Gifts for ourselves, and for the planet in Montclair (Robin’s Nest)
By ROBIN WOODS
For Montclair Local
In this installment of "Robin's Nest," Robin checks out Mind Your Beads and Seeds (online at mindyourbeadsandseeds.com) and the Good Bottle Refill Shop (goodbottlerefillshop.com)
Mind Your Beads and Seeds
Some people are late bloomers, and some burst into business ventures at a young age, like Nia West-Williams. At age 28, Nia opened Mind Your Beads and Seeds, 147D Valley Road, on April 3.
This strip of stores is seeing a renaissance of new businesses opening up month by month, including Mystic Lobster Roll Co., slated to open in July. I’ll take a big bite out of that in a future column.
I don’t know about you, but the name of the shop made me wonder exactly what is sold there. Nia’s business partner is her mother, Sonjii West, who came up with the catchy name and works with her daughter each weekend.
A jewelry maker at heart, Nia was laid off from her job at a law firm in 2020. “Boredom caused me to create waist décor with stretch cord and beads. Waist décor is popular in many cultures, and all orders are custom-made,” she said.
I never thought of adorning my waist, as it’s something I usually don’t care to accent, but I can understand how svelte beauties could carry off this fashion statement. Nia uses sea beads, glass beads and natural stone beads on stretch cord to make one-of-a-kind bracelets as well. Each bead has a special meaning or significance. Tiger eye protects against negativity, black beads connote power and protection, blue stands for royalty, and red provides love, passion and confidence.
If jewelry is not your thing, Mind Your Beads and Seeds sells houseplants and succulents, which Nia calls “no-clue plants” for those lacking a green thumb. Air plants just about take care of themselves. You can bring your houseplants in for repotting as you pick out new homes for your aloe or peperomia from the pottery collection in the shop. Housewares, handbags, book bags, glassware, incense and crystals are also in stock to treat yourself, or for gifting.
It’s a bright, sunny place that looks and smells like a summer garden. Nia said, “I’m a people person, happy and helpful. This is a one-stop shop, relaxed and with good vibes only.”
I’ll certainly keep that in mind.
Good Bottle Refill Shop
Like many of us, I diligently recycle glass and paper items used in my home. It wasn’t until I met Deanna Taylor-Heacock, owner of Good Bottle Refill Shop, 179 Glenridge Ave., that I realized just how much unnecessary waste my household produces.
Deanna said, “Only 8% of plastic bottles get recycled. Plastic never degrades. It lives forever. This was an ‘Aha!’ moment for me. I’m dedicated to reusing instead of throwing away. There are so many products that exist in better form, made from the earth and go back to the earth.”
Good Bottle is helping me to be more mindful of an alternate way to replenish dishwashing liquid, hand soap and laundry detergent. I was skeptical about the concept of zero waste, and the amount of work it takes to change the way I shop and consume. It’s a slow process, but I understand the importance of making the transition.
Deanna’s first shop is located in Maplewood, and many Montclair residents chose to drive there to purchase some of the 70 items sold in the shop. On April 2 Good Bottle opened its doors in town, selling housewares, silicone bags, cling wrap alternatives, aluminum and glass bottles, personal care items and more sustainable household cleaning products.
When I asked her how she sourced her products, Deanna said, “I was a stay-at-home mom, spending more money than when I was working. I wanted a place to refill with nontoxic items. I spent a lot of time researching companies and products to sell in the shop. I needed to source brands that take back big containers. Refill shops are a lot of work.”
Let Deanna do the work for you.
You can bring in your own bottles or containers to refill over and over, or buy environmentally conscious goods. Fragrance-free or scented essential oils are options, lavender and lime for me. Citrus is also a popular scent. I have to admit that I couldn’t keep my hands off the nonpaper towels, which come in beautiful colors and prints and are helping me reduce some of my household’s over-consumption. I drew the line at considering reusable Q-tips. It’s a concept that I can’t wrap my head around, even though the cotton tips are easily washed. Baby steps in my journey.
The staff at Good Bottle is very welcoming and helps customers with whatever they need, showing them around the shop. Julia and Erin offered me testers to choose product scents, and I spent a lot of time exploring goods that I’ve never seen before. It’s one small thing you can do, for the greater good.
Robin Woods is a local girl-about-town, writing about activities, stores, restaurants and interesting people that catch her eye. She’s written memoirs and personal essays, as well as music and fashion columns for various New York City newspapers. Her writing awards include the Shirley Chisholm Award for Journalism and the Director’s Award for the Essex County Legacies Essay contest. She’s always on the lookout for story ideas.
An earlier version of this post misquoted Deanna Taylor-Heacock describing what percentage of bottles get recycled.