b. kind, a boutique and collaborative event space now open on Farmington Avenue, is also a supporter of local artisan and businesses, including the WeHa Unified Business Club and their line of “Crookshanks” products.
By Ronni Newton
Victoria Gleixner has found personal success and healing through the use of natural wellness products, but the items she was looking for haven’t always been readily available.
“There wasn’t a place where I could find all those organic products I live by,” said Gleixner, a West Hartford resident and graduate of Northwest Catholic High School.
“I’ve always lived my life this way,” she said, and other than through Amazon, there was no single place to find the products she used.
After graduating from the University of New Hampshire, Gleixner planned to go to law school. “I had all my applications ready,” she said, but while working temporarily at Ten Thousand Villages in the Center she was inspired, and with the support of her husband, Sebastian Skarba, Gleixner decided to open her own store.
b. Kind is located in the former Elizabeth Grady Salon space at 1000 Farmington Ave. in West Hartford Center.
Nearly every single product b. kind sells is American-made, and all are pesticide-, insecticide-, toxin-, and dye-free. There are a wide ranges of products, including lotions, candles, towels, bedding, pillows, cocktail mixers, and sunscreen.
Many of the products are created from sustainable, up-cycled, compostable, and reusable materials.
In addition to a retail space, b. kind is also a collaborative event space, hosting wellness specialists from a variety of disciplines, including massage therapists, nutritionists, and yoga classes.
A key element of b. kind’s mission is support for the local community, Gleixner is already partnering with several businesses from West Hartford and the surrounding area, including artist Stefanie Marco Lantz’s Kindspin Designs, With Love products made from refurbished barn pieces, and cutting boards handmade by 17-year-old West Hartford resident Eli Braverman.
“We have gotten a lot of community members coming in looking for ‘West Hartford’ items,” said Gleixner, pointing out an “06107” pillow.
The ultimate West Hartford products are those she stocks from the WeHa Unified Business Club.
The WeHa Unified Business Club is an after school club that brings together kids from Conard and Hall, with and without disabilities, to create micro-businesses. The goal is to have the teens work together, and allow kids with special needs to “graduate with a skill, have a business,” said club organizer Darlene Borre, whose son is a member.
“I’m thinking my son is 18. What happens when he’s 21?” Borre said. “We know 90 percent of kids with autism are unemployed, and in West Hartford we can do better.” Having a business gives purpose.
The club has been working with colleges and their maker spaces, to create businesses or services that can make an impact locally.
And in West Hartford, the hot commodity these days is anything with an image of Crookshanks on it.
Crookshanks is a fluffy gray and white cat that belongs to the Clement family on Newport Avenue. He’s friendly to most people, but definitely an”alpha” personality who chases other cats as well as dogs that are three or four times his size.
After Crookshanks “broke into” the Four Mile Road home of Amy Wadsworth, tormenting her and her pets, and she posted about his antics on the Neighbors and Friends in West Hartford Facebook page, the cat’s mystique took on a life of its own. The initial post garnered 271 comments, and there have been many more posts about Crookshanks.
He’s been asked to attend birthday parties, blamed for potholes, missing newspapers, criminal activity, loud fireworks, and bad service, and has become the subject of many memes.
We-Ha.com recently interviewed Crookshanks himself, but that’s a story for another day.
Crookshanks has also been suggested as a mascot for various organizations, and that’s exactly what he has become for the WeHa Unified Business Club.
“He’s great, he’s funny, he’s weird,” said Borre.
West Hartford artist Julie Phillipps designed a “claws out” Crookshanks logo. “In an age when we’re so polarized, it’s something we can all agree on. Sometimes we all just have a ‘claws out’ type of day,” Borre said.
Crookshanks t-shirts were created with the logo, and the WeHa Unified Business members carefully and lovingly fold each one, inserting a note with their name on it. Borre said that at least 50 shirts have already been sold for $20 each.
Now there are Crookshanks car magnets and notepads for sale at b. kind. Cotton grocery bags and baby onesies with the Crookshanks logo will soon be available as well, Borre said. She said Phillipps is working on a second Crookshanks pose to add to the collection as well.
For more information about b. kind, visit their Facebook page.
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