Meet your merchant: Mama Madrone’s Eco-Emporium in Nevada City offers eco-friendly clothing, home goods
Mama Madrone’s Eco-Emporium
307 Broad St., Nevada City
Hours: 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Saturday
11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sundays
Website (coming soon): MamaMadrones.com
Facebook: Mama Madrone’s eco-emporium
Kristin and James Welch had spent a decade running an organic farm in Viroqua, Wisconsin, when they decided to take a trip to visit friends in Nevada City.
They loved it, and in 2007 they packed up their belongings and moved west, with two young children in tow.
Kristin landed a job at Being Green, a small earth-friendly store owned by Be Cretilli, situated in the rear of the New York Hotel off Broad Street. Several years later, when the owner was ready to sell the popular business, Kristin and James jumped at the opportunity, with the understanding that Kristin would be overseeing day-to-day operations.
Serendipitously, a retail space became available right on Broad Street when the owners of Maiden Lane opted to close after 26 years. Seeing an opportunity for more square footage and an increase in foot traffic, Kristin was the first to enquire about renting the historic storefront.
In 2016, Kristin opened her doors in the new location under a new name — “Mama Madrone’s Eco-Emporium” — inspired by a madrone tree on their property. In keeping with the “being green” theme and philosophy, Kristin collaborated with woodworkers, artists and designers to create a space that reflected a respect for the earth and a nod to the local landscape. Shelves, racks, door handles and siding were created from repurposed barn wood, manzanita and metal.
But by far the store’s pièces de résistance is a large “tree,” made from buckeye, maple and madrone by North San Juan artist Bob Beams.
“Bob is known for dragging madrone out of the woods and making beautiful things,” said Kristin. “He showed us his treasure trove of madrone slabs. He constructed the tree at his house and it fits perfectly inside the store.”
A sampling of eco-friendly goods at Mama Madrone’s include clothing, fair trade jewelry, bedding, purses, bags, sunglasses, robes, hoodies, bees wax candles, rugs, local honey, glassware, underwear, bead work and more.
Popular brands include Nomads Hemp Wear, hemp HoodLamb, Encanto jewelry and others. All clothing is made from natural and sustainable fibers, such as bamboo, cotton and hemp. Customer favorites are the organic bedding by Organic Mattresses, Inc. (OMI) from Yuba City and Coyuchi from Point Reyes Station.
“Our only rule is that you don’t snore when testing out the bedding,” joked Kristin.
Coming later this spring will be a colorful selection of Loka Swimwear, made with 78 percent recycled fishing nets pulled from the ocean.
“We research every product,” said Kristin, who says most of her customers are conscious of their purchasing power. “That’s our niche.”
In addition to Kristin, the staff at Mama Madrone’s consists of Rachel Coleman-Hunt, Keyna Hodge, Elana Hierman and Jordan Enright-Schulz.
“I love working with companies and businesses that care about making the world a better place — it feels good,” said Rachel. “It’s fun to teach people about our products and educate them about green practices.”
Today, Welchs’ children are 17 and 21, and the Wisconsin natives now feel firmly “rooted” in the Sierra foothills of California.
“I love our new location and our neighbors, and I love that I got to create a space that we were able to make our own,” said Kristin. “Between locals and tourists, at the end of every day I feel good because of so many positive interactions.”
To contact Staff Writer Cory Fisher, email her at Cory@theunion.com.
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