Clifford Cotten and his wife, Yi Wang, have high hopes for, Attelia Baby, their just-opened store for baby accessories, toys and supplies at 184 Main Street.
“We want to shape people’s views and consciousness about the environment when they buy products for their children, and [to show them] how convenient some of these products are,” said Cotten. “We also want to carry high quality products. People throw poor-quality things away when they break. That is extremely wasteful.”
The duo recognize that sometimes it’s not easy being green, and aim for incremental improvements that add up. “We believe that each of us starts by being a little green today, and together we can make a big difference,” said Wang. “We try to feature products that are as environmentally friendly as possible. We try to have wood products, rather than plastic, for example, and try to offer things made out of recyclables.”
For example, even the most devoted environmentalist parent may elect not to wash cloth diapers while traveling, Attelia Baby offers the GroVia line of disposable cloth diapers, made with a blend of cotton and bamboo that is biodegradable. The store also features Haba wooden toys, made of regenerative materials.
The decision to open a retail outlet was a big step for Wang and Cotten. “She was already doing business on online,” the husband explained, “But we had an interest in doing something more substantial. This is her desire. This is her dream.”
Months of preparation led up to the store’s opening in early September, and the entrepreneurial team is still focused on stabilizing the business—which is open seven days a week.
“There were a lot of sleepless nights—and there still are,” says Cotten. “You always get nervous when you sink a lot of money into something and you don’t see someone coming in the front door, but we still operate online.”
Wang and Cotten met about five years ago when both were out jogging in Manhattan, and got married in 2009.
Cotten, a member of the National Guard, served two tours of duty in Iraq. The couple has a 19-month-old son, Haichen, and a 3-year-old daughter, Attelia. “Balancing time with kids and balancing time with each other definitely puts strains on everything,” says Cotten. In the name “Attelia,” both shop and daughter carry a Cotten family tradition that stretches back several generations.
Choosing Port Washington for the shop location was easy. “We looked all over,” said Cotten. “But the place we wanted to be in was Port Washington. We saw that there were a lot of young families here and a lot of parents pushing baby carriages around.”
Wang loves Port also. “It’s a very family-oriented place,” she feels. “There are so many parks, a great library and so many activities for kids.”
Wang, a native of China who came to the U.S. 20 years ago, began the business three years ago as website selling baby items to Chinese parents. Initially, she stressed safety. “Doing business online for those three years helped me accumulate a lot of knowledge about these types of products,” she said.