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Jax Daily Record Tuesday, Jun. 21, 202205:00 AM EST

Startups Under 30: Sara Fagen, Eco Eclectic

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Sara Fagen’s Eco Eclectic sells sustainable and refillable products that are plastic-free.
by: Drew Dixon Drew Dixon, Contributing Writer

Sara Fagen is seriously into the environment.

So much so, her company, Eco Eclectic, is geared completely to environmental concerns.

That includes limiting the environmental impact from the products she sells.

Fagen designed and founded Eco Eclectic, a sustainable products company, to help people reduce waste in their life and in their homes.

“The idea of the business is to just make it fun and convenient for people to make a difference, even if it’s a small way by saving a few plastic bottles or buying a product that at the end of the life can be composted versus being recycled or thrown away,” she said.

Eco Eclectic sells products that are plastic-free.

Fagen is a pop-up entrepreneur who sells her products under a tent set up at markets and events around Jacksonville.

She sells bathroom, kitchen and laundry products and containers for personal care items.

The actual source of the products, such as soaps and similar materials, are produced elsewhere and Fagen sees her job as being the middelman.

Fagen, 25, realizes the green movement among businesses seems trendy and there is cynicism among consumers about how authentic companies are about helping the environment.

She said her commitment to the movement is real.

“The way I make money is selling the products and refills,” Fagen said.

She also collects compost at her markets.

“People bring me their rotting food and I take it to a couple of local parks and I also have a compost in my backyard,” she said.

“That’s something I do for free. So, this is a pretty gross way to look good.”

Fagen runs the company part-time. Her full-time job is at the neuroscience department at Mayo Clinic Florida in Jacksonville. She does research in molecular biology, cell biology and neuroscience.

Fagen lives in Neptune Beach near the shoreline. She has a connection to the ocean and said living so close to the most valuable environmental resource in Northeast Florida has influenced her.

“I actually live a block from the ocean. That’s how I started thinking about being more environmentally friendly and getting into this industry,” she said.

“Seeing plastic bottles and toothbrushes (on the beach) and reflecting on what I was putting in my own home and seeing the same products I was bringing into my own home that end up on the beach, I was like, ‘Wait there’s some kind of disconnect here,’” Fagen said.

Photo by Dede Smith: Sara Fagen, founder of Eco Eclectic, says she was inspired to create environmentally friendly containers after seeing plastic waste along the beach.

While still a pop-up entrepreneur, Fagen said she is considering renting a brick-and-mortar shop.

She might join with a partner business but that step has not been taken.

Fagen said she is convinced environmental awareness should be part of her personal products.

“It’s something I need in my life and I couldn’t find,” Fagen said.

“I thought, ‘Dang it, it’s something I’d have to do for myself.’ I’m sure I’m not the only one thinking that way.”

Nicole Alston has volunteered to help Fagen sell some products.

She met Fagen at markets when Alston was selling her own paintings.

“She’s just so easy to approach,” said Alston, who has known Fagen for two years.

“People are not intimidated by her presence. She’s very welcoming.”

Alston said the fact that Fagen’s booth is so welcoming “and she knows so much is super-intriguing and people just gravitate toward her.”

Fagen started her business in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak. She acknowledged it was difficult and she still is working through the early stages of establishing the company.

She said she has managed to generate $10,000 in annual revenue, although that basically is part-time work and she has one or two employees helping her off and on.

Alston said there is no pressure to purchase when dealing with Fagen.

“She’s just open to chat. She gives you your space and she’s not hovering. She can read the room,” Alston said.

Ultimately, Alston said Fagen has a positive aura that will transfer to a successful business.

“She’s kind of like a light,” Alston said.

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