One-stop shop for the reusable and refillable

  • Staying true: Sue Khan’s wares are all non-toxic and environmentally conscious and are both local and foreign and are displayed in her new store in a former storage room on Old Cellar Lane, off Front Street (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

    Staying true: Sue Khan’s wares are all non-toxic and environmentally conscious and are both local and foreign and are displayed in her new store in a former storage room on Old Cellar Lane, off Front Street (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

In the lead-up to Christmas, Sue Khan was looking for gifts that matched her character.

Her life took a minimalist turn three years ago. For her, that meant downsizing her possessions and figuring out what was most valuable and important. The shift forced her to think more about her next purchases and the season’s shelves were overstocked with disposable trinkets.

“Where can I get stuff on the island that is aligned with what’s important to me and also a good gift for somebody else?” she wondered.

“I need it to be made sustainably, I want it to be easy on the environment. I don’t want to support sweatshops. I want to make sure that [beauty products] I buy are vegan and cruelty-free in biodegradable packaging, and I just couldn’t find it. So, I thought, ‘What if I built this?’.”

The 29-year-old opened Naked Zero in February, having run a successful Christmas pop-up shop. It allowed her to fill her teenage daughter’s stocking with vegan nail polish, deodorant with biodegradable wrapping and non-toxic soap.

“I felt good overflowing her stocking with things like that that are useful, good for her and good for the environment,” she said. “We sold out of everything within a week with very little advertising. We didn’t go to the newspaper, it was just word of mouth.”

She calls her store a “one-stop shop, with a little bit of everything” — from laundry detergent, to reusable containers, to baby clothes and non-toxic beauty products. The response has been “amazing”.

“There’s a whole community of people who are trying to reduce their waste,” she said. “They want to buy things that are reusable, refillable or biodegradable. There’s been no judgment; everybody’s learning. They’re teaching me things, I’m teaching people things,” she said.

“Everybody that comes into the store understands because they’re confronted with the same things. There’s been so much support. I could never have guessed that it would have turned out as good as it has.”

She offers tips to those looking to adapt their lifestyles.

“We talk about simple switches, like replacing your plastic toothbrush with a bamboo one or your plastic bags with a reusable bag; go to the farmers’ market instead of the grocery store,” she said. We have loyal customers that come every week. They love having somewhere where they can find products that support their lifestyle.”

The toughest thing is keeping stock in. Popular items such as charcoal-infused toothpaste won’t last 24 hours on the shelves. “Two days at the most,” she said. “Because we’re eco-friendly, we try to do one shipment a month; a lot of the other stores have things coming in almost weekly. We try and pool everything so that we have one flight in. Once it gets out, things fly off the shelves.”

Local products are another big seller. Ase Naturals, Sweet & Kind Bakery, Surishae and Oatbelievable are among the Bermuda-made products she carries.

A new company, Loquat Roots, is a line of post-partum teas and sitz baths made by a local doula; her latest is Fro Love Potion, a brand that makes natural hair products. “We want to try and decrease our carbon footprint where we can,” she said. “We are an island, so we have to import a bunch of stuff, but where we can have local products, we do. People love the idea of supporting local.

“It’s expensive to have a store, let alone on Front Street. Just giving them the visibility really works for them and it really, really works for us.”

Formerly a portfolio manager with an investment management firm, she left the company last month and is now fully engaged in this “passion project”.

“I didn’t leave to start the shop,” she said. “We’ve got three girls at home and I was working like crazy. I decided to take a step back. Being in the corporate culture, you’re working so hard and so much that you start consuming things as your own little trophies for all the time that you invest into your career.

“You spend so much time away from your family and then you overcompensate with stuff. You do it with kids and you do it with yourself and you wake up one day with so much stuff.

“At some point I was like, enough. I was pregnant with the youngest. I needed to figure out how to enjoy my time at home and be focused at work at the same time.”

She used to throw extravagant parties for her children. Last week, she decided to forego the fanfare and took her two-year-old to a farm and the beach.

“Then, on Sunday, we had cake and ice cream with the godparents, which is a drastic difference to what parties used to be,” Mrs Khan said. “She had such a good time and I realised it’s empowering just simplifying and being more intentional. Subconsciously, I was overcompensating for all the hours that I spent at work and coming home feeling drained.”

She hopes her store will help grow a community of like-minded people. “If you have no idea about the lifestyle, come into the store, come learn something new. We really want to educate and build a community around the store. It’s an absolutely no-judgment zone.”

Naked Zero is on Old Cellar Lane off Front Street. It’s open 10am to 5pm, Tuesday to Saturday. Look for it on Instagram: nakedzerobermuda

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Published Apr 27, 2018 at 8:00 am (Updated Apr 26, 2018 at 10:51 pm)

One-stop shop for the reusable and refillable

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