Seven years ago, Jen Carlson and Josh Shear had a hell of a time finding sustainable materials to build their straw-bale house in Lincoln, Nebraska. So instead of letting the eco-frustration continue, the couple created the very business that would have met all their Earth-friendly construction needs. Called Straw, Sticks and Bricks, the company took root in downtown Lincoln in 2001. But the out-of-state response was so great that Carlson's sister, Annette, moved to Kansas City last year to open a second location in the Crossroads. It's appropriate that the storefront is sandwiched between art galleries on 18th Street, because its wares are both elegant and inspiring: bamboo and cork flooring, recycled glass tiles, nontoxic paint, carpets spun from corn, insulation made with leftover denim. It's the kind of stuff that will not only help the planet but also make Pottery Barn and Ikea feel downright dowdy.