Adria Hall of Sustainable Living Shop Koko Offers 'Sustainability for Everyone'

Koko offers refillery services

Nicholas Youngblood
Adria Hall at Koko

Adria Hall cites single-use packaging as an inherent source of waste for most retailers. That’s why her sustainability shops in Clintonville and the Hilltop area also serve as refilleries. The store, which she named Koko, stocks bulk dispensers of products such as toiletries and cleaning supplies that customers can use to refill permanent containers.

It’s a concept that is cropping up in large coastal cities, but one Hall says she had trouble finding in the Midwest. With all of the chatter about sustainability, Hall wanted to help Central Ohio find eco-friendly products that are doing it right.

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Hall started her personal, sustainable-living journey at a young age, raised by a mother she affectionately calls “a little bit of a crunchy hippie.” A public relations graduate of Ohio University, she has worked with large companies, including Express, and founded a few other businesses including one that focused entirely on events. When the pandemic hit, she was the events manager for the Columbus YWCA.

At Koko, the young entrepreneur stocks a wide range of beauty and skincare products as well as long-lasting home goods. Sustainability doesn’t have to mean adopting an ascetic, minimalist lifestyle. Another important element of accessibility for Hall is physical presence. With many niche lifestyle brands existing only online, she thinks it is important to give customers a brick-and-mortar location where they can see the products in person and ask questions.

Bars of soap at Koko

What inspired you to turn your passion for sustainability into a business? A lack of options here in Columbus, and the desire to do things differently—mostly to demystify sustainability and make it more accessible and fun. I traveled quite a bit for prior jobs and saw big cities and cities on the coasts with better options for lower-waste living, and I knew I wanted to bring that to the Midwest, to communities I love.

Have there been challenges introducing this shopping format to a Central Ohio audience? How have you overcome those roadblocks? In general, the biggest challenge most people face with creating less waste in their lives is a lack of information—there is so much anxiety around “doing it wrong” or “not doing enough.” That’s why I knew from day one that I wanted to make education and approachability a huge part of our mission, meeting our community and customers wherever they’re at in their pursuit of sustainability.

A central tenet of Koko is that “sustainability is for everyone.” How are you making sustainable living more accessible? A few ways we tackle accessibility: selecting products that work for a wide range of hair and skin types; working hard to balance quality with affordability; giving options for all budget ranges; providing in-store, online and curbside shopping options; and selecting store locations that can serve all communities.

Products at Koko

What is the number one thing you look for when deciding on products to stock? There are many factors I examine when I select products, but at the top of the list are packaging and brand transparency. I seek out products with minimal packaging that are reusable, refillable, compostable, biodegradable or recyclable, allowing our customers to reduce unnecessary waste. Understanding how a product is made, where it comes from, who is making it, what problem it solves and why the maker chose that method to solve the problem—this is all information I expect to be readily available from our brands.

This story is from the March 2022 issue of Columbus Monthly.