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Conversations with David Rouse

Today we’d like to introduce you to David Rouse.

Hi David, it’s an honor to have you on the platform. Thanks for taking the time to share your story with us – to start maybe you can share some of your backstories with our readers?
Off the Bottle Refill Shop is a one-stop locale specializing in eco-friendly and low-waste home and body products. Our mission is to provide an alternative shopping experience by leaving excessive packaging and single-use plastics out of the equation.

We invite our guests to bring their own containers and allow us to fill them with as little or much of their product of choice, priced by weight. Off the Bottle also sells new glass and aluminum containers, as well as an assortment of pump tops and other DIY low-waste lifestyle accessories. We carry head-to-toe body care products, laundry, and dish detergents, cleaning agents, soaps, shampoos, toothpaste, brushes, sponges, and much more.

Always environmentally minded, David and Daniel of Off the Bottle have worked together on a few projects including Osa Mariposa, a vegan/vegetarian beachside travel hostel in Puerto Escondido, Oaxaca, Mexico. The pair decided to embark on a new mission out of frustration and disgust at the growing plastic waste and pollution problem and began working on what would become Off the Bottle Refill shop in February of 2021.

The service area of the shop is built of purely recycled wood and reclaimed materials. Many of the products offered are locally sourced, all are plant-based and fully biodegradable.

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
Opening the shop during the COVID-19 pandemic has been trying. The shop build-out took some time, as almost all of the materials were up-cycled and needed considerable work before they became useable for the build, but it all came together without any major milestones. However, sourcing products was difficult in that manufacturers or producers were suffering from the disruptions in the supply chain and often some of the ingredients they needed to make their products weren’t available. There were and are plenty of delays. Shipping sometimes still comes with its own set of issues. Prices are high.

We have never owned a retail business before so that learning curve has been large. Determining how to store, sell, and record a variety of products sold by weight has taken some time. Sourcing truly non-toxic products were actually pretty intense. We’ve vetted every ingredient to make sure it passes our strict guidelines as to what constitutes a genuinely “green” or environmentally friendly product. There is a lot of greenwashing going on out there.

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work?
Art and expression have always been at the forefront of my life. I’ve always felt a need to be responsible in my life and, in that sense, have never been able to surrender completely to art. As a kind of compromise, I’ve always found a way to be artsy in business. From Paco Garden Records, a record label I developed fresh out of high school, to Osa Mariposa, a bohemian beach hotel equipped with a full-service restaurant and bar, art and design have been the focus.

I’ve always looked for a way to make enough money to survive happily while allowing me to create. Essentially, I’ve explored options that include people paying me to create. Rather than have a well-defined career or style, my professional life has included work as a musician, illustrator, writer, graphic designer, photographer, landscape artist and installer, producer, tattooer, chef, painter, and business owner.

I designed Off the Bottle Refill Shop, the original Osa Mariposa, and published the book “The BODYGUARD Travel Companion Cookbook: A Vegan Food Guide for Mexico and Central America,” as well as “Walk: A Southbound Descent Over Land from Los Angeles to Tierra del Fuego. In the past, I have contributed to photo shows, art shows, played on and produced a number of albums, and even worked as a DJ in both Denver and Oaxaca City, Mexico.

Do you have any advice for those just starting out?
Both Daniel and myself have always operated with the faith that what we were doing would work. That’s not to say that we never had moments of doubt, but we tend to push through blindly and just believe that everything will come together. More often than not, we just jump in and fight through it, learning along the way.

Had we been told everything that we might have to go through before initializing a project, we may have been scared out of it doing it at all. My only advice for someone who wants to create something is to truly listen to your spirit and intuition. Follow your vision and trust that it will come together. There will be low times and difficulties, but if what you do is genuine and you enjoy doing it, people will see that.

They will support you. Be cool. Be humble, be smart, work hard, and believe in your endeavor.

Pricing:

  • Refill products are priced by the ounce. Buy as little or as much as you like.
  • We sell new glass jars and bottles from $2.00 to $15.00
  • We offer a free glass recycling program. There are always free glass containers available as an option for transporting products.
  • Our pricing is competitive and reflects high-quality, non-toxic ingredients.
  • General prices range from $0.35 to $65.

Contact Info:


Image Credits:

David Rouse

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