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Rising Stars: Meet Jenny Vedrani of Pasadena

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jenny Vedrani.

Hi Jenny, can you start by introducing yourself? We’d love to learn more about how you got to where you are today?
Growing up my father and grandmother were incredible gardeners and always tended a compost pile. We ate seasonally and there was no such thing as waste. In my father’s kitchen there was a seating area/recycling bin – cans, glass and paper. Nothing ever went to waste and you never knew if you were getting butter or last nights leftovers when you opened one of the containers in the fridge. Over the years, those values stuck with me and when one of my best friends brought up the idea of opening a refill shop – I was enthralled! The only problem – Covid-19 had the country on lockdown and she and I were in different states. I couldn’t get the idea of the refillery out of my mind, I loved the business model so much. We decided to pull together a couple of friends and do some brainstorming and a few weeks later Refill Goodness took form. Some parts were easy – Jenn had some space in a shared artist warehouse and I had a little bit of money to fill it with products. We also lucked into working with a social media expert and an organizational guru who helped drive us through some of the rougher moments. They got us over the hump for sure! When we opened the doors, friends, family and new faces lined up and just kept coming. They brought friends who brought friends, and on it went. We decided to seize the moment and opened up in Maryland much sooner than anticipated. We originally thought it would be 1-2 years before Maryland was ready to launch, but we opened our second location 6 months after we started in Ohio.

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way? Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
I wish I could say it has been smooth sailing but I am an honest person. Neither Jenn nor I had experience in accounting or legal – it left a huge gap. Add to that our distance and there were many moments when I was in the car on the way to Ohio, thinking this is too hard, how are we going to make this work. But at each event I became inspired once again. Connecting with the people who wanted to make a difference pushed us forward.

We also didn’t anticipate that getting into farmer’s markets would be a bit of a struggle. Part of our mission is to lift up other small businesses, so we don’t make many of our own products but purchase from local and regional makers instead. This turned out to be tough in a world full of “producer only” markets. We finally caught a break and connected with some kind and generous friends who helped us make our way into a few different markets. Once word spread – the tides changed and suddenly it became time that was the problem.

Thanks – so what else should our readers know about your work and what you’re currently focused on?
Education is a huge part of this business, as is outreach. Sustainable living can appear expensive until you begin to understand the long-term investment aspect. We have become a very disposable culture, and as such we waste a lot of money buying things over and over. It’s a clever marketing trick! But we are here to shine a light on the reality of it all.

Is there something surprising that you feel even people who know you might not know about?
Jenn and I met at a Phish show. We both love live music and I am guessing we have each been to see several hundred shows. It just goes to show you that you never know what is going to happen, so get out there and live your life. From that show, we have created a business across two states and we continue to grow – life is pretty miraculous!

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