What It’s Really Like To Start A Socially Conscious Company
If the challenges of starting a regular business are not enough for you, then building a socially conscious business is just the right career path for you. The belief in your business mission and core values must be deeply rooted in your actions as an individual and as a company. When you make something that matters you have to be prepared to spend extra time educating and telling your story. This attention to detail will do a lot for you in terms of the relationships that you create and how they continue to blossom throughout the life of your business.
I have always been a believer that following your passion and listening to yourself were critically important when you are setting out to create something. I think that true magic happens when you turn others into believers and get them to advocate on your behalf. The internet has made this easier and it has helped us a lot to build our presence on social media so that our message has the opportunity to grow by word of mouth. One of the best things we have done at Hamilton Perkins Collection was empower our customers and followers to get involved and to engage.
Socially conscious businesses face pressures that are not always apparent in normal businesses, for example the subject of price always comes up. First of all, unless your product is visually telling the story of what makes it different and in some cases more expensive, your customer will not necessarily know the difference. You will have to show them the value and make it clear. Many products look the same but the process that it took to make the product look the way it does is where the real story is. We found that it helped when we explain the value of our products with infographics.
One of the most rewarding things about this process is being authentic to who we are and communicating our message. Acquiring business skills and using practical reasoning have also been key in helping our cause. It often takes time to see the results of our labor. It takes time to build brand and trust when you come to an industry as an outsider like us. We spend a lot of time making certain that every customer understands why we are different. This is very similar to a marathon. We have found success in communicating our socially conscious work in several different ways (podcasts,videos, etc).
A key observation has been the value of creating a community. The people in our network benefit from the conversation just as much as we do. Corporate social responsibility has opened many doors for socially conscious businesses in recent years. We feel strongly about advancing the stakeholder model. Everyone should be accounted for and should benefit from a business, not only the owner. We spend time measuring this and accounting for results.
The fact that we are able to give with every bag we sell is all made possible by the power of social change and using business to express social and environmental progress. We set up the core values and elements of our mission that made the most impact and started to build our products out from there.
Our mission at Hamilton Perkins Collection is to provide earth friendly fashion products to socially conscious consumers on the go at affordable prices while creating jobs in developing countries and here in the United states, reducing waste levels in the environment, and conserving water.
We approached our mission in a way that would work well for us. We looked at our core values and defined them clearly so that in 100 or 1,000 years the plans we made for the company would still add value to society in a meaningful way.
We wanted our core values to be present in any project, task, or product that we would be involved in. The following are the values that we created. We built our mission to execute on these statements.
To us, mission is about focus and discipline to make lives better. We gave this thought and included our values and goals. We thought about how we might change the world and make it a better place. We were note embarrassed to be aggressive and to be forward thinking.
When we wrote our mission statement in our early days and as you may imagine, it was still not widely accepted to build a business around social impact, as strange as that might sound. You have to have the power to be “wrong” in the present in order to be “right” in the future. Don’t worry your customers will appreciate it and the world will thank you for your vision later.
Our company was formed out of a personal need of the founder. Similar to many consumers in the luggage and accessories market, we had trouble finding bags that could meet our standard needs in a practical and socially responsible way. We wanted more from our backpacks, and duffle bags that we were taking on some of life’s most precious moments, adventures, and journeys.
We solved the problem by working closely with travelers and having conversations that we could share with industrial designers and artisans to create a collection that was built from recycled plastic bottles and crafted with empathy. The result was a bag that combined some of the best features for the world’s busiest travelers, making a difference one bag at at time.
We set ourselves apart by breaking down the traditional walls of the retail industry and invited customers to share their comments and thoughts with us. We interviewed countless travelers to tell us how we could best serve their needs when we were building a bag that would also be carried to do good.
From top to bottom, we created a completely original bag. It includes many of the dimension and appearance recommendations that add utility as much a they add contemporary beauty to the product.
While speaking with people that were inspired by impact and the efforts of social enterprises, we assessed global problems and decided to construct our design from sustainable textiles and repurposed materials that could benefit developing countries and our local community as well. In collaboration with our workshops and suppliers we committed to supporting fair wages and transparency by making our bags in the USA.
Hamilton Perkins Collection bags are made out of recycled plastic bottles and reclaimed billboard vinyl. We strive to help our customers feel good and do good by making their purchase with us as it benefits parts of the developing world and helps make a difference in the lives of people along the way.
Generally, a mission can be an extension of personal goals but it can also go far beyond you and what you may expect of yourself. We have seen it is actually okay to dream here and to be thoughtful about society. We started this business to give alternatives to what was being offered in the market while inspiring change.
If you agree with us and think socially conscious business is going to play a hand in shaping the future join the conversation in the comments!
Originally published at www.huffingtonpost.com on August 16, 2016.