Alumni Profiles

Selling Naturally
A trio of alums launch a store with a green conscience

REAL GREEN: A store filled with earth-friendly goods has been opened in Concord, N.H., by (from left) Deborah deMoulpied '77, '81G, Jonathan Gregory '07 and Lisa Johns Eshelman '75.

Growing up in Durham, Deborah deMoulpied '77 spent a lot of time working in the hardware store owned by her father, the late David deMoulpied '34. So two years ago when she noticed that green products for the home were being sold online by West Coast sites, she thought, "This is cool! We need these things in New Hampshire!" and set out to open a store.

The result—Real Green Goods in downtown Concord, N.H.—offers more than 500 earth-friendly, sustainable or recycled high-quality products that range from bamboo shirts to water-saving showerheads, Peruvian alpaca finger puppets to stationery made of Sri Lankan (odor-free) elephant dung. The products are sold in the store and online.

Working side by side with deMoulpied are two other UNH graduates—Lisa Johns Eshelman '76 and Jonathan Gregory '07. Eshelman and deMoulpied were roommates in college. "I'm a born-again 'Green,' but Lisa was the original Earth Mother at UNH," recalls deMoulpied. Eshelman also had 15 years of retail experience and, like deMoulpied, was ready for a change after raising her children. Gregory got involved when he was asked to write a business plan for Real Green Goods as part of his coursework at the Whittemore School of Business and Economics. He was already a passionate environmentalist, fueled by a natural history course with Bill Mautz, professor of natural resources, in his sophomore year. When Gregory graduated, he moved to Concord to join the partnership.

"Our first priority is the impact on the environment," says deMoulpied of their philosophy. "The second priority is social responsibility." The owners carefully investigate not only every product but all of their 400 suppliers. Sometimes, however, it's not possible to do both at the same time. For instance, almost all energy-saving light bulbs come from China, which is notorious for its poor working conditions. "I had to decide which was more important, the light bulb or worrying about factory conditions," deMoulpied admits. "I decided it was more important to get the CO2 consumption down."

But the social history of many products also is important. There are quilts of recycled saris crafted by women rescued from India's sex slave trade and paper beads fashioned by a Concord-based cooperative of Congolese immigrant women organized by deMoulpied and Eshelman. The three have also organized Green Concord, a collective of eight green businesses, with the goal of making the city a mecca of green shopping. Other businesses, ranging from acupuncturists to automobile services, are petitioning to join. It may be the beginning, the three business partners hope, of a green Renaissance in the heart of New Hampshire.

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