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Name: Gia Machlin

Business: EcoPlum, an e-commerce hub for eco-friendly products

Industry: E-Commerce

Location: New York, New York, U.S.

Reason for starting: I wanted to inspire and motivate people to live a more sustainable lifestyle and to practice conscious consumerism. The EcoPlum Boutique carries stylish and unique clothing, accessories, jewelry, cosmetics, specialty foods and gift items that are fair trade, organic, vegan, upcycled, recycled or ethically sourced. Rewards earned from purchases can be donated to environmental causes. The EcoPlum Blog features green living, beauty and fashion tips, videos, reviews, and articles. EcoPlum makes it fun, easy and rewarding to go green.

How do you define success? Success is the right combination of lifestyle, money, personal fufillment and contribution to society. For me, making a living, while making the world a better place and feeling satisfied with what I do while being able to spend time with the ones I love is the biggest success of all.

Related: Read about another female entrepreneur who created a  socially responsible e-commerce platform here.

Biggest Success: As defined above, EcoPlum has to be my biggest success. I feel extremely rewarded when I get letters/emails from people all over the world telling me that I have inspired them to change their habits and take better care of themselves and the environment. I have been featured in many national and local publications, on the radio and on webcasts for the work I do. My biggest personal success is how i live my life as a mother, wife and daughter. My biggest financial/business success was my previous venture, a software company that I grew from scratch into a thriving enterprise which was acquired by a public company and still exists today.

I would love to reach a point of financial stability and sustainability within the next year. I would also like to expand the product line to include many more artisans making beautiful fashion and home items out of reclaimed and renewable materials. I’m looking to expand services to include business consulting and advising over the next few months and switch to a new e-commerce platform in the next month to better showcase our brand, products, and stories.

What is your top challenge and how have you addressed it? My top challenge at EcoPlum has to be trying to grow it while still maintaining control of the company and staying true to its core mission and values. In a previous venture, I had a devastating experience with business partners who did not share my values. I am very hesitant to take on outside funding when the values of the investor may not be in line with mine. I have addressed this by growing very slowly and self funding all operations and teaming up with like minded, socially conscious entities and individuals.

On a personal level, my mother and father’s constant hospitalizations over the past 4 years have been incredibly distracting. My sister and I counted the days in 2012 and 2013 that either one of our parents was in the hospital and it was about 3/4 of the time! They have both undergone several major surgeries and ICU stays in the last few years and it can take a real toll on my mood and energy – especially with 2 kids in NYC public schools and all the pressures associated with that.

Related: Strength is Harnessed Through Struggle 

Who is your most important role model? My father. You probably want to hear me say my mother, since this is about women, but my 93 year old father is truly amazing and inspiring. After retiring from 40 years as a professor of engineering at Columbia, he continued to keep his mind sharp by publishing scientific papers until the age of 92. He is the primary caregiver for my 88 year old mother who is paralyzed from a stroke and very ill. He has figured out ingenious ways of making their living space more accessible for my mom and he is constantly tinkering and coming up with new ideas. He’s published many books, was one of the first people to see DNA through a field ion microscope, raised 3 kids, taken care of 2 very ill wives (his first wife died), survived 2 types of cancer and he is witty and charming and full of energy.

Twitter   @ecoplum
Tumblr   tumblr.EcoPlum

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Edited by The Story Exchange