At the end of each day, 19-year-old University of Cincinnati sophomore, Lindsey Zino, shifts her attention to her rapidly growing, environmentally sustainable business that has, within a year, expanded to reach clientele nationwide and in Spain. Juggling both a full class load and an online business, Zino proves that a degree isn’t necessary to have a successful career or help protect the planet.
Lindsey Zinno established her business, The Northern Market, on Etsy, an e-commerce site for handmade and vintage items. Zinno specializes in fiber art and creates home goods, totes, handbags and backpacks from recycled cotton fabric. She takes pride in selling her eco-friendly merchandise and ensures that they are high quality, durable products.
“In my business, no scrap goes unused. I am constantly saving and reusing scrap I have, whether it be for dye samples or for smaller projects. I also like to reuse packaging I’ve received in the past to use for my own shipments,” said Zino.
Zino not only operates in environmentally sustainable ways, but her products themselves are examples of how sustainable home goods should be made.
“The cotton rope I use is from a local supplier here in Ohio. I have spoken with the head of the business who has explained to me that cotton rope is the byproduct of cotton fabric production. Excess and leftover cotton is then spun into the cotton rope I use today. Each spool I receive is unique from different cotton batches. Some are more fibrous, some are more soft and some are whiter than others.”
Due to customer demand, Zino has been working to create products in darker colors. Sticking to her eco-friendly mission, Zino is finding ways to create new, dark, nontoxic dyes.
“Dyeing is definitely a selling point for my buyers, and I understand that. I am currently working with new herbs and plants to work more with natural dying for my spring line.”
Adjusting to customer demands and sticking to her simplistic, elegant, functional style has helped Zino launch her business all across home good stores in the United States and Spain.
“My products have purpose and are well made. The coasters are absorbent, the backpacks are also made into tote bags, the baskets are good for fruit, plants, even cat beds! I am constantly thinking of new items that are purposeful in the common buyer’s life and also, what I would want.”
The innovation behind the design of these products allows customers to use them for many different purposes, saving them from the unnecessary purchase of several different items. The versatility of her products also proves to be sustainable in their considerate use of resources.
This coming year, Zino has plans to record two shows for PBS where she will teach various sewing techniques for baskets, handbags and leather work, and will be releasing a book on her creative process. As for the future of her company, Zino hopes to one day expand The Northern Market and make it into a lifestyle and homegoods cafe where artists can display their work and sustainable, vegan food and natural, nourishing teas and coffees can be purchased. Zino also hopes to lead her own natural dyeing workshops and teach sewing lessons for beginners at the cafe.
“Whatever you are inspired to do, whatever dreams or goals you may have, you do not have to continue to follow the path of others,” said Zino. “You do not have to commit to social norms and wait until you have a degree to begin your life. You life is happening now, right in front of you.”
At the age of 19, Lindsey Zino entered the business world, and within a year, has established a well-respected, sustainable brand of eco-friendly fashion wear and home decor. The fashion industry has a reputation for being ephemeral, with quickly changing seasons and poorly made products that continuously need replaced. Zino has hopes for a future of enlightened fashion with well-made, environmentally-friendly products that last a lifetime.