home in 2018, but grew so rapidly that they had to quickly
rent a 1,100-square-foot warehouse. Almost immediately,
they had to break the lease and move to a bigger, more functional
Port St. Lucie Magazine 11
Located in an industrial business development center near
the New York Mets training complex in St. Lucie West, its
sales, improbably, just wouldn’t stop increasing.
In early 2018, Cieslinski quit her job at a wildlife sanctuary
and wondered what was next. Always someone with strong
environmental awareness and consciousness, she and Follano
began discussing the possibility of converting her awareness
Follano, an entrepreneur and tech savvy executive, had just
sold a health insurance business and was also up for the next
adventure. He loaned Cieslinski $10,000 in startup money
and the business was born. This would be the last of their
own money they would need to put into the venture.
Then just 23 years old, Cieslinski dug in for what would
become a run of enormous success.
Follano’s tech experience allowed him to build the website
that would attract like-minded consumers. Six months after
the couple first discussed the possible startup, they launched
the website in July 2018.
The criteria for selling a product on Zerowastestore.com
are strict and all under the same dynamic of sustainability,
linking toward long-term improvement in the environment.
No toxic chemicals are found in their product lines and,
The creators of Zerowastestore.com, JJ Follano and Sarah Cieslinski participate
on beach cleanup day, acting locally and thinking globally.
Cieslinski put her company’s motto into action and her e-commerce venture
went from $0 to $1 million in sales.
Cieslinski says, “we just make sure the brand on the website
has created the product ethically, no sweat shops, sustainably
sourced, as little plastic as possible. If it’s not 100% plastic
free we know they’re moving toward that option.”
The product range is wide and materials diverse, from individual
powder toothpaste tablets replacing plastic tubes to
biodegradable dog waste bags made of flour meal. The bamboo
toothbrushes have castor bean bristles. At the end of their
useful life, the wood and plant fiber cleaning and scrubbing
brushes can be buried in the garden to naturally decompose
or be composted.
They’re also committed to lowering carbon emissions. By delivering
their products via the U.S. Postal Service, which comes
to every address nearly every day, instead of FedEx or UPS,
they eliminate the extra gas required for that specific delivery.
“The first month, we got five orders,” Cieslinski says,
“mostly from friends and family.” And initially the idea
looked much like any new undertaking being run from a
spare room in an entrepreneur’s home. “And I thought that
would be fine,” Cieslinski says. “JJ told me if I could make
$1,000 a month that would be awesome, just a little extra to
supplement our income.”
But then, things took off.
“The first few months I focused on building the brand, on
partnerships, social media and it was crazy,” Cieslinski says.
“We blew up immediately. The mailman hated us.”