As Tara has been known to say, New Economy businesses must support not only their owners but also others; they must be able to make others’ lives richer by virtue of what they do. One group of anthropreneurs that is doing this is Certified B Corporations – businesses that use their power to solve social and environmental problems.
We recently chatted with Uncommon Goods Community Outreach Manager Julia Marden about why B Corporations are cool and what companies like theirs are doing to change the face of business in the New Economy. Also, sweet design contest at the end of this post!
Uncommon Goods is a Certified B Corporation. Tell us what that means, in a nutshell.
Well, I think being a Certified B Corporation means three major things for us. First, we’re committed to creating a public benefit. It’s written right into our charter, and we consider it as important as making a profit.
Second, being certified means that we’ve gone through an external audit, so that anyone can read up on how we score on a number of different factors that contribute to a sustainable business. You can read our report here.
Three, we’re part of an active community of like-minded companies – for example, Susty Party, which was founded by two women looking to introduce more eco-friendly partyware into the marketplace. Right now, we’re co-hosting a design challenge with Susty Party & Recyclebank (two B Corps) and it’s a great opportunity for graphic designers and illustrators to get recognition for their work.
How does Uncommon Goods change the way business is conducted? What do you do that’s different?
As a retailer, we work with a number of artists and designers to bring their products to market. We make a point of telling our artists’ stories to our customers throughout our website & catalog, and recognizing their work on every product.
It’s so important to recognize and support independent art and design, and give artists and designers a platform through which they can make a living.
We also love collaboration. When an artist or designer comes to us with a product idea, we try to work with them to bring it to market, and can often offer advice for how to make an item using more eco-friendly materials or packaging (which is often more profitable for the artist, too!).
How does Uncommon Goods stay sustainable?
We try to work sustainability into every aspect of our business. More than half our products are handmade and/or made with recycled materials. Our catalogs are printed on recycled and FSC-certified paper. We offer fair benefits and healthcare to all employees (because sustainability is about more than just the environment). We give back to worthy non-profits through our Better to Give program. And we work with our vendors, to help their businesses become more sustainable.
How do YOU feel working for a Certified B Corporation? Why is it important to you?
Well I actually worked in the non-profit sector before, so knowing that UncommonGoods was a Certified B Corporation played a big part in me joining the company! I love going to work each day and knowing that my coworkers all value the same things and really care about our community. And as the community outreach manager, I get to work directly with a lot of our artists and designers to tell their stories, highlight their work, and help grow their businesses.
Just for fun: What is your favorite Uncommon Goods product right now?
Ooo that’s a hard question. Every week, we bring in new items and I change my mind! Can I pick two? I really like Jason Podlowski’s one-of-a-kind skateboard furniture. We had one of his stools around the office for a few weeks, and I brought it to practically every meeting! I’m also a big fan of Lori Blum’s new family pillows. I think the colors are great, and the personalized typography really stands out.
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Want to get in on that design challenge?
You could win $500 AND have your design featured on Susty Party’s new line of party cups and plates. Click here for all the deets! Deadline for submissions is March 15 at 11:59 pm EST.