The former Spruce Nail Shop space at 1235 Vine St. has a new tenant: Simply Zero, a sustainable lifestyle shop and refillery, which opened earlier this month. The new store is stocked with various package-free, eco-friendly products, from bath and body to mom and baby to grocery and on-the-go items. Plus, find and refill everyday essentials like personal care and household cleaning items at the refillery.
Owner Rachel Felous says she’s cared about sustainability and the environment from a young age. She studied environmental sciences at The University of Southern California, eventually earning a master’s in conservation. After graduating, Felous worked in sustainability consulting for businesses and realized her everyday lifestyle did not align with what she was teaching. “Buying my groceries and the products I was choosing to use—I hadn’t made that connection between packaging waste and clean ingredients with my love for the environment,” she says. “When I started Simply Zero in 2017, it was really out of this desire to align those two things.”
Felous launched Simply Zero from her couch in the form of a personal Instagram page that documented her zero waste journey. “I think the authenticity is important for the store, it was born out of my passion,” Felous says. “Maintaining that story and not hiding it has always been important to me; you can go back and see the first posts that started the journey.”
Felous featured Simply Zero goods for the first time at City Flea in June of 2019. Thanks to it growing Instagram following and the success of her pop-up events around the city, Felous started preparing to open a storefront in March. She chose Over-the-Rhine, because it’s where the business “took its baby steps,” Felous says. “I have been blown away by the support of my neighbors in Over-the-Rhine; small businesses have created such a powerful community here.”
Everything sold at Simply Zero features zero waste or compostable and recyclable packaging and is researched extensively for quality. “There are a number of brands that reach out to be stocked in our store, and we say no to a lot of different products,” Felous says. “We do a lot of research and ask a lot of questions of all the brands that we work with to make sure they align with our values.”
Lifestyle products sold at Simply Zero that help reduce waste include reusable utensils for eating on the go, plastic-free lunch boxes, hairbrushes, compostable loofas, sponges, and Band-Aids.
The refillery also aids customers in reducing waste while saving money, with opportunities to buy products in bulk and bring containers from home or purchase containers in the store to refill—think personal care products like body soap, bubble bath, body lotion, shampoos and conditioners, body and hair oils, and more. Household cleaners like dish detergent, laundry detergent, and toilet cleaning products are also available.
People choose to live a more sustainable lifestyle for different reasons: health benefits, protecting species of animals, combating climate change, and saving money to name a few. “Understanding your why for choosing to live this lifestyle” is important, Felous says. “The lifestyle change isn’t something that will happen overnight. It’s not something you achieve in a week or a year. It’s committing to the long-term lifestyle choice and creating habits that are going to last forever.”