We had the good fortune of connecting with Kara Armstrong and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Kara, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
The Conscious Merchant was founded because I felt there was gap in the non-toxic and sustainable living space. There was a need to meet mainstream America where it was at in the journey of exploring safer products and a more sustainable lifestyle. I designed our stores and brand to be a space where individuals could come with a progress not perfection vibe to explore what could fit into their lives in steps. A place where they could easily find vetted products and research without spending endless hours doing the work themselves. We also wanted to give people the ability to touch, see, and experience products to then make a conscious decision on what changes were do able at any time point in their journey.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
I’m so incredibly proud of The Conscious Merchant for creating a space for novices and seasoned eco-consumers to be met exactly where they are at in their journeys for a healthier and more sustainable life. Not to mention that we launched our business in a year of a pandemic and we’re still here! Nothing about this has been “easy” per say but somehow we continue to have a path created for our success. I’m big on the Universe giving us exactly what we need and that has sort of happened. In 2020 we have to part with our longer term anchor location plan, lockdowns weren’t kind to our original vision, but it brought us back to our roots. We pivoted to create a traveling refill bar that serves individuals and community groups with an opportunity to reuse containers for products, explore alternatives to single use products and incorporate effective and safer products for their lives from their own homes and safer places of gathering. We also landed in two brick and mortar Pop up to permanent collaborations that we wouldn’t have ever imagined pre-Pandemic. West + Main Homes welcomed us with open arms into their Louisville space which has become a permanent home in an incredible community with another amazing brand. I don’t think I’d have a brick and mortar if it wasn’t for Stacie Staub and her team. We also have had the amazing opportunity to return to Free Market Denver and love our continued involvement with Raan and Lindsay Parton’s concept of elevating brands in a curated market. Challenges come daily in 2020 and we keep taking them head on. I want readers to know that we’re committed more than ever to create a ripple. To be here for each and every individual to find their part in the mission to create a world with less waste, less harmful chemicals and an overall healthier planet. Where ever you’re at, I’m committed to making sure we meet you there!
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Hah, well, I don’t go out much these days, but if I was so lucky there would be an epic trip planned. We’d start with slowing down and escaping big city life by heading out to Buena Vista, CO and visiting Surf Hotel and Cottonwood Hot Springs. The chill vibe of that beautiful town is a great way to set the tone for a week of exploration. We’d head back to the Front Range for beers, food and fun! We’d grab beers in Louisville at 12 Degree Brewing, stop by Bruz Brewing up on 67th, grab a meal with a mission at Bruto in Lodo and round it all out bone broth at Nest at Nurture. If you ask anyone in my circle, they’d tell you they’d be packing a ton of workout clothes because we’d fill the time in between with hikes across the Front Range- that’s my vibe.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I think I say it almost daily that the success of The Conscious Merchant is completely due to community. My incredibly invested staff is critical to making our home the home for every individuals who comes in. Their daily passion and efforts to create a better world feed into the energy of our brand. My mastermind colleagues from Found(h)er, Jacki Carr’s The 12 and Kate Bailey’s Tarra Co are how my creative ideas come to life, are developed and explored in a safe space. Without these places of accountability and support my ideas would be just that, ideas. Our followers and customers! Community is a critical piece to our mission. Without our community we wouldn’t have a way to create change for a wider audience. It’s every DM, every word of mouth referral, every order, every attendee to an event that have created our success. I’m the creator but without all these people (and there are plenty more), change for a healthier world couldn’t happen.
Photo Credits to @ohanajournals and @jfierberg