BY MANDY MILES
Debbie Lippi readily admits to being a shopaholic, which makes boutique ownership pretty much the ideal profession.
"So, yes, I get to shop every day -- for a living," said Lippi, while browsing through her own shop, The Green Pineapple, 1130 Duval St.
But for Lippi, who is also a psychologist, life coach and former social worker from South Jersey, her role as a store owner in a small community means much more than shopping, displaying and selling.
It's about empowering women in any way possible, and The Green Pineapple hosts monthly events that bring women and girls together to share stories and boost self confidence.
The Green Pineapple bills itself as "an eclectic marketplace for the conscious lifestyle," and features unique, one-of-a-kind, handmade and organic items that not only look good, but make the buyer feel good for purchasing something they know is good for them, good for the creator and good for the planet.
Lippi emphasizes the ideals of fair trade, a social movement that helps workers, artisans and craftspeople in developing countries receive a fair price for their handmade items that are sold in the United States and other countries.
Lippi lives by the same code and recently traveled to Morocco with her son to see fair trade practices in action.
"Fair trade certification allows women to use their skills to earn a salary and support themselves," Lippi said, adding that The Green Pineapple donated the first commercial sewing machine to a women's textile cooperative in Morocco, where Lippi buys many of her products, which include clothing, rugs, linens and handbags. "There's another movement I fully support known as 'slow fashion,' which emphasizes an awareness and a consciousness about how we produce things, where they come from and who benefits from them."
But all social movements, and feel-good priorities aside, The Green Pineapple is a large and welcoming space that draws patrons deeper and deeper into its elements. And despite its social awareness and conscientious commerce, the shop is casual and fun without being intimidating or inaccessible to all but the wealthiest of shoppers.
"We really have something for everyone," Lippi said. "We have ornaments and small items that start at $5 or $10, and then furniture pieces for hundreds of dollars."
Women move happily from a jewelry display to a handmade tote bag, and then to a rack of colorful tunics by Key West designer Jessica Duncan.
That's right, Lippi doesn't just want to help the artisans on other continents.
She supports local women as well.
"This store supports women; all women," she said. "Every product has its own story, and we carry a ton of upcyled and recycled items."
"I want one of everything," one woman exclaimed upon entering the spacious boutique with a soothing atmosphere.
And as if the shoppers weren't sufficiently delighted upon entering The Green Pineapple, they are downright giddy upon discovering Mark Certonio's Lush, an organic wine and chocolate bar in the back corner.
That's right, wine and chocolate. Need we say more?
Certonio holds regular tastings at the shop, while Lippi also hosts Saturday Style the third Saturday of every month, when a local woman is a featured speaker. Lippi then leads a discussion to improve self esteem and make women feel good about themselves.
And if that doesn't work, there's always retail therapy -- and wine and chocolate.