Elizabeth Monks, Willow & Greene

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Elizabeth Monks, Willow & Greene

Welcome to Ep. 2 of "Behind the Brand," our blog series that brings you closer to the people who make the goods we sell in our shop! In this feature, we're thrilled to spotlight Elizabeth (Lizzie) Monks, the founder and owner of Willow & Greene, a pioneering sustainable dish cleaning company.

Lizzie's journey is one of inspiration, determination, and a steadfast commitment to environmental stewardship. Through Willow & Greene, she has not only transformed the mundane task of dish cleaning into an eco-friendly practice, but also set a new standard in the industry for sustainability and ethical business practices. 

What role does the environment and sustainability play in inspiring the ethos and products of Willow & Greene?

I grew up in the English countryside and have always felt very connected to nature. When I decided to start a business I knew it had to be for the social good in some way, and the more I considered the direction I wanted to take, it felt intuitive to focus on environmental impact. I have previously worked in the not for profit sector with a focus on protecting the environment so it’s a space I’m familiar with. Watching my two young children play on the beautiful land around the Catskills, where we have now settled, reinforces my commitment to designing products that reflect my values whilst remaining uncompromising in design and quality. 

Can you share a favorite personal memory or experience related to nature that influences how you run your business?

At 24, I ventured on a four-month solo trip to northern India, living in a rural village named Amarpurkashi. The community spirit and the simple, sustainable lifestyle there made a lasting impression on me. The village life, devoid of consumerism, showed me the value of using local resources and the importance of a symbiotic relationship with the land. This experience was pivotal to me and has shaped my approach to product development at Willow & Greene, where we constantly question the purpose and impact of each product we bring into the world. 

Among the products we carry, which one is your favorite, and why does it stand out to you?

The solid dish soap holds a special place in my heart as our first product. It embodies simplicity and sustainability, contrasting starkly with the excessive use of plastic in everyday products. Before I started the company I had never used solid dish soap before. I saw it in a shop once a few years ago, and thought it was genius. I had some experience in soap making so I went home and tried to make my own. Over a few months I tried so many formulas, our kitchen was a huge mess! Now we outsource our soapmaking to a wonderful soaper with 20 years experience. She lives on a rural farm in Germantown, NY so I head over there every month and collect each batch. We still make our dish soap with the formula I concocted in my kitchen, with quality essential oils and organic fats. It's not only kinder to the environment but also to the skin, as echoed by customers with eczema. 

When you're not working, what's your favorite earth-friendly activity or hobby?

I've recently taken up ceramics, which I find both grounding and challenging. It's a hobby that demands focus, providing a peaceful escape and a flow state beneficial for mental health. I’m yet to make anything very good, but it’s all about the process right?! Additionally, living in the Catskills offers endless opportunities to connect with nature. We have a stream near our house where we swim in the summer which I absolutely love. More than anything I’m trying to slow down and take in the natural beauty around me, to notice small changes in the landscape as the seasons change. I’m all for slow living and finding joy in the everyday. 

What are your hopes and dreams for your business? 

Willow & Greene is continuing to grow, we doubled our revenue in 2023 and hope to do the same again this year. I have big dreams and hope to work with many more retailers as we expand across the US. On a personal level I hope the brand continues to inspire others to be bold and conscious changemakers who allow themselves time to slow down and enjoy this precious life. 

Is there anything else you would like to share with our customers?

People often ask brands about the origin of their name. Willow & Greene came to me as a brand name quite suddenly after months of back and forth deciding whether to start a business. It is the name of my childhood home in England; Willow Green. The house will always remind me of my mother, who passed in 2013. She made all the curtains, grew figs in the summer, took me on endless trips to pick out the perfect linens and spent hours sourcing beautiful old furniture from flea markets and second hand dealers. She loved that home, and definitely sparked my love of the interior space and my interest in design. I’m so grateful to anyone that buys a Willow & Greene product - it’s a huge privilege for me to know that you chose us for your home!

Shop our collection of Willow & Greene products here. 

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