Rachel Lessne ’07

Going Green Never Looked So Good

Since she was a little girl, Rachel Lessne has wanted to run her own business. Long a fan of “natural” products, she learned in her Textile Science class at URI about organic cotton. Her research led her to a whole world of organic textiles and fabrics, then to recycling and recycled accessories and jewelry, and then to the realization that this was what she wanted to do as a life’s work.

Lessne opened the Green Envy Eco-Boutique in 2008 when she was 23 years old to “combine her love of the earth with a passion for fashion.”

Today, she is helping people look good while feeling great about sustaining the planet. Her award-winning store just moved to a larger space at 8 Franklin Street in Newport (online at greenenvyshop.com). It features merchandise obtained through fair trade from international, national, and local artisans that is made of natural, organic, and recycled materials.

In addition to running and expanding her store in Newport, Lessne has so far mentored five student interns from URI’s Department of Textiles, Fashion Merchandising, and Design so they can get hands-on experience in managing a profitable and environmentally sustaining business. Lessne judges fashion shows too, and is frequently a guest speaker in fashion and entrepreneurship seminars.

Lessne is ethically committed to fair wages, safe working environments, health care and educational opportunities for people who make the products she sells. Her “green” commitment even extends to day-to-day housekeeping in her store—environmentally safe cleaning supplies, recycled packaging materials, CFL lightbulbs, and 100% recycled content toilet paper.

Lessne believes that, collectively, small actions can help improve life on the planet. She wants eventually to create “one-stop green shopping” at Green Envy Eco-Boutique, while honoring important social and environmental commitments through everything sold and purchased at the store.

—Sally Adams ’66, M.A. ‘68