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The 'Envi' of Town

The 'Envi' of TownWith a newly launched eco-fashion boutique on Boston’s Newbury Street, two Tufts graduates are painting the town green.

Medford/Somerville, Mass. [06.04.07] Organic cotton T-shirts, recycled cashmere sweaters and sea glass earrings are some of the fashion-forward, eco-friendly items that adorn the racks and shelves of Envi, a newly opened boutique on Boston’s trendy Newbury Street. According to the shop’s co-owners, Tufts graduates Callie Smith and Ursula Stahl, the concept behind their new venture is “style without sacrifice.”The pair believes looking good should have little impact on the environment.

“A lot of people think about eco-fashion as either being formless, not-stylish stuff, or the super high end that’s not possible for people to buy,”Smith, told the Boston Herald. “We’re bridging that gap.”

Smith, who earned a degree in economics from Tufts in 2003 along with Stahl, set her sights on opening an eco-fashion boutique a few years back when she was working retail in Boston, according to The Boston Globe. She first launched Envi—a named derived from the phrase “green with envy”and the word “environment”—in her native Vermont. She urged her former Tufts classmate Stahl to jump on board.

"I thought I needed the corporate career for a while and gave it a try," said Stahl of her stint in advertising and marketing for New Balance. But, as she told the Globe, Smith’s eco-friendly endeavor appealed to her. "We decided that we would make a good partnership and bring good skills together," Stahl told the newspaper.

Earlier this year, the pair decided to uproot Envi from Vermont. They secured a storefront on Newbury Street—a hip shopping area in Boston’s Back Bay—and built an eco-friendly home for their new shop’s eco-fashion clothing.

“They spent several months revamping the dark, cluttered space into [an] airy, urban alcove,”the Globe reported. “The renovation was eco-conscious top to bottom: bamboo floors, non-toxic paint, vintage furniture and, in their greatest coup, clothes hangers made from 100 percent recycled paper.”

To grow their clothing inventory, Smith and Stahl scoured the Internet for eco-clothing companies and designers. The co-owners told the Globe that only about 5 percent of designers at fashion shows in New York are eco-friendly. Through their own digging and relationship-building, they ended up with a selection of clothing that includes everything from eco-friendly T-shirts, sweaters and pants to belts, scarves and hats.

Most items for sale at Envi are made from organic cotton and wool, vintage fabric, bamboo, soy or hemp;they range in price from about $50 to $200. Smith and Stahl’s goal is to offer eco-conscious shoppers a variety of hip, environmentally-friendly fashions without making them feel that their existing clothes aren't "right."

"We don't want them feeling negatively about fashion," Smith told the Globe. "Fashion is fun. We want to show people that eco-fashion is fun, too."

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