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[Shopify Webinar] Sustainable Giving and Building a Values-based Company

By Lauren McWilliams

We’re living through an unprecedented challenge. In times of hardship, we want to take all opportunities present to build our communities and find inspiration in each other. When we don’t find those opportunities, we strive to make them. We were so excited to participate in a Shopify panel with some amazing people working towards the same goals. 

“Companies are being challenged to really make their mission a part of their DNA. That’s what makes a mission-driven brand.” – Aishetu Fatima Dozie, founder of Bossy Cosmetics

Our CIO, Melaney Lubey, moderated a forum on July 16th, 2020 featuring the following e-commerce leaders and panelists:

We were also joined by Shopify’s own Katie Boothby-Kung, head of Social Impact.

Watch the webinar on Sustainable Giving and Building a Values-based Company:

We focused on two big picture topics: sustainable giving business models and the experience of being a mission-driven brand and tackled topics such as:

  • How does a company balance being commercially-viable and having a positive socio-economic impact?
  • How can the mission be integrated at all levels?
  • How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected the ability to fulfill business concerns and the mission statement?
  • What role has the Black Lives Matter movement played for your business?
  • How do you stay connected to your community when working from home? 

“The chef community is a really deep, passionate community. How do we activate that community in order to do better and do good around the world?” – Jonathan Levine, Hedley & Bennett

Each panelist brought with them a unique perspective on the questions and took us in directions we couldn’t have expected at the beginning. The variety of answers between people with such a strong, common thread was amazing to hear. Each panelist was focused on being able to give back and build something bigger than just a company for profit. 

“Everyone is bringing a perspective that, unless you listen to it, you’re not seeing the full picture. If you’re not smart enough to get everyone’s voice at the table, you’re not a good business person.” – Patrice Mousseau, Satya Organics 

For Dozie, an important moment for the company came during the first wave of the pandemic. She found herself becoming a part of her customer community in an entirely new way. Bossy Cosmetics is intrinsically about telling “real stories of real women,” and integrating her own life into her product strengthened the bridge between the passion and the purpose of the brand. The interaction with customers became a key part of the Bossy experience. 

“Our product is a vehicle for their message. I try to think of it as a whole customer journey and you support that from top to bottom.”  – Daniel Kasidi, founder of Rastaclat

Kasidi doesn’t “see our internal staff and our customers as different. We’re all one tribe.” His version of community-oriented branding is expressing Rastaclat’s values as a part of the product. He and the rest of the company want to empower the community through the product and enable customers to make positive change themselves.

Meanwhile, Levine has made giving-back a central part of Hedley & Bennett’s mission, and alongside that has empowered everyone at the company employed to be a part of the change they’re affecting and ensuring that the mission has a day-to-day impact on their lives. 

“The fact that I show up every day is my protest. Just being an amazing Black woman is my social justice movement.” – Aishetu Fatima Dozie

For Mousseau, it’s all about having a company that operates like a healthy person. She wants everyone to understand the true value of having as many perspectives as possible reflected. Community storytelling is woven into everything that Satya Organics does. It’s a company that can be viewed as a product of its environment, in a symbiotic relationship with it. 

“The mission shouldn’t come from the top; it’s something that should be cultivated within the organization.” – Mel Lubey, CIO at DailyKarma

All of these brands have strengthened their mission statement over the past several, tumultuous months. They’ve been able to do this because they have baked something bigger into their businesses than just profit margins.

They were all unequivocally supportive of and involved in the Black Lives Matter movement because they made it a pillar of their strategy to put their values into everything they do. When your community retention and interaction is as important as your financials, giving back is more than a duty: it’s an imperative. 

Our incredible Shopify partners are dynamic individuals with dynamic businesses. If there’s one lesson we took away, it’s that a brand that neglects to back its communities is a brand that’s missing a core component.

It was a stark and empowering reminder of how we can all be working to stay involved and engaged with the lives around us. Now is a time to lean heavily into that philosophy for brands who are striving to spotlight their charitable efforts. Never before have communities needed every individual showing up more. We’re here to show up and back our communities’ plays. 

“Brands talk in the third person. Founders talk in the first person. We’re here to reinforce those stories.” – Jonathan Levine, Hedley & Bennett

How are YOU going to do that moving forward? We’re excited to hear about it. We’re excited to be a part of it. 

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