Meet A Member: Niki McDowell
A Green Business Network Member Spotlight
Meet Niki McDowell, owner of Green Clean Designs located in Grandview, Mo. We recently talked with Niki to learn more about how her business is working to keep materials out of the landfill while bringing her clients one-of-a-kind, high design, yet affordable office furniture and decor.
In a 5,000-square-foot renovated warehouse at the corner of 7th and Main Street in Grandview, Mo., Niki McDowell is combining her knowledge of the used office furniture industry with her creativity and passion for connecting with the community around her. Her business, Green Clean Designs, offers companies unique office designs and office décor made from reused and often sustainable materials – all with a stamp of originality.
The building itself was built in 1915 and, McDowell says, was originally used as a warehouse for staging goods coming off and on the nearby railroad. A glance up at the ceilings reveals reclaimed lumber she says are believed to have been taken from old railroad boxcars once they were no longer used.
“I love being in a reclaimed building and doing stuff with reclaimed materials,” says McDowell.
It’s a relaxed atmosphere – her black-and-white border collie, BB, is likely to greet visitors at the door with a request for a belly rub. A maze-like collection of large cardboard boxes in the back serves as a play fort for her children when they spend time at the office with her. Nearby, a ping pong table stands ready for a friendly match of table tennis.
The rest of the bright and elegantly simple building is filled with projects Niki is currently working on for clients, along with a few areas staged with examples of her designs for inspiration, and pieces of office furniture waiting to find their new home.
“When I’m working for a client, I love to incorporate that one piece that people are going to remember – something you can’t find anywhere else.”
While she’s only been in the building since May of 2018, it didn’t take long for McDowell to discover the richness of the community surrounding her new work home and to solidify new partnerships with the businesses around her that are now central to her work.
As she acquires used office furniture from across the country and locally, she works with her neighbors of craftsmen and artists to incorporate their waste materials or recycled art into updated pieces for her clients.
“Grandview Top – the countertop maker right across the street – will save big pieces of laminate for me that, for whatever reason, got dinged up and they can’t use,” says McDowell.
“I’ll also get large rolls of leftover fabric from Cover Up Interiors in Grandview, and I work with Dawn at Trash Studio who takes reclaimed wood and makes these funky, colorful new pieces that I can offer my clients. And Charles at C & C Boards, one of the wood workers I work with has started saving stuff that Dawn can use in her projects.”
“It’s been really interesting to see how it’s all come together. We have this network of community that’s pretty amazing.”
McDowell, who has worked as a consultant in the used office furniture industry for 10 years, opened Green Clean Designs after realizing that she wanted to interact more directly with clients to design new and unique office furniture using repurposed materials.
McDowell says her interest in the sustainability aspect of her business and repurposing materials to keep them out of the landfill likely comes from time spent during her childhood going to auctions with her family.
“And my dad was really big on not littering. I remember that.”
She joined the Green Business Network after discovering the program while helping Bridging The Gap locate used sit-to-stand desks for its office.
“I knew it was something I wanted to be a part of. Once you’re bit by that [sustainability] bug, you want to do as much as you can.”