Melissa Zenz is the owner of Kid Bean. It is just her working there now, but that will be changing later this year when she moves the business and hires a few employees. Melissa incorporated the business in 2001 and relocated from Pompano Beach, FL in March 2006
"We researched relocations options for over a year and chose Asheville for a combination of appealing factors, including: lower crime rate, incredible ethnic/political/artistic diversity, large and supportive homeschooling community, abundant access to fresh/local/organic foods, numerous alternative healthcare providers, veg-friendly restaurants & markets, more suitable climate (having lived in both OH and in South FL, we prefer seasonal changes but temperatures that don't go too extreme in either direction) ,and, of course, the amazing natural beauty that surrounds all of Asheville. We spend as much time as possible near waterfalls, in the woods, on mountains, and in/near the water.
In addition to those reasons mentioned above, I love street musicians performing downtown, the plethora of free/low-cost/family-friendly events, that the city is large enough to offer an array of cultural and artistic activities but small enough to still feel like a small town, that I can drive 60 minutes or less in any direction and be in a fairly secluded natural setting for hiking/canoeing/wading, that I see black bears in my front yard even though I live in the city limits, that vegan and gluten-free foods are readily available in many restaurants and markets and that even non-veg restaurants here know what "vegan" means, and that I can see mountains all around me!
I apply the same principles and standards for ethics and environmental sustainability in both my business, KidBean, and in my personal life. For all the reasons mentioned above, Asheville is the ideal place for me to operate my deep green business and to live my dark green lifestyle. KidBean.com serves as a highly-refined filter for green baby products to help parents get beyond the hype to find the safest, truly eco-friendly, and labor-friendly options. Many other stores sell "green" products but no one else asks as many questions as we do nor has as high of standards as we do. *Link to the Play Kitchen.
My attorney, Thomas Beckett, has been indispensable, providing assistance with our relocation from FL to NC, advice on contracts and other legal issues, and networking. Pam Lewis from Advantage West has been wonderfully supportive and has helped us make mutually beneficial connections with other businesses. I also love Asheville Green Drinks—I always learn something new and make meaningful connections.
Self-Help Credit Union was a lifesaver in the fall of 2008 when they granted us a loan just as the market was declining. Julie Duriga, CPA, and Michael Hudkins, CPA, have been exceptionally supportive and have provided amazing service so I can focus on running my business instead of doing my taxes. Bill and Beth Johnson at The UPS Store in East Asheville have also been vital, providing fax and copy services as well as shipping assistance when we need it.
The top 3 products we offer and/or sell are organic toddler pillows, organic cotton baby and children's clothing, and wooden toys."
KidBean.com is the 2010 winner of the SafBaby Ethical & Environmentally-Conscious Retailer Green Award, a CarbonFund certified CarbonFree Partner, and has been a member of Green America since 2004. You can connect with KidBean.com on Facebook (KidBean), Twitter (KidBean), and LinkedIn (Melissa Zenz).
Embarrassing Travel Moment of the Month
Back in October 2010, we introduced a feature we called Embarrassing Travel Moment of the Month. While we intended to post a story every month, we have obvio...