By Maggie Miles / Correspondent |Photography by Kim Cowan
April 2, 2021
For years, people on the Outer Banks have asked why we don’t have a co-op. In October last year, a group of women got together and asked why not?
Shree Fulcher, owner of Ascension, a crystal shop, apothecary and energy healing center, has teamed up with three other healers and makers, Emily Howell, of Howell’s Herbal Apothecary, Schuylar Henderson of Henderson Handwoven, maker of beautiful macrame, and Kristin Hamm, of North12Naturals, an organic beauty and body care business to create Hi Vibe Holistics Co-Op.
“We had a vision of creating a space where not only we can sell our little piece of a natural cooperative, but also with a very huge goal of zero waste. That is really what we wanted to focus on,” Howell says.
Two of the three buildings that once housed the Pitt Surf Shop & Boardriders Grill on the bypass in Kill Devil Hills had already been taken over by women with health-oriented businesses, including Fulcher’s Ascension as well as Shine on Juicery, a juice and raw foods shop. The quartet decided a co-op would be a perfect addition for the third building on the property. The women now lovingly refer to the spot as “The Compound.”
Or, as Howell says, “The Compound of Awesome.”
To meet their zero-waste goal, the co-op provides bulk foods, spices, herbs, cooking and body oil, and locally made laundry detergent that can be filled in your own container, as well as different kinds of household cleaning products. They even have refillable lip balm. The women are dedicated to this mission because they are conscious of how their businesses are linked to the environment.
“We see the impact on our beaches that packing and transportation and all of that has, and what can we do? We can start small,” says Howell.
The co-op is also dedicated to ordering from ethical, organic, and U.S.- and small-farm grown sources. Alexis Conyers, who used to have to order her ethically made products online or while traveling is especially excited to have a local place to shop for things she can feel good about.
“Just being able to buy things in bulk and use our own containers will make a huge difference to our environmental impact, which is valued locally as part of our culture,” says Conyers. “It also places money into the hands of women in our community, which will, in turn, be passed onto most everyone around her, because that’s what women do, we give.”
Maria Williamson, 42, of Nags Head says she’s lived on the Outer Banks for 10 years and has missed having somewhere to buy bulk food items locally. Finally, there’s somewhere she can go, she says.
“I’m so happy Hi Vibe exists.”
The co-op’s founders are constantly inviting new local vendors who share their goals, from small batch apothecaries to a local flower company called Flower Girl, which makes beautiful everlasting wreaths with dried flowers.
“It’s amazing. Their energy, timing, and concept is spot on,” says Kim Meacham, co-owner of Milk Street Soap Company, a co-op vendor that sells sustainable laundry detergent and soap.
The co-op is hosting a huge Earth Day celebration in honor of the businesses in the compound. Workshops will be held April 22 through 24. Topics include incense and candle making, everyday herbalism, family-friendly meditation, rock and shell painting, intuitive tea blending and more. The event culminates with a Saturday celebration that will feature music and the unveiling of a community garden.
Creating a safe space where people can shop and learn is important to the co-op, but zero-waste is the primary goal.
“Less waste doesn’t mean you can’t have high-quality products, it just means you come in and fill up your own containers,” says Howell. “It only takes a spark for a wildfire, and we hope to be that spark in the community.”
What: Hi Vibe Holistics Co-Op
Where: 1209 S. Croatan Hwy., Kill Devil Hills
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org, @HiVibeHolistics on Facebook