Meet Mary of The Pale Blue Dot
Mary Luciani is the founder of The Pale Blue Dot, an earth-friendly general store and apothecary in the heart of downtown Hamilton, Ontario. We get excited about environmentally-conscious organizations and small businesses, especially here in Southern Ontario. So we thought we'd ask Mary some questions and share the conversation with you.
Did anything in your childhood point you toward a future in entrepreneurship?
This question made me chuckle because the telltale signs were definitely there. When I was about nine-years-old, I asked my parents if I could get a hamster. As their way of saying “no”, without really having to say it, they told me if I could pay for the hamster and all the essentials, I could get one.
Thus began my budding career as an entrepreneur. My best friend and I took to the kitchen every weekend to prepare for our weekly street-side mini-muffin stand. We sold our baked goods to neighbours and, before long, I was heading to the pet store with my earnings.
What was your inspiration for creating Pale Blue Dot?
The idea stemmed from my personal goal to reduce unnecessary plastics and toxic ingredients in my everyday life. This started with grocery store plastic, personal care products, and so on.
The more I focused on this way of life, the more apparent the global problem became to me. This was not only a crisis of protecting the health of the planet, but the health of people, as well. As I dug deeper and learned of the serious effects synthetics were inflicting on living organisms, the fire fueling my mission grew even stronger.
Why did you choose to name the shop Pale Blue Dot?
The inspiration behind our name stems from the great Carl Sagan.
In 1990, NASA sent Voyager 1 out into the depths of space. As the spacecraft reached the monumental milestone of Saturn’s rings (the farthest distance we'd ever reached), Carl Sagan suggested the camera be turned around and a snapshot of Earth be taken. What was captured in that moment would soon become one of the most iconic images of our planet.
From this vantage point, Earth appeared as a morsel of blue light. A pale blue dot.
Who's inspired you significantly in your business and/or life, in general? How so?
A dear friend, and complete stranger, named Elizabeth Gilbert. After reading Big Magic, I began to practice looking beyond fear when an opportunity presented itself. I fully embraced what my heart wanted and saying “yes” to these opportunities became my way of honouring this life. I was emboldened to live beyond my comfort levels and to, just, trust that even if I failed… it’s all part of it. I didn’t have a business degree, no five year plan, just a big dream and a whole lot of passion.
What are a few activities that people can do to take care of our planet?
Plant a garden! Let your hands be in the soil and sow some seeds. Or, simply start a compost pile. Tending to and remediating soil is one of the most powerful impacts we can have, and you can do it in your own community or backyard (think global, act local)!
Do you have any favourite plants to grow, and if so, what are they?
Yes! I adore tending to our Tulsi plants. It's also known as Holy Basil or Sacred Basil, and is referred to as “the most sacred plant on Earth” in the ancient Vedic texts.
She has the sweetest fragrance and offers an abundance of gifts to us including the easing of stress. Tulsi has been revered for centuries, in many cultures, due to her ability to bring clarity and lightness to the body, mind, and spirit.
I look forward everyday in the growing season to sitting and pruning the Tulsi plants and enjoying tea from her leaves and flowers. The entire experience is medicine!
What're your favourite stationery items? Writing instrument?
I am a sucker for stationery. I’ve been known to over purchase notebooks and then 'save' them for some future project down the road. I also love a good notepad - I love the feel of the indentations on the page from the previous note or list.
That being said, my favourite stationary item is none-other than a glorious liquid ink pen. *chefs kiss*
Are you right-handed or left-handed?
What's your favourite ink colour(s)?
Black all day!
What are the best books you've ever read?
My favourite books are:
- Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teaching of Plants by Robin Wall Kimmerer
- Meditations by Marcus Aurelius
- The Secret Life of Plants: A Fascinating Account of the Physical, Emotional and Spiritual Relations Between Plants and Man by Peter Tompkins & Christopher Bird
Where in the Niagara and Hamilton regions do you enjoy spending time in the spring and summer months?
I'm very much a homebody, however, I'm always craving a quiet walk through a forest, or a stroll in a historic area. Westfield Heritage Village, the Dundurn Kitchen Gardens, and Ireland House are some of my favourites out Hamilton way!
Next week, you're in for another treat. In honour of Mother's Day, we'll be featuring an interview with the mom of Figg Street Co.'s founder!