Maureen (“Molly”) Hood, who started her own sanitizer-making company, is seen with her twins, Abby and Aden, 6-year-old kindergarten students at the Henry Elementary School in Mt. Airy, by Len …
by Len Lear
If you have been a regular customer at Weavers Way in Chestnut Hill during the last four-and-a-half years until Covid-19, you would most likely recognize Maureen (“Molly”) Hood, a Mt. Airy resident with a smiling face checking out customers at one of the cash registers.
As a response of the pandemic, however, and the hoarding of items like hand sanitizer and toilet paper, Maureen has a new job. Working at home, she has created an organic, sustainably sourced sanitizer with citrus essential oils. “I spent a year in Jordan studying Arabic 20 years ago,” she said last week. “This is not really germane to the story, except that it got me interested in water scarcity issues, which was my path into environmentalism.”
Maureen has set up a website, viridityenvironmental.com that offers three- and six-month subscription options. “This is a tiny operation,” said Maureen, “and my goal is to make sure that everyone in our local area has sanitizer if they need it. Deliveries will be free (although they will still be paying for bottles of sanitizer) until the end of May. Starting on June 1, there will be a $5 delivery fee, and deliveries are currently only for residents of Chestnut Hill and Mt Airy. But I am planning to give them to employees of Weavers Way I know and then branch out to hospital employees. My heart goes out to low-wage employees, especially gig workers.”
The mother of twins, Abby and Aden, 6-year-old kindergarten students at the Henry Elementary School in Mt. Airy, Molly had “a lack of childcare due to Covid-19. This forced me to create by own business where I can work with my children present and on my own schedule. I am homeschooling my children while we are in quarantine.”
A native of Perkiomenville, Molly left the area and wound up in Santa Monica, California, for the “beach and sun. I had a modeling job offer, but I decided that the industry was not the right fit for me. The 2008 recession hit right after I started a commercial cleaning company. It was an eco-friendly cleaning company that served office buildings and retail stores, so I got to combine my passion for the environment with a business that was essential, even in a recession.”
Molly maintained the commercial cleaning company until 2014. She returned to Philly in 2015 and went to the Graduate School of Education at the University of Pennsylvania, where she earned a master’s degree in 2017.
Molly developed a mindfulness curriculum for parents and children and taught parent-child mindfulness classes at Ahimsa House, a center for non-violence in West Philadelphia. “I hoped to start a nonprofit one day for mindfulness, positive psychology and education innovation,” she said.
When Molly had the commercial cleaning company, she learned how to make disinfectants, and having the twins as a single mom inspired her to start thinking about her passion for education, which is why she moved back to Philly and enrolled at Penn's Education Entrepreneurship Program.
The Mt. Airy mom worked at Weavers Way in grad school and beyond. After she received her master's degree, she began teaching at the Waldorf School of Philadelphia. “I am on leave from Waldorf and hope to return. I miss all our families dearly!” she said. “When the pandemic hit, I already knew how to make sanitizer, so I began the startup, Viridity Environmental. At Penn I had the good fortune of taking classes with Wharton faculty. One of them has been guiding me through creating the business model for the startup. Entrepreneurship itself taught me the grit required to keep going after failures. If we do not fail often at things, we are not trying hard enough. If we don’t try, we rob ourselves of our greatest successes.”
Molly chose the name Viridity, which means the "the state of being green," for her company because the ingredients for the sanitizer are environmentally friendly. According to her, the product is non-GMO and sustainably sourced. The alcohol is certified organic. The aloe is bio-based. “I chose the most earth-friendly kind of plastic bottle that I could find. It's light enough that people can carry it in their pockets.”
An eight-ounce bottle of Viridity sells for $15, which Molly insists “is cheaper per ounce than similar products at Whole Foods.”
But why should someone buy Viridity instead of Purell and other well-known brands? “Because a three-year-old should be able to pronounce everything you put on your skin … I am glad I can provide sanitizer. It will be increasingly important when restrictions loosen.”
In addition to her website, Molly has set up a Facebook page under the name Viridity Environmental. Len Lear can be reached at email@example.com