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Start a Green Business

Make money and be earth-friendly with a green products business.
December 1, 2006
URL: http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/170778

Even Wal-Mart sells organic cotton T-shirts these days, but you definitely don't have to be a retailing behemoth to take your business in a green or organic direction. In fact, entrepreneurs have an advantage when it comes to reaching customers who care about the cause as well as the products.

"It's a highly underrated opportunity for small business," says Dr. Karel J. Samsom, a specialist in environmental and sustainable entrepreneurship and author of Spirit of Entrepreneurship. A study by the Organic Trade Association shows that nonfood organic product sales reached $744 million in U.S. consumer sales in 2005, with supplements, personal care and household products leading the charge. For green entrepreneurs, passion is key, says Samsom: "People who are imbued with this kind of spirit have an incredible imagination to rebuild the value chain and inspire their customers in the process."

That passion is evident when talking to Jonelle Raffino, 41, of South West Trading Co. Inc., a Tempe, Arizona, business that specializes in earth-friendly, alternative fibers and textiles such as yarns made from bamboo, corn and even recycled crab shells. "This country is seeing that we need to challenge the idea of products that use fossil fuels," says Raffino, who co-founded the company in 2001 with her mother, Jonette Beck. Business is booming so much, they've expanded into ready-to-wear items, and they can barely keep up with demand for their line of plush Soy-Silk Pals toys.

Getting Started
If you dream of starting your own green products business, consider the following tips: