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Name: Monica Leonard (Molly’s Suds + The Refillery St. Pete)

Posted By Megan Holmes

Sustainability has long been a hot topic in St. Pete, but entrepreneur Monica Leonard made it a business. After the loss of her daughter Molly, Leonard created Molly's Suds in her memory. Molly's Suds provides a safe alternative to standard laundry and household products, free of harmful chemicals. In spring 2019, Leonard expanded her pioneering endeavors to open The Refillery St. Pete. The Refillery, located in Tyrone area, gives St. Pete residents a place to buy zero-waste household products, reduce single use plastics and encourage reusable container use. Check out their website for a full calendar of events and workshops.

Years in Tampa Bay

We just opened on April 22, 2019.

Hustle (job)

Founder of Molly's Suds and The Refillery St. Pete

What do you do?  

I run Molly's Suds, our natural laundry and household cleaning products company full-time, and my manager Calley Pate runs The Refillery St. Pete.

Why do you do it?

The passion for safe ingredients in all products for laundry and household stems from the loss of my daughter Molly in 2005. I began researching chemicals in common household products and found that many of them do penetrate our largest organ- the skin. These chemicals can be responsible for eczema, allergies, headaches, miscarriages, infant loss and cancer. I decided to start a company with truly safe ingredients that are safe for people AND the Planet.

What was your Catalyst? (How did you get started?)

The Refillery concept was born from the lack of a retail location where people can reduce their waste by refilling would-be disposed of containers with safe household, laundry, bath,and body products. Bulk food is an option everywhere, but nowhere can you refill laundry detergents, dish soaps, hand soap, shampoo, conditioner and toothpaste. So we created an atmosphere where our community members can come and refill their containers, create their own DIY serums and scrubs, and also shop for items that help their families reduce their waste - like reusable zippered snack bags, stainless straws and cutlery for on the go, and so much more. It is a one-stop shop for education, action and reducing waste.

What’s a common misconception or unknown aspect of what you do?

New visitors think they need to buy empty containers specifically to come refill their products. Instead we encourage everyone to reuse any empty container they may already have at home. It can be an empty mayo jar, shampoo bottle, detergent bottle or leftover container. We do have containers available for sale, but the goal is to reduce and reuse!

What’s the most challenging part of your Hustle?

We're having a lot of fun listening to the community and learn what they really want in our store. It can be a challenge finding resources for some of these items in bulk quantities.

What’s the most valuable piece of business advice/insight that’s helped you?

Find your passion and go for it! Don't be afraid to do something wrong, because someone will always tell you when you make a mistake or how to do it better (or differently). Start small and just keep going!

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