Prospering Company: EcoStore USA

Lyne Appel Downing knows moms.

She knows they have this way about them. They usually like what’s best for their children and have a tendency to not want toxins in their baby care products.

Downing, a Birmingham resident and mother herself, also knows a lot of them write their own blogs, and those blogs have readers.

So she sent a few free samples of the plant- and mineral-based baby and personal care products from her company, EcoStore USA, to a few of these mommy bloggers.

And it’s a move that is still paying off.

The bloggers tried the products on themselves and their children, loved them and decided to tell all their readers about EcoStore USA’s line of gentle and effective green products.

Downing never worried if the reviews would be positive or not. “We always knew I was a phenomenal review,” she says.

Word-of-mouth takes on a whole new meaning on the Internet, and as other mothers and consumers interested in personal care and home cleaning products with a trademark “No Nasty Chemicals,” Downing’s product started to create a buzz.

Now, two years after it started in 2008, Michigan-based EcoStore USA has its products in Meijer stores and the Duane Reed chain in New York. Weeks ago, the company just opened a renovated 37,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in Auburn Hills, where it plans to more and than double its staff.

Downing helped launch EcoStore USA back in 2008. It is the American sibling of EcoStore NZ, which started in New Zealand nearly 20 years ago. Downing, how is vice president of operations, says she and her the partners braved an exhaustive search of the best green products before settling on EcoStore NZ.

Acquiring Greenblendz, a Michigan-based eco-friendly manufacturer, in late 2009 enabled the company to not only sell, but make its products in the state.

“We were all Michiganders,” Downing says, “and we wanted it to be in Michigan.”

The company will continue its nationwide push, however, as it offers its products online and continues to search for retailers all over the country.

Downing says EcoStore USA, whose products have been glowingly reviewed by the independent consumerdatabase.com, is ultimately about more than running a business. It’s also about raising awareness to all the toxic, chemical and otherwise yucky additives that are in our everyday products.

“We want to get the word out,” she says.

It’s a long way from Downing’s previous life as a personal fitness and yoga instructor who was concerned about what was in the products her children were using. “I didn’t know anything about business,” she says.

She does now. EcoStore USA has managed to emerge as the real deal amid the confusing pack of “greenwashing” companies looking to capitalize on the green craze. “We’ve been on the right side since day one,” says Downing. “Our trademark is ‘No Nasty Chemicals.'”

With success and a presence in big cities like New York, is EcoStore USA soon to up and leave the economically struggling Michigan?

“We put $2.5 million into (the new facility),” says Downing. “We’re not going anywhere. Michigan is a great state.”

Her enthusiasm for her home state is almost as ardent as her enthusiasm for EcoStore USA’s products.

“I’m having the time of my life,” she says, “because I know products are incredible.”

For more information on EcoStore USA and/or to purchase its products, visit www.ecostoreusa.com. Products are also available at Meijer stores. For information on additives and toxins in personal care and cleaning products, visit www.ewg.org and www.healthychild.org.