Jen is sailor and traveler, environmentalist, communicator, event planner, nonprofit manager, lover of the ocean and the outdoors, yoga teacher, writer, and mother. Jen spent over a year living aboard a sailboat with her family and traveling 8,000+ nautical miles along the US, Canadian and Mexican coasts. She saw plastic everywhere, and realized the need for reducing single-use plastics from our oceans. Since the fall of 2018, when her friends urged her to start that store she keeps talking about, Jen has devoted her energy to seeing this dream become reality.
Jen has raised two children in Anchorage, AK and wants to be an active part of ensuring that their generation and those who follow them have access to a clean and bountiful ocean and earth. She hopes that this business will not only fill a need for sustainable shopping in Anchorage, but will serve as a springboard for change in Anchorage’s purchasing habits.
Jen is the sole proprietor of two businesses - Jen Gordon Consulting and Yoga with Jen. She has nearly two decades of experience working as a board member and volunteer manager for grassroots nonprofit organizations and schools in Anchorage, including the Alaska Marine Conservation Council.
Jen's Inspiration - in her own words
After sailing with my family for over a year up and down the west coast of North America, it hit me hard when my 17-year-old son declared one day that he was not planning to ever have children because he didn't see any point in bringing people into a toxic place where our natural world was collapsing before our very eyes, where citizens of the world don't care about our environment. He believed that they would never change their ways. I was shocked to hear this hopelessness from someone so young.
Then one day a friend challenged me: she suggested that I try to not purchase any single-use plastics for a month, and if I did purchase something, I was required to put the offending plastic aside in a "bag of shame" and take a photo of it at the end of the month. Things like the plastic cap on a glass bottle counted, straws in a drink at a restaurant, plastic wrapping around a glass container.
I posted this challenge on Facebook and received an enormously positive response. As I posted pictures of my shopping cart with loose fruits and vegetables instead of wrapped in plastic and cheeses wrapped in waxed paper, friends wrote in saying they had begun to think more carefully about which items they purchased. For example, if they had a choice between two granola bars and one of them had plastic wrapping while the other had paper compostable paper, they chose the latter.
I am not a perfect environmentalist. I still drive a non-hybrid car. I have a box of gallon ziplocks in my drawer that I will cherish and use as infrequently as possible since they will need to last the rest of my life now that I have made this commitment.
But I am trying. I am shifting. I have decided it is time to walk my talk. To be the change I want to see.
Thus, the seed was planted.
As a mother, localvore “foodie,” gardener, composter, tree and mountain-climber, kayaker, SCUBA-diver, world traveler, food co-op co-founder, lawyer, 10-year Spenard resident, consumer, and a passionate "zero-waste" proponent, Jess saw the need and potential for a local-focused, community oriented, minimal-waste (yuck, plastics!) neighborhood grocery.
Jess is inspired by her son, family, friends, and neighbors to be part of something that enhances the community and gives back to the planet. Jess envisions Blue Market as your friendly neighborhood grocer for a one-stop ethical, sustainable, and convenient shopping experience.
In October 2018, Jess resigned her day job as an attorney to focus on other passions--her six-year old son and Blue Market AK being her current nearest and dearest. Jess envisions herself working hand-in-hand with Jen as a co-manager in the vision, planning and execution of this endeavor.
Jess is the sole proprietor of “A Classic City Cottage,” a vacation rental management business. Along with being a busy mother, she is a neighborhood community organizer, volunteering her time with various groups and non-profits as a volunteer and board member. Jess has been an Alaskan tour guide, worked in retail, was a Presidential Management Fellow, and spent the last 13 years of her legal career working as a policy advisor and attorney for a Federal agency.
Jess' Inspiration - in her own words
Like many people who care about their community and the planet, I had a slow awakening in my personal journey to zero, or less, waste. As someone who loves nature and the water, I was disturbed by the amount of plastic and garbage I would see along Alaska’s roadways, trails, and beaches or while SCUBA diving in Hawaii. It wasn’t enough to just clean up the one plastic water bottle at a time or to carry my own reusable steal straw for my son; I recognized a bigger movement was necessary to stem the tide of plastics at the source.
I was inspired by neighbors and friends joining the zero-waste movement to use my power as a consumer, and I recognized as a mother and community member that change was not only necessary but attainable. I started making small strides on a personal level to refuse the plastics and other waste coming into my home, going so far as to demonstrate some of the easy and more manageable steps folks can take to refuse, reduce, reuse, and recycle on KTVA’s “Harvesting Alaska” segment (September 2018) and joining the Anchorage Co-Op steering committee, as a voice for the local and zero-waste food movements.
Zero waste started as an aspiration for me, and as I’ve made the journey to less waste, I started to realize some of the barriers and challenges I was facing on a personal level, and that seemed to be shared experiences in the Alaska zero-waste movement. Namely, the resources are scattered, difficult to ascertain, and inconvenient. I knew I would never be 100% zero waste, but why did it have to be so hard to get close to that number?
I would spend a lot of time and effort, not to mention increasing my carbon footprint, researching sustainable and local options, driving around various locations around Anchorage (and the state) to get my jars filled from bulk bins or to get a large jug of shampoo from a local producer to refill my own small bottles. I would spend long periods waiting for the one store employee at the grocery store who was available to tare my containers from home so I could fill them. I had to wait for the once-a-year markets to find my locally made beeswax wraps or other products that support a zero-waste lifestyle. I signed up for seasonal CSAs and sporadically timed milk herd-shares, and I wait for the few days a week the year-round farmers market is open. Silver lining to these efforts-- I increased my "community" and made many connections in the local food/makers arena and with local zero-waste advocates.
My efforts were frankly exhausting and I realized a one-stop shop, where the products are curated to be as unpackaged, sustainable, local, and ethical as possible would make life healthier and more convenient for myself and hopefully many others.
The idea to open a zero waste store started sprouting back in the fall of 2018, right around when I quit my day job as Senior Counsel at a Federal agency. I feel so fortunate to have met Jen--a woman of vision and similar passions-- and to share this journey with her and our amazing team of advisors in bringing Blue Market AK to Anchorage!