Robin Wilson Touts Benefits of Eco-Healthy Lifestyle
Black Enterprise Magazine September/October 2018 Issue

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Seemingly everywhere we look, “green” — of the environmental variety — is the new black. While it is trendy and uber-relevant in 2010, back in 2000 the term green only really referred to money, and not eco-friendly design. Enter entrepreneur Robin Wilson, who by 2000 had already built her company, Robin Wilson Home, on the principle of having her clients make choices about their environment that moved them closer to a positive state of well being.

Through the years her renovation, project management, and design firm has detoxified homes for cancer patients, sold eco-friendly home décor at –her online marketplace–and eco-renovated former President Bill Clinton’s office in Harlem.

So, it was no surprise that Robert F. Kennedy Jr. chose Wilson as the interior designer for his re-built LEED certified home in Mount Kisco, New York. After a flood, black mold grew in his 1920s clapboard home, causing his children to develop pneumonia, asthma, and allergies. He demolished the house because no matter how hard the family cleaned the mold always came back.

Wilson, who is in her late 30s, was empathetic to the family’s plight. As a young girl she had been hospitalized multiple times because of asthma. So, while designing for the Kennedys she wanted to reduce their home’s energy output and conserve water, but also eliminate substances that could trigger the family’s allergies. She incorporated renewable linens and textiles, recycled furniture and countertops, energy star appliances, sustainable bath fixtures, and from her own collection, non-toxic kitchen cabinetry by Robin Wilson Home.

Designing the Kennedy home was a welcome distraction because like most designers, the recession hit Wilson hard. She had to lay off an employee and move to a smaller showroom. Although she declines to say by how much her revenues fell in 2009, she credits her survival to a licensing agreement with Holiday Kitchens to sell Robin Wilson Home Kitchen Cabinetry through 500 dealers nationwide.

Wilson, the 2008 Black Enterprise Business Innovator of the Year, is also excited about two new endeavors: the May debut of her line of bamboo cotton towels at and the April publication of her first book “Kennedy Green House: Designing an Eco-Healthy Home from the Foundation to the Furniture,” (Greenleaf Book Group Press, $30) which chronicles the Kennedy home gut renovation and redesign.

Wilson sat down with Black Enterprise in her New York showroom to discuss the book, the benefits of eco-friendly interior design, and affordable ways to go green. How do you feel having worked with such a prestigious family like the Kennedys?

Robin Wilson: I am thrilled that the Kennedy family gave Robin Wilson Home an opportunity to showcase our platform and to educate consumers [that green design] from the foundation to the furniture can be beautiful. I’m excited…Bobby is an environmentalist with Water Keeper Alliance and Riverkeeper, [two organizations that advocate for clean water]. Now he is walking the walk and the talk in his own life.

You design homes and you also bring in the eco-friendly element. How did you get started in both of those areas and decide to make them one?

I have asthma and allergies. I grew up blowing my nose all of the time, wheezing and sneezing. My belief is your home is your ecosystem. Your ecosystem starts with what you put inside of you, where you are living, where you are working, and all of the things that you bring into those spaces. When you talk about design, I don’t think I should just focus on the foundation or the furniture. Because I have [this] health condition, everything I do has to be geared towards how I live [and] how my clients with children that have asthma and allergies will live.

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Marcia Wade Talbert

Marcia is a multimedia content producer focusing on technology at Black Enterprise Magazine. In this capacity she writes and assigns stories to educate readers about social media; digital integration; gadgets, apps, and software for business and professional development; minority tech startups; and careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). In 2012, she received two Salute to Excellence Awards from the National Association of Black Journalists and was recognized by Blacks in Technology (BiT) as one of the Top 10 Black achievers in the tech arena for 2011 at SXSW in Austin, Texas. She has spoken about technology on panels for New York Social Media Week, at The 2012 Rainbow/PUSH Wall Street Summit, as well as at Black Enterprise’s Entrepreneurs Conference and Women of Power Summit. In 2011, chose her as one of 28 People of Color Impacting the Social Web, and through crowdsourcing she was listed as one of BlackWeb2.0's/HP's 50 Most Notable African American Tastemakers in Social Media and Technology for 2010. Since taking on the role of Tech editor in September 2010, she has conceived and produced five cover stories on Technology and/or STEM and countless articles, videos, and slideshows online. Before joining as an interactive general assignment reporter in 2008, she freelanced with Black Enterprise beginning in 2003 while working as the technical editor at Prepared Foods magazine. There she further honed her writing skills and became an authority on food ingredients, including ingredients used in food fortification and enrichment. Meanwhile, her freelancing with Black Enterprise and helped her stay current on issues pertaining to the financial and business welfare of African Americans. As a general reporter for Black Enterprise she attended and reported on the Democratic and Republican National Conventions, where she interviewed Valerie Jarrett, senior advisor and assistant to President Barack Obama and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. Marcia has a Bachelor of Science degree in Agriculture with an emphasis in food science from the University of Minnesota, and a Master of Science degree in journalism from Roosevelt University in Chicago. En route to her secondary degree, she served as the editor-in-chief of the Roosevelt University Torch, a weekly, student-run newspaper. An avid photographer and videographer, Marcia is one of several employees at BLACK ENTERPRISE who interned for the publishing company as a college student. She lives in New Jersey with her husband, a food scientist; her seventeen-month-old daughter; and “The Cat”, but still considers Chicago home.