The Eco-store that Nigel Built - from clicks to bricks 05.07.07
Nigel Berman takes a novel
approach to getting on the bus
Nigel’s Eco Store was founded strangely enough by a man called Nigel-Nigel Berman. While the trend in retail is moving from selling through shops to selling online, Nigel Berman talks to Natural Choices about why they have gone the other way.
Nigel’s Eco Store is a retailer (mainly online, but they have just opened a small shop in Hove) of stylish and functional products that are environmentally-friendly. Committed to raising awareness of how our lifestyles and everyday activities contribute to environmental damage, Nigel and his team have handpicked products that are eco-friendly without compromising on design. Products include kitchenware, gadgets, furniture, lighting and household goods.
All products sold by Nigel’s Eco Store are environmentally sound. Made of natural, organic, recycled and energy-efficient materials, they avoid or reduce contribution to global warming or climate change.
The trend in retail is to move from physical stores to e-commerce, yet Nigel’s Eco Store, which started up online has gone the other way and has now opened a shop in Hove why are they bucking the trend? “Because many of the products are so new, and innovative, people need to see, feel and touch them, and for someone to be able to explain how it works, or answer questions. Some of the things we sell need to be seen in the flesh also , for example furniture – it’s hard to get a real sense of some of it without seeing it” says Nigel Berman.
Nigel trained as a chartered accountant with KPMG in London after leaving university. On qualification he took a couple of years off to go traveling round SE Asia and Australia, came back a bit disorientated, but with a broader mind, and some new ideas. Nigel although trained as an accountant rapidly moved off into other directions, preferring words to figures.
“I started a magazine - Insight Network - to communicate what I was finding out. After 4 years I felt like a change and freelanced as a writer for a couple of years - for magazines like Maxim, She etc, and in 1997, after inspiration from a friend, launched a new free monthly magazine, in Brighton only - New Insight - initially covering mind body spirit and the environment, but later expanding more into arts and culture. Within a few years the name changed to The Insight and it grew into one of the leading independent freebies in Brighton. I also repositioned the company as an environmentally responsible publisher. In 2005 I brought in an investor, who began to move the company in a new direction – but my heart was elsewhere - I had already set up Nigel’s Eco Store a year earlier and had gone from working on it in my spare time, to part-time, and decided to devote myself to it full time, and left publishing in April 2006.”
“I have always wanted to make a difference – to do something I believe in, and make a living at the same time! I also like making things happen, and am a bit of an ideas person. Late 2004, early 2005, I was looking for a new challenge, and I was inspired and excited by some eco products that I came across - I got a gut feeling about it and I just went ahead and set up in a small way alongside what I was already doing. Most of my working life has been about communication, and media – from editing and publishing, to writing, and even film (I was one of the founders of the Jewish Film Festival). Apart from finally learning how to use this exciting new medium (the internet), if I analyse it I feel I am communicating about the environment and new ideas, but in a different way to before – through products and the ideas behind them – rather than through articles.”
Nigel’s Eco Store started as a spare time thing in a small way, using a small (and cheap) internet site. It has grown organically from there. Winning award such as the SCIP Web award for best business, and highly recommended by the Real Homes Eco Awards 2007, they have big plans for the next five years, “Look out because we’re growing on all fronts!” beams Nigel Berman.
Key suppliers used by Nigel’s Eco Store
Electricity: Good Energy
Paper: Green Stationery Company
Web Host: Green ISP
Web design: collaboration between a few local companies and Nigel
Bank: Nat West
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