Meet Healthier Homes: The Healthy Home Builders Inspired by Mold Poisoning

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cool brands doing cool things healthier homes

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Welcome to our series, Cool Brands Doing Cool Things, where we get a behind the scenes look at the innovation, products and development, business practices, and more from these impactful brands.


In this installment of Cool Brands Doing Cool Things, I’m thrilled to be sharing the story behind Healthier Homes! Jen and Rusty Stout combined their life experiences, career paths, and skillsets to create the world’s first healthy home building company.

If you’re wondering what that means, I can’t wait for you to learn more about their work! I’ll let them tell you the story below, but to give you an introduction, Jen was plagued by undefined illness that was quite literally ruining her life. In order for her body to heal, she needed an environment that was void of the toxins and materials flaring it up — AKA most of the materials and chemicals homes are traditionally built with.

Once she got to the bottom of it, it became clear to her and her husband that they needed to take action. What came from that action is JS2 Partners Healthy Home Builders, a book, a custom zero VOC paint line (that I have used in my own home!), and a website full of curated and vetted healthy home goods. Learn more about their story below and how it has become a thriving brand!

cool brands doing cool things healthier homes

What inspired you to start Healthier Homes?

My husband Rusty and I are healthy home builders. Which usually leads to the question, “What is a healthier home?”

I got really sick years ago while living in Dallas and going to college. And when I say sick, like lost all of my hair and had to wear a wig. Total immune system failure. It was hell on wheels. For years no one knew what was wrong with me , doctor after doctor. Come to find out, my apartment had a huge black mold problem behind the walls. I then discovered I had high levels of poisonous mycotoxins in my body from the mold exposure.

I had literally become allergic to everything around me and the chemicals used to make construction materials, things like formaldehyde and petroleum solvents, were impossible to get away from. To try to improve my health, I searched high and low and there was no such things as a healthy home, which I desperately needed to help my body heal.

This lead me down the path to build my first completely healthy home, meaning no chemical off-gassing, no mold, nothing to pollute the indoor air quality inside the home, and nothing to contaminate the water in the home.

So my builder husband and I decided we should start building healthy homes for other people too. At the time he had his own commercial contracting company and up and sold it. He saw the absolute difference living in a healthy living environment did for my wellness and quality of life.

So we started JS2 Partners Healthy Home Builders in Central Texas, and I quickly saw the immense need for healthier furnishings, paint, décor, rugs, everything that goes into a home. If we were going to build them healthy, they need non toxic and chemical free furnishings to go in them after they’re built.

When the opportunity to write and publish our first book became a reality, Healthier Homes was born – both the book and the home goods collections we started. Our vision was for HealthierHomes.com to be an extension of our book and to serve as a resource for others that want to upgrade their living and work environments to wellness promoting spaces. We lovingly refer to the concept as beautiful nontoxic living. 

healthier homes - jen and rusty stout

We’d love to learn more about how the brand developed into what it is today!

Healthier Homes was the name of the book Rusty and I were writing together. As we were going through that process, we realized there was an opportunity to offer something that was absolutely needed and not available.

We were building healthy homes, and some of our homeowners would ask us to do interior design packages. Figuring out things like what kind of finishes and treatments were applied to furniture, rugs, bedding, wallpaper, everything that goes into a home was very time consuming and a challenge. Especially with so many different stores and vendors. We decided to start Healthier Homes as an online community for information and a place to buy vetted items that our team researches and curates. Our goal is to give shopping it’s confidence back, so people can know what they’re buying is good for themselves, their family, and even their pets. 

Since paint is such a huge factor, as it covers the most surfaces inside a home, we decided to create a Healthier Homes brand of paint and construction products. It’s the same paint, coatings and sealer we’ve been using for years in our healthy homes that we build. It’s the only paint we use, as it’s truly zero voc and actually seals the surface. This means if you have a cabinet made with mdf or particle board, our paints and coatings seal in any emissions like formaldehyde, petroleum solvent fumes and odors. This is huge and we wanted other people to have access to this paint for their own homes! We’ve even created PIY (paint it yourself) category on our site with solid wood furniture that has an option for bolting on one of our paint or clear coat kits. 

We’re a very creative team that likes to think outside the box. We’re like ok, what can we do next that no one else is doing? And while Healthier Homes has only been in the retail space for a couple of years, we’re learning a lot and are rewarded daily when we’re able to connect one-on-one with our customers, homeowners and followers. 

healthier homes

What are the core values and key principles behind Healthier Homes mission?

Our mission is pretty straight forward. We’re creating better living through healthier building and a healthier home environment.  Trust and transparency both play a huge role in our day to day operations. We aim to give our customers and homeowner clients the information they need to make informed decisions about what goes into their homes. Earning trust and gaining loyalty is the highest compliment we can receive.

Innovation is another core concept that fuels our passion for trailblazing the construction, design, and home goods industries. We certainly don’t fit into a category; we’re all about making a new one and doing it better than anyone else! 

And finally, teamwork. Teamwork may sound cliché, but we’re only as good as our team. Our expanding business means entrusting a team to follow through with the same quality and care that the company was founded upon. We spend a lot of time cultivating our team and making sure our small company culture is fun, engaging and supportive.

healthier homes

Why are they so important?

The importance of adhering to our core values is what makes a brand more than just a brand. Healthier Homes becomes a way of life, a mindset, that we can share with others and connect with one another on a fundamental level. It’s all about bettering wellness and quality of life, and no one can deny that’s a positive thing.

We’ve certainly been tested over the years, too. We’ve had to turn down some interesting partnership opportunities that did not align with our core values and even a couple of TV show producers approach us that we didn’t feel were a good fit. At the end of the day, we’re proud to remain steadfast to our mission and company values. 

healthier homes

Can you share some behind the scenes of what it’s like to build a healthier home?

One of the toughest parts of what we do is to keep up with what’s in the construction materials. For example, depending on the region, the same brand of drywall may be made with different raw materials, like synthetic gypsum vs natural gypsum. Synthetic gypsum comes from coal plants. It’s a byproduct called fly ash that can actually be radioactive. It’s important we stick with drywall that uses natural gypsum, of course. Also manufacturers frequently change up their formulations and discontinue products at times, so we have to remain nimble and stay informed. 

It’s very important that our subcontractors understand our materials and methods and take pride in creating a non toxic environment inside our homes. We’ve assembled a fantastic team. It’s really special to see how much everyone enjoys the healthy building processes. I think it makes everyone feel good about their job at the end of the day.

And since every home is different, no two projects are alike. It keeps things fun and interesting! Especially when it comes time to picking out the pretty stuff! We spend a lot of time up front with clients working through the design and layout phase of a home. We guide them through the selections process and make recommendations based upon their budget, aesthetic and what is healthy for inside a home. The build process is a lot of internal work like scheduling with subcontractors and lots and lots of oversight to make sure nothing gets overlooked.

So we’re basically building houses during the day and running our retail shop day and night.  We’re heavily committed, and it’s never a dull day that’s for sure (I wouldn’t have it any other way!)

healthier homes kitchen

We love that Healthier Homes also has an online store! How do you select materials and products?

HealthierHomes.com is my second child, and entering retail has been such a fun endeavor for me and the team! We realized early on that clients needed nontoxic finishings and furnishings to put in their new healthy home after we handed the keys over. So it just made sense to create a place that we equate to something like a Whole Foods for your house.

The Healthier Homes online shop offers curated collections of most things you’d find in a home. Everything from rugs, wallpaper, décor, furniture, lighting, bedding, bath, storage, kitchen/tabletop, and even our own line of Real Zero VOC paints and coatings.

Rusty and I handle the materials selections similar to the way we always have for JS2 Partners. We see them in person, we get to know the manufacturers, the brands that we carry, and we ask questions. Also, we go to several furniture and home goods shows each year where we can see and experience the latest styles and trends. We look for pieces that are made with materials like solid woods and reeds with very little or no finishes. Our pieces are often handmade and crafted from stone, metal, wood, paper, ceramic, glass, natural plant-based fabrics, ethically sourced animal products, or a combination of these. 

What you won’t find in Healthier Homes are chemical fire retardants, fake fragrances, petroleum solvents, formaldehyde, forever chemicals like PFAS, stain repellants, mdf, particle board, among other common materials that have the tendency to offgas or leach harmful chemicals. And that’s the core concept behind everything we do whether it’s building, designing, decorating or curating our retail collections. 

While most everything we offer is natural, many items are also organic in nature. They’re raw, chemical free and boast the simplistic beauty that nature has to offer. A modern organic aesthetic actually lends itself to hypoallergenic items by default. We don’t do mass manufactured items simply because many use MDF and particle board among other finishes that off-gas as well. Since most of our items are handmade and all the materials are reviewed, the end customer can be assured that quality is a prerequisite for our collections. 

healthier homes jen and rusty stout

What are some of the most popular items you’ve seen customers love?

Our top sellers recently have been our stoneware dish sets that are lead and cadmium free. Most come from Portugal or Spain and some are designed in Belgium and Germany. Our collection of solid wood cutting boards has also been popular, as well as our washable cotton and wool rugs.  

Our line of zero VOC paints, primers, clear coats and cabinet/furniture lacquers are truly healthy home game changers. It’s so important to our healthy home building process that we decided to make it available to everyone. There’s no exempt solvents, no ammonia or acetone, no paraffin, no formaldehyde or formaldehyde donors and even the colorants are zero VOC.

All of our paints also seal the surface to block off-gassing from any materials under the painted surface. It’s catching on, but getting the word out about paint has been a challenge. It’s hard to compete with the giant companies that dominate the market. Our hope is our steady efforts to try to spread the word about our new paints will resonate with people!

We also just introduced a new line of bedding with bamboo, Tencel, modal and organic cotton sheet sets. We spend a third of our life sleeping! Chemical free, super soft bedding is super important. We look forward to growing this new category! 

building a healthier homes home

How does Healthier Homes ensure the sustainability and environmental friendliness of its products?

The good news is, what’s good for people is good for the planet, too. We make it a point to work with manufacturing partners that put sustainability at the forefront of what they do.

We’re proud to offer furniture made from rescued rubberwood from plantations around the world that would otherwise burn or discard the trees after their useful life on natural latex farms. We also have FSC certified pieces of furniture (Forest Stewardship Council certified for sustainable forestry practices) and upcycled teak wood and teak root pieces. Rattan and wicker are sourced from vines that are quick to grow in the wild and even invasive species in some areas. Glass is infinitely recyclable and natural stones, shells and wood are regenerative. We ship direct from our manufacturers when possible to reduce our carbon footprint.

And for every gallon of paint product we sell, we’ve partnered with Ocean Co to fund the recycling of 100 ocean bound plastic bottles at recycling centers around the world. We recognize this as a very real and growing concern, as the oceans are on track to have more plastic than fish by 2050 without intervention to stop ocean pollution. There’s an interactive map on our website that shows where our plastic collection is happening in real time.

We’re also proud members of the Sustainable Furnishings Council, a wonderful organization that is doing so much to educate and promote mindfulness within the furniture industry for both the wellness and sustainability of furniture manufacturing and retail. 

a completed healthier homes home

What are some future plans or upcoming projects we can look forward to seeing from Healthier Homes?

We’ve been working on building our first two healthy tiny homes, which will be available soon for sale. It’s been such a fun project, with it’s fair share of challenges. We’ve had to rethink a lot of what we would normally use in our homes and reconfigure it to work in a very small space and from a lightweight perspective. For a few examples, we had to find a dehumidifier that would fit inside the walls of the tiny home, since there’s no attic space. The exhaust vents for the bathroom and kitchen all were modified and the shower system is something new for us to use. 

We’re also working on creating a kid and baby section on the website which will hopefully launch later this year. As parents to a four year old, we know how challenging it can to be find safe and non toxic bedding, toys, food and clothing for your little bundle of joy. 

We’re also super excited to announce that we’re expanding our home building into another major market later in 2024 / early 2025. This is a dream of ours and has been a part of our long range planning for a while. We’ve had a number of families reach out asking us to build, and we feel now is the right time to move forward with expansion to offer our healthy homes to people in more areas. We encourage people to sign up for our newsletter on HealthierHomes.com for the latest updates on our expansion.

zero voc paint by healthier homes

What is something you are most proud of with your work?

It’s incredible to think it all started with my health falling apart years ago from living in a moldy apartment. It brutally crushed my immune system and kicked my life as I knew it to shambles. I had rashes all over and lost all my hair and had to wear a wig. At the time no doctors could figure out what was wrong with me.

There was no place for me to live, since I had become so incredibly sensitive and allergic to everything in the world around me. It was up to me to figure out how to build myself a healthy home to heal and regain my constitution. And it’s because of this incredibly arduous time in my life that Rusty and I can go to work every day knowing that we’re making a difference in peoples’ lives and contributing to make the world a little better. 

Our homes are built differently; they’re nontoxic from the ground up, which means our crews aren’t breathing harmful fumes on the jobsites. Our homeowners are entrusting us with the largest investment of their lifetime, and we’re creating a safe haven for their families to thrive and flourish with clean air, clean water and a beautiful home to live in.

We’ve built an online community where healthy home furnishings, décor and Healthier Paints are available for anyone that’s interested in upping the wellness factor inside their home. And Rusty and I have been blessed with the opportunity to share our knowledge with the world through our book, Healthier Homes.

Knowledge is power, and we thank our lucky stars that we can share our knowledge to help others enjoy beautiful nontoxic living. I have to say I’m most proud that our work continues to help others.

a healthier home build by JS2 Partners

A massive thank you to Jen and Rusty for sharing their story! Make sure to check out the Healthier Homes website, especially if you have a painting project or a re-decorating project coming up.

More Cool Brands Doing Cool Things:

cool brands doing cool things healthier homes

About the Author

Nicole Booz

Nicole Booz is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of GenTwenty, GenThirty, and The Capsule Collab. She has a Bachelor of Science in Psychology and is the author of The Kidult Handbook (Simon & Schuster May 2018). She currently lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and two sons. When she’s not reading or writing, she’s probably hiking, eating brunch, or planning her next great adventure.

Website: genthirty.com




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