Before interviewing her for the Women of Moncton series, I had never met Shawna Berthe. I had heard about EZ Eco online and I knew I had to meet the woman behind it. She was doing something I’ve always thought about doing – bringing sustainable and eco-friendly products to Moncton. Our chat was very informative and the advice she gave is something I think I had been needing to hear. Without further ado, let me introduce you to Shawna Berthe of EZ Eco.
Tell me a bit about yourself.
My name is Shawna Berth. I’ve always lived in Moncton. I’m trained in hospitality and tourism because I always wanted to travel the world. Then I had my son instead. He’s a teenager now, and he kind of understands why I shifted to doing something different for work.
I started off being involved in corporate business. When I worked at Blue Cross, I started going to Hot Yoga all the time. And then I decided I didn’t want to work 9-5 anymore. I booked a trip to Thailand for a month to get trained to be a yoga teacher. I taught yoga for a couple of years, but when the yoga studio closed down, I had to return to corporate work. That was painful for me.
I knew that I wanted to work for myself, but nothing interested me enough to make the jump. I’ve always been interested in animal well-fare and reducing my meat consumption. So one day, I’m in the grocery store and I look down at my cart to see that most of the products are wrapped in plastic, and that doesn’t line up with my values. So I decided I needed to make a change.
I started selling eco-friendly products to my friends and family. It was going well so I started doing pop-up shops, then I officially opened EZ Eco in June as a full fledged business.
What is EZ Eco?
When I started my eco journey, I had a hard time finding good products in Moncton, at least not in the same place. It didn’t make sense to me to drive to 5 stores to find these items. There was a need there, so I decided to fill it.
The products I sell are kitchen and bath items, specifically. Anything from bamboo toothbrushes to reusable cotton make up remover pads, from reusable utensils and straws to stainless steels containers.
Where can people purchase EZ Eco products?
I do pop up shops, markets, festivals and I also have an online store.
How do you balance personal life and work life?
I do what I can. I’m a 911 operator part time, so I have that to pay the bulk of the bills. I also teach yoga, which is my passion. And then I have EZ Eco, which is also something that I’m very passionate about but it’s a lot more challenging on the business side of things. I’m fortunate that my kid is old enough to take care of himself; I’m not sure I could have done this with young children at home. If I’m feeling overwhelmed, I can leave and take a walk without having to worry about my son. I’m lucky that I have the space to find balance when I need it. The challenge is just taking the time to create the balance.
What do you love most about Moncton?
Not winter… Haha! I would say the people and the community. It’s close-knit here. There’s still a lot of people here. Sometimes I go to a conference and I’m surprised that there are so many people I don’t know. But at the same time, everyone in the small business community knows each other and is open to helping each other. It’s not really competitive. Moncton is big enough that there’s room for everyone’s different ideas, but it’s small enough that people help each other out.
What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced in your life?
Still finding a balance is my biggest challenge in life. I’m just in the beginning phase of my business, I’m still learning. I’m still going through the rough bumpy part, of figuring out where I belong in the city and in the community. I find it challenge to maintain a work-life balance. There’s less wiggle room when you’re starting out, so you have to work hard to find what works best for you.
Who inspires you?
There’s a zero waster called Bay Johnson. I’m not seeking to be her, but I get ideas from her on how to live more sustainably. She’s a bit extreme – basically she lives a zero waste lifestyle. But there’s a certain line that is drawn between putting effort into something and being obsessed with something. That’s not the direction I think we should be taking – to try to get everyone to become zero waste, because that’s never going to happen. I think we need to get away from recycling and go to the actual manufacturing companies. That’s where the change has to happen.
What advice would you give to other women?
Don’t be hard on yourself. Do what you can do. Don’t compare yourself to your neighbour. Be happy with your progress – whether it’s sustainability or a personal goal.
How can people get in touch with you?
On my website, there’s a section called Pop-Ups so people can find out when I’m selling. You can order online and do in store pick up in Moncton. I’m on Facebook and Instagram, as well as in Movi Yoga Studio on Mountain Road.