Attention Ethical Shoppers

By Rona Berg / April 24, 2013


“The 21st century is the time for a green revolution,” says Paulette Cole, CEO and Creative Director of ABC Carpet & Home, a stylish, eclectic, iconic and utterly irre- sistible New York City design emporium. “We need to change the way we do things, and business needs to be a catalyst. Our role at ABC is to throw the pebble, create a ripple and inspire other businesses’ direction.”

Cole has taken her father’s traditional carpet store on 19th Street and Broadway, and transformed it into a sustainability mecca for those who shop with their val- ues in mind. The store holds seven levels of beautifully styled, sustainably sourced high-end home furnishings, natural and organic beauty brands, artisanal and hand- crafted interior design pieces, one-of-a- kind jewelry and gorgeous textiles—baby- soft blankets, whisper-weight cardigans, organic and bio-based bedding—from around the globe.

Paulette Headshot 3A visionary with an amazing eye, Cole spends much of her time traveling to the earth’s far corners to source stunning signature pieces that you never thought you wanted and suddenly must have. But the pull goes way beyond beauty.

Initially inspired by the birth of her daughter, Cole’s goals for ABC Carpet & Home are modeled on becoming a force for good in the world. “Motherhood was the first hit of inspiration, and then my interest in spirituality, which led me to use business as a platform to create change in the world,” says Cole. “I realized I wanted to invite in the healthiest possibilities for myself and the planet.”

Cole hired Amy Chender, now COO, as director of social responsibility. They drafted a mission template and began to create initiatives like GoodWood—sourc- ing furniture from responsibly managed forests or reclaimed or salvaged wood, and planting a tree, through the Climate Poverty reduction plan, for each piece sold. They worked with the Rainforest Alliance, “which helped to lead us and our suppliers to ethical sourcing,” says Cole.

They created the nonprofit ABC Home & Planet Foundation, and made a commitment to bringing the work of talented global artisans to the attention of New York City shoppers. “We see the indigenous design DNA becoming threatened by global development,” says Cole. But the ABC mission is always overlaid with a heaping dollop of style: “to hold the original ancient ingredients, but make it modern and accessible,” she says.

The design aesthetic is a powerful force behind everything, with the juxtaposition of modern textiles and ancient weaving techniques; soft, reclaimed wood chairs with strong, articulate lines. Right now, Cole is excited about bringing LED light into the home, shown in a romantic and structural way. “It’s functional art, to set a tone or mood, and it’s the totally responsible way to go,” she says

In the spirit of building bridges and break- ing down borders, ABC has also become a cul- tural draw. Deepak Chopra keeps an office on the mezzanine, where the Deepak Home Base hosts stylish events and benefits for climate change, the welfare of indigenous peoples, nature conservation and natural beauty. ABC Kitchen, the James Beard Foundation award- winning restaurant on the main floor, features innovative organic cuisine served up to a humming New York crowd.

“It’s important for people to take good care of themselves and vote with their dollars,” says Cole. “Raise the bar and make the invest- ment—people are worth it. ”

Rona Berg

Rona Berg

Editor-In-Chief at Organic Spa Magazine
Longtime journalist, author and current editor-in-chief of Organic Spa Media, Rona Berg is the former Editorial Director of ELLE and Deputy Style Editor for the New York Times Magazine, and she has contributed to and been quoted in dozens of publications. She co-chairs the Personal Care Committee of the non-profit Green Spa Network, is a Charter Advisory Board Member of the Nutritional Aesthetics Alliance, best-selling author of Beauty: The New Basics and Fast Beauty (Workman Publishing), and is a frequent speaker and guest on radio and television and at conferences around the globe.
Rona Berg

Latest posts by Rona Berg (see all)