In the first post I talked a little bit about what ‘Responsible Business’ means to me, and every day this week, I will be interviewing an ethical business owner, to find out what it means to them, as well as some of the challenges and rewards of running a business that looks after people and planet, as well as profit.So here goes!
Sweetness and Pea is an online Natural Parenting shop for Mum, Baby, The Home and Family. All of the products we stock are manufactured in an ethical way, are sustainable and eco friendly. More importantly, we have done the research and testing before making the decision to stock so our customers can buy with confidence.
For me, being a responsible business means that we take the origin of all of our products very seriously. This includes the material source, the environment of workers manufacturing the products, product testing, packaging, shipping & marketing. Sweetness & Pea also ensure that when products reach us, we are responsible in the way we resell products, only using recycled & recyclable packing and ensure any one that works with us is paid a fair wage for their skills.
For me the biggest challenge has been & will continue to be sticking to the core ethics of the business. I think it can be very easy to ‘bend’ your values in order to be offer customers what they are asking for rather than turn customers away. On the flip side, existing and new customers value that we have strong ethics and will not stock a product that does not meet the ethical criterias that I set out when I first started the business.
What is the best thing about running an ethical business?
There are so many things! The best though for me is discovering exciting new brands and working with brands that share my passion for ethical & sustainable practices. I also love being able to bring these products to a new market & to consumers who may have not been specifically looking for ethical products.
What advice would you give to others wanting to either start up an ethical business, or to re-design their existing one to be more ‘responsible’?
Set yourself a clear plan of what you want to achieve, what you are willing to compromise on and what you aren’t and really stick to it! Not bending to the pressure of stocking less ethical brands because they sell well will stand you in good stead with consumers who value ethics and help you to grow a strong returning customer base. Secondly I would say take your time to source products/suppliers/services and ensure that they match the core values and ethics you set out when you began.
I talked yesterday about how being a ‘Responsible Business’ means that we take responsibility for the impact of our choices – Becky has totally done this – she has taken responsibility for the impact that the products she sells have on the planet, but also for the fact that standing by her values and what matters to her might mean that the business grows more slowly. But as she says, in the long run, this pays dividends, as her customers now know that she simply won’t stock products that don’t meet her criteria, and that they can trust her to do the research for them.
What was the part of Becky’s story that resonated with you, or inspired you the most? Do leave a comment below, or hop over to the #MakingGood Facebook community to carry on the conversation 🙂