Roan Skye: Annalise Stack, Rye, NY
A consultant providing easy ways to create a stylishly comfortable and 100% healthy home
Creating a home that supports easy, unencumbered and healthy living goes a long way towards making daily life run on well-oiled wheels. Imagine a home that is organized yet relaxed, functional yet comfortable, unfussy but also beautiful and one that is also allergen- and toxicity-free. That’s casual living paired with environmental consciousness. It’s also the ethos behind Roan Skye, healthy home design consultant Annalise Stack’s business, a 38-year old mother of three who focuses on greening children’s nurseries, bedrooms and playrooms. Community Capital provided a small business loan to make her knowledge of the right materials to turn a house into a healthy home—including lead and chemical free paints, allergen-free flooring, toxic-free furniture, and the best air purifiers—only a phone call away.
How did you get your start in the business of designing healthy homes?
I worked for Starwood Hotels as a business analyst for a long time. Then in 2006, when my first daughter was six months old she was so asthmatic that we spent so much time going back and forth to the emergency room, hooking her up to nebulizers and putting her on steroids, I drove there on autopilot. Then two years later, it was the same thing. My second baby was severely asthmatic. At the time I was focused on green hotels for Starwoods. The company was investing in allergen-free environments. I got my LEED certification (Leadership in Environmental and Energy Design) and an MBA in Sustainability in 2008 and began looking at my home differently. I took out all the rugs and carpets, painted the whole house in paints with no VOCs (volatile organic compounds—most noticeable in paint smells that give you headaches). I put air purifiers in all the rooms. I threw out everything that had chemicals—all the cleaners and all my perfumes because they had fragrance. Phthalates is a chemical that makes plastic soft and makes a fragrance last longer. It was in everything from baby shampoos to my expensive perfumes, and it’s been associated with childhood disease because it interrupts the endocrine system. I went beyond surfaces and discovered the house had a hidden water problem; there was mold behind the dry wall. We replaced the walls to alleviate bronchial problems—mold spores come through the vents. I began to work with friends, and local families, on renovations, new builds, helping to choose the right paints, the right building products, even choosing baby products from utensils for infants to onesies. I helped a mother with Lupus and women with babies on the spectrum for autism with product recommendations and they reported improvement in their and their children’s health within 24 hours. I realized it was a fulltime job to work with their contractors, to do the research on products specific to each child and home, and to create the initial personalized reports.
Why the focus on nurseries and children’s rooms?
With my first child, I went to the mall and bought everything new, never realizing that all new furniture gives off gases. With my second, I replaced the crib with one of sustainable wood made with no chemicals or adhesives. Antique, secondhand or vintage furniture is better because the gases are gone. Making choices like Benjamin Moore Notura paint in any color and finish, Dragonfly Organix cleaners, Therapure air purifiers, VOC-free adhesive and VOC-free cabinets, and green insulation and simple changes in shampoos and conditioners, even sheets, can make a big difference in a child’s health.
How did your business get off the ground?
Community Capital gave me a $25,000 loan to start up, which let me create a website and a home office, develop a brand, Roan Skye, marketing materials, and then provided webinars, and constant business support, including workshops and networking. No bank was willing to give me a loan to launch my business and I needed to invest in these essential first building blocks.
How did your business evolve?
My business grows largely through referrals. I worked with the At Home Day Care Center in Rye and helped them with a light renovation. We got rid of all the traditional cleaning products used at the day care center used to clean the toys, replacing them with effective but healthy cleaners for nurseries. Simple things—like advising them to keep windows open to let fresh air in—and buying BPA-free plastic toys made a big difference. I’ve worked with two young women who run two entirely green day care centers which serve only organic foods.
What did you wish you knew?
I would have loved to have had a business partner. You find yourself really bogged down, doing all the marketing and advertising, and there is not as much time to work with the clients. I am a relatively shy person, and I would have loved to have a more gregarious partner to make presentations to nursery schools and day care centers, schools, and to places that work with children affected by ADD and allergies, so they know what the benefits are to having a space for children without toxins or chemicals. I’m doing a trade show called Greening Our Children, but when you are one person sitting at a table at a booth it’s hard to do more than just hand someone a brochure. You want to be able to have a conversation.
I’m hoping to get my MWBE (Minority and Women Owned Business) certification. I also want to begin marketing to fertility doctors; one of the most reputable ones in NYC just turned his waiting room completely green. It’s important for older women taking fertility medicines, who may have a history of antibiotics, and building up chemicals and toxins, to make small changes in their households beginning with a green nursery—crib bedding, onesies, organic and consciously environmental purchases.
Roan Skye, http://roanskye.blogspot.com/
66 Milton Road
Rye, NY 10580