachel Lessne: It is a store that allows customers to feel good about every single purchase. Everything is handmade either by local artists or by fair trade women’s cooperatives in disadvantaged countries. Every customer knows where his or her money is going. Even with the skincare products, you don’t have to worry about checking labels because we’ve already done the research to make sure it’s as good for your health and the environment as possible, and that goes for all the other products in the store as well.

CF: What was your inspiration to start the store?

RL: I always knew I wanted my own business. I always gravitated to toward natural products. When I was studying Textiles, Merchandising/Design at the University of Rhode Island, we studied organic cotton. I had never heard of organic cotton before and that sparked something. I began researching organic cotton on my own and that led into learning about natural products, recycling and fair trade. I became interested in buying all my gifts that way but there was no place to find gifts like that, and that is how I was inspired to start the store.

CF: What are the products that you’re most proud of in the store.

RL: I love the products in the store that are both recycled and fair trade. One of the products in particular is the Mmofra Trom bracelets. The children that make the bracelets go to the Mmofra Trom Institute and have started a foundation called Project Bead. The adults in the village in Ghana crush down glass bottles and are fired into beads. The kids in the school without AIDS string the beads and make them into bracelets, and all the proceeds of the bracelets go towards the education and the healthcare of the AIDS orphans in the Mmofra Trom school. The story is so amazing and it’s helping so many deserving people in addition to being a recycled product. It just doesn’t get any better than that.

Learn More: For unique gifts and to support many good causes worldwide, be sure to visit Green Envy at 8 Franklin Street in Newport, Rhode Island and check out the website.