An Interview: Melanie Pagan – Coco Bazaar and Elliott & Black
Written and Illustrated by Leslie Kubica

Welcome to Little Falls! Maybe you have lived here your whole life, or just arrived! It’s never too early or late for a tour of our beautiful city. My latest illustration is titled “CITY TOUR 2,” the second in my City Tour series of Little Falls. Featuring Melanie Pagan, the mastermind behind Coco Bazaar and Elliott & Black, her interview is sure to delight! Her portrait, which I originally created with pen and ink, features her in full soap making getup! You can visit Melanie at her brick and mortar shop (32 West Main Street), online:(www.CocoBazaar.com and www.ElliottAndBlack.com) or on social media @CocoBazaare and @Elliot&Black. Melanie is just another reason that I love our beautiful little city!

INTERVIEW: Melanie Pagan

What inspired you to create Coco Bazaar and Elliott & Black?

I think I was born with an entrepreneurial spirit and artistic streak a mile wide. Couple that with a mother that instills a “you can do anything you want” attitude, and you get brainchildren like Coco Bazaar and Elliott & Black.

What is your business about? What products and/or services do you offer?

Coco Bazaar came to life because I’m good at shopping, sourcing and I LOVE pretty, shiny things. I have built this boutique in my head at least 100 times prior to opening. We have on trend clothing, accessories, jewelry, handbags and any other shiny thing that may catch our buying eye. We are also home to Elliott & Black!

Elliott & Black is my “Girl Power” company; I made it for myself. It’s my mother and mother-in-law’s maiden names. Our mantra is “Gorgeous Not Guilty.” What this means is that every single oil, butter, essential oil, botanical and anything else that goes into our soaps, body butter, lotions, bath bombs, and candles are researched deeply, of high quality, sourced ethically, fair traded and are never, ever animal tested. However, “Warning: We Test On Beautiful People Daily”.

Why do you need to wear goggles, a mask, and a lab coat when you work?

All protective. I work with lye, which is needed for saponification (a process by which triglycerides are reacted with sodium or potassium hydroxide (lye) to produce glycerol and a fatty acid salt called “soap”). It can damage eyes, skin and clothes.

What is one thing that you absolutely love about your business?

I love the creativity (and the little mad scientist that pops out) that Elliott & Black allows me. It took me two years to research, test and create the amazing base recipe that is used in all my soaps today. The fact that it is loved by my customers and keeps the lights on is a pure bonus!

Why did you choose Little Falls as the place to open and run your business?

Little Falls is just an amazing community; it’s so neighborly. The architecture is beautiful and historic. Everything you could need or want is right here in town.

How do you think your business makes Little Falls a better place to live and work?

I think we are just another piece of a beautiful puzzle that makes Little Falls what it is. Our piece just smells really nice and has glitter.

Where are you from? If you’re not from Little Falls originally, what drew you to this area?

I’m originally from the Newport/Poland area and I found Little Falls when my best friend in Jr. High moved here and completely fell in love with the city.

What is your favorite thing to do in Little Falls?

Just be here. I bought my building on West Main Street in 2000 and was working in NYC at the time. I was able to return to the area full time 5 years ago and I love every day of it! I just love the feel of it. I can grab a latte at the Café at Stone Mill, pop over to 410 Collective to talk to Gail Rochette and pick up whatever spice blends the Mustard Seed is whipping up that week. Then I hit Kelly’s Meat Market and the Community Co-op on the way home. The feeling of a small, tight community is amazing. My dentist runs by my house for gosh sakes! Hi Dr. Y.!

If your current body was suddenly inhabited by your eight-year-old self and you could magically transport yourself anywhere in the world, what is the first thing you would do?

I would go right back to my childhood farm; go barefoot a little longer, lay on my back and watch the clouds, pet all the kitties, roll around with my dog and definitely eat a lot more cotton candy.