Four generations removed from one of the founders of the F.W. Woolworth “five and dime” retail chain, I never dreamed that one day I would find myself launching my own online store. I didn’t major in marketing or merchandising or business. I had zero interest in carrying on the family tradition. I simply wanted to gather all the great eco-products I was discovering, and make them available on one site to anyone interested in adopting a green lifestyle. The store and the Almanac are merely an extension of my real passion – which is healthy living and respecting the earth. My nature-loving roots, however, are incredibly legible and were there from the very beginning.
Although I was born in New York City, I was raised in the south of France where my mother grew up. My grandparents lived near the charming village of St. Paul de Vence, in a classic French farmhouse with a red-tiled roof, outdoor cistern, and a huge fig tree in the garden. The overall atmosphere was one of warmth, simple pleasures, and a direct, hands-on relationship to nature. The lifestyle in the French countryside has always made best use of local resources in the home and the garden. We composted, brought our own baskets to the market, and bought only what was in season. Hardly anything was wasted and my grandparents taught me the feeling of satisfaction and the value of performing the simple tasks that would keep the home and garden clean, tidy, highly functional and productive.
Summer trips back to the U.S. influenced me in a different way. Every year I’d spend two months on the family property in the lake region of Maine. It was there I developed an appreciation for the essence of New England aesthetics and simpler lifestyle. Sitting on the front porch, I could look out across the fields to the lake, a view that never failed to captivate me. More importantly, Maine taught me an almost religious reverence for nature. As a young girl I loved to collect wildflower seeds, watch dragonflies dance and search for visual treasures that could only be revealed by a walk through the woods.
At eighteen, I moved from France to New York City and it was then that I became aware of my family’s real legacy. I discovered that Woolworth stores were beloved features of Main Streets all across America. So many people I met shared their remembrances with me of their own local Woolworths and I understood that a real affection existed for the “five and dime” mission of the store in its heyday.
Here I am now, many years later, and an even more dedicated nature girl. My sensible and eco-conscious lifestyle has become as natural as breathing or eating a strawberry. Living in Southern California has also brought me in close proximity to a thriving culture of avid environmentalists and has added a wonderful new dimension to my social life, my work, and my personal style. But most importantly, my life here has inspired a vision of embracing the family business and creating a virtual store focused on green products. We’ve all discovered the convenience and ease of shopping at home. With that in mind, what better way to usher Woolworth’s into our new century than with an online store specializing in the most up-to-date non-toxic, recyclable, energy-saving, water-conserving, and organic products that you are not likely to find at your local shopping center.
Maybe it’s those summers in Maine and my childhood in St. Paul de Vence, but I have always enjoyed surrounding myself with objects and goods that express an innate and pure authenticity. I like finding special things and tracking down the latest information. I like the basics. I respect tradition but I’m also a progressive and an eternal optimist. I think good ideas deserve a second life and I believe with a little updating, an old-fashioned Woolworth General Store can serve a new breed of conscientious consumer and become much more than just a fond memory from a bygone era.