Amy Golan and Monique Pickering, both local moms and entrepreneurs, met through their mutual concern for our environment. Their friendship started through their participation in a local group called Green Team Alliance. Amy runs the Green Team for Bancroft Elementary where her daughter, Carmel, attends their Spanish Immersion Program, and Monique runs the Recycle Club for Walnut Acres Elementary where her children attend.
Amy and her husband, Amir, and their three kids moved to Northgate in 2008. Her two older kids attended Walnut Acres, Foothill and Northgate High School. Jordan is now at UCLA studying mechanical engineering, and Dylan is a senior at Northgate. Amy started Planet Renu in 2018 as her own journey to live more sustainably led her to want to help spread the word and offer consumers like herself alternatives to plastic. “My passion is protecting our beautiful lands and oceans by reducing one’s usage of plastic products and products housed in plastic containers,” says Amy. “We offer a wide variety of products that are mostly plastic replacements, including my own private label, high quality eco brands, and organic refills.” She has been primarily selling her products at farmers’ markets, at schools and local businesses as well as online.
Monique moved to the Northgate area in 2013 with her husband, Justin, and daughter Sienna, who is now 9. A son, Rylan, was born here and is now 6 years old. She has been teaching yoga for 8 years. “Yoga is now an inseparable part of my life.” She is an Iyengar influenced Certified Yoga Instructor and has furthered her studies with Elise Browning Miller as a yoga instructor for those with scoliosis. She has been dreaming of opening her own yoga studio with a zero-waste store for many years. And with her interest in sustainability and her work with the recycling club at Walnut Acres, she saw Amy as the perfect fit with her vision. “We felt yoga and environmentally cautious people go hand in hand,” says Monique. The idea to combine a yoga studio with a retail space where Amy could sell her ecofriendly products was born, and they launched the space in September 2021 at 2121 Ygnacio Valley Rd. Amy adds, “To foster a healthy lifestyle, Planet Renu is located within Mount Diablo Yoga Center and shares a common space where clients have access to a myriad of great classes.”
Amy and Monique are active volunteers, helping in many ways at their kids’ schools and in the community. Amy also volunteers at a local homeless shelter and food pantries such White Pony Express. Monique is the contact for the Rancho San Miguel Neighborhood Association regarding environmental questions. She and her family also have a beehive of 25,000 bees. “We are proud to help Mother Nature by having a beehive,” adds Monique. “We love to watch and care for our bees as a family affair.” Monique brought Amy to Walnut Acres’ International Day where kids could get their passports stamped at “Eco Country” and learn about protecting the environment.
Perhaps their global thinking was inspired by their vast travels. Amy attended college in Paris and worked in New York in the fashion industry. She and her family frequently travel to Europe, South America, and Israel to visit their family there.
Monique was born in Dresden, Germany, lived in Australia (scuba diving all the way around the continent with her future husband), married in Thailand, and returns each summer to Germany to visit family.
Both of these women are grateful to have their businesses right here in the Northgate neighborhood, the place they have chosen to call home, and to be helping others learn how to live more healthy and sustainably.
Do you know a neighbor who has a story to share? Nominate your neighbor to be featured in one of our upcoming issues! Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Kara Navolio, Resident since 1991