March 25, 2021
Written By: Shiloh Francis
On the corner of St. Joseph Street and Mount Rushmore Road in downtown Rapid City sits a haven. Upon entering your eyes are drawn to tables and shelves with large, spouted containers. The scent of handmade soap fills the air. Plants soak up the sunshine in large windows – one of which also doubles as a cozy reading nook.
As South Dakota’s first zero-waste store (and Rapid City’s only), Hippie Haven sells eco-friendly products to help you reduce your trash & your impact on the planet. The large containers are a part of a BYOC (bring your own container) refill section for beauty and cleaning products, plus ingredients to DIY your own cosmetic recipes. First time in, or happen to forget a container? Feel free to borrow from the freebie jar collection station.
This unique business was created by 27-year-old Callee Ackland. After moving to Rapid City at the end of 2018, she wanted to create a place, a haven, to begin building a community of like-minded individuals. “If I can’t find it, I create it,” explains the multi-passionate business owner. And as the saying goes: if you build it, they will come.
Hippie Haven wasn’t Ackland’s first business venture. Rather, it has been an extension of Bestowed Essentials, a handmade line of eco-friendly personal care and cleaning products. This was another example of Ackland’s resourcefulness in creating something she couldn’t find on her own.
She had struggled with acne for years but it seemed there wasn’t a product that was both effective and met her requirements as zero waste vegan. On a trip to Louisiana, she found a handmade soap that was close, but still not quite perfect.
A little research and a few rounds of trial-and-error resulted not only in a successful formula but also a bit of a hobby. With a little encouragement from friends, Ackland began selling her products on Etsy, and Bestowed Essentials was born.
It was around this time Ackland was preparing to leave the Navy. She had a difficult childhood, facing hardships like food insecurity, and the Navy offered her an escape. While it opened doors for travel, she also knew it wasn’t where her passion and purpose lied. So she gave herself permission to try. “I figured I’d give myself one year to make Bestowed Essentials work full-time,” she recalls. “If I couldn’t make it, then I’d go and get a ‘real job.’”
Rolling into South Dakota
A west coast native, stationed in Georgia, ultimately ends up in South Dakota. Not the journey most would expect for a young, politically active female business owner. But Ackland had done her research. She knew South Dakota was not only a tax-friendly state for business, but also nomad-friendly. “I had a campervan that I was living and running my business out of, and initially wanted to keep traveling,” she explained. “But I knew I needed a home base for the business and South Dakota checked a lot of boxes.”
Ackland initially stopped in Sioux Falls, but opted to continue and see what the west offered. The beauty and outdoor opportunities of the Black Hills called to her, and Rapid City became home. After a year, in December 2019, Hippie Haven opened its doors.
Zero Waste, Full of Purpose
Since moving to Rapid City, Bestowed Essentials and Hippie Haven have seen a lot of growth. Bestowed Essentials has a warehouse now. Between the two businesses there are six full and part-time employees. “It’s important for me to hire people of all abilities, and that often means being flexible with hours.”
Of the products Hippie Haven offers, 70% of them are made by American, female-owned businesses. You’ll also find at least two pop-up tables in the store featuring items by local makers and artists. With the new warehouse for Bestowed Essentials, it has opened more space to begin offering free education and community events.
As a multi-passionate entrepreneur and coming off a year in a pandemic it can be hard to narrow down which direction to head next, but Ackland has a few ideas in mind of what she hopes Hippie Haven continues to be. In addition to continuing to grow into the warehouse, she hopes to expand upon the community resources. Some of the new open space will be used to start a free market – a place where people can donate items and clothing and those in need can come “shop” for free. “Rather than going to the landfill, these items can go to people who really need them.” Additionally, inspired by the food insecurity she often faced as a child, Hippie Haven already offers a food pantry outside. She hopes to expand that, even adding a refrigerator. Lastly, Hippie Haven will continue to serve as a local drop-off point for anyone wanting to donate to Camp Mniluzahan.