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Featured Image: (From left) Lisa Hatch and Nicolette Finch recently partnered to open Terra, a new shop on El Camino Real in North Beach, where they sell products that make everyday living simple and more friendly to the environment. Photo: C. Jayden Smith

By C. Jayden Smith

Tired of relying on stores that weren’t local to the San Clemente and Capistrano Beach area to provide Earth-conscious products, Nicolette Finch resolved to start her own business that could be the region’s beacon.

Life got in the way for a while, but after starting a concerted effort in January 2022 to get such a store running with partner and local businesswoman Lisa Hatch, the lifestyle products shop known as Terra opened its doors on El Camino Real in North Beach this past May.

Hatch, whose Dana Point venture in Sea and Sky, a home goods store, closed after three years in 2020, needed some convincing, but she eventually came around.

Now the duo is striving to change the surrounding community’s everyday habits to build a better future for people and the entire planet.

Hatch’s initial hesitancy came from previously putting in seven days of work into Sea and Sky, with double-digit hours a day, on occasion, and fearing she wouldn’t have time for herself.

“Nicolette said, ‘No, we’re going to be open five days a week, and we’re going to be open (from) either 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. or 12 p.m. to 6 p.m.,’ ” Hatch remembered of Finch’s idea, to which she was more receptive.

They split time evenly at the shop, which allows for them to focus on their other businesses.

Terra provides a convenience in finding Earth-centered products, according to Finch, in that consumers can find intensely sourced alternatives that are easily interchangeable with products already in their homes, instead of having to traverse countless websites. Finch said she felt that people are happy their store is present in the community in that sense.

“We’re wanting to do the educational awareness component, where (we’re) just showing people how simple swaps make a huge difference in not only their health, but the health of the planet at the same time,” Hatch added. “That’s the brilliance of it; making it easy and economical.”

Finch said the team has had an interest in environment protection and living in such a manner for as long as they can remember, which they have used extensively in terms of conducting research on the products Terra carries.

Asking companies the hard questions to gather every available detail about an item guides their decision-making and has led them to moments of trial and error in the process. However, the duo has also found products they have been excited about, as a part of the whole experience they share with customers.

Those conversations have helped build relationships between Terra and the brands in their store to where companies will tell Finch and Hatch about the verification process, including the Leaping Bunny certification that tells buyers products are cruelty-free, or earned the Environmental Protection Agency’s Safer Choice identification.

“Part of it is trusting them, too, because you can only get so much information,” Hatch said of Terra doing its homework on brands. “So, we’ve also tried to try all the different things and make sure that we’re not getting a rash (or a similar side effect).”

Their store improves on what is already on the market by selling products that are plant-based and septic-safe, which eliminates dyes and harmful chemicals, and reduces users’ carbon footprint, Finch said.

Additionally, Hatch’s years spent attending toxicology conferences to learn about environmental toxins benefits their work.

All their combined knowledge can inform people of the safety and simplicity of swapping out products for other Earth-friendly options.

Terra encourages everyone to make the changes that make sense for them and their families, Finch said.

“We don’t want you to throw out your whole house and start fresh,” she said. “We want you to use what you have, and when you’re ready to make a switch, make a switch.”

Hatch added that the world needs more “imperfect environmentalists,” who do the best they can with what they have available.

“That’s when it’s really going to make an impact on not just yourself and those around you and those you love, but (also) everybody else on this Earth and the Earth,” said Hatch.

Their solid dish soaps, detergent strips, eco-brushes, body products, and Weck jars have been the highest-selling items in the business’ first months of operation.

The products’ concentrated, single-use nature with recyclable packaging, or replaceability, ensure that plastic isn’t used repeatedly and destined to land in a place that harms the environment.

People often don’t realize how simple an Earth-centered lifestyle is, according to Hatch. That factor has led the duo to encourage customers to bring in their own containers to fill with products, or take from the free glass options in the store.

“We’re trying to create as little waste as we can, so use what you have until it’s gone or eventually, over time, replace your plastic bottles with glass bottles, whatever it is that works for (you),” Hatch said.

Another misconception is regarding the products’ effectiveness, Finch said, in that when something doesn’t create as many bubbles when used, people are trained to think it doesn’t work.

She said she loves getting feedback, and that it’s all within their mission to provide things that simplify life, give people a cleaner life, and work.

Although Terra is young, the business has already become involved in the community by hosting events such as workshops, clothing swaps, and happy hours on its patio. It hopes to expand its reach and awareness, and it is currently working with the city toward hosting an artisan market.

Terra

1401 N. El Camino Real, Suite 113, San Clemente

terraeveryday.com

949.545.7502

C. Jayden Smith

C. Jayden Smith graduated from Dana Hills High in 2018 before pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in digital and broadcast journalism from the University of North Texas. After graduating in December 2020, he reported for the Salina Journal in Salina, Kansas. Jayden loves college football and bothering his black lab named Shadow.

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