WEEK 3: Here in New Orleans, We Discovered What Really Matters

Open Road — Week Three 
By Team IBAM

This post originally appeared on the Michigan Ross website.

The architectural details, the fluid jazz beats, and the welcoming arms of New Orleans immediately drew us into the allure and charm of the city. Tippy Tippens, founder of Goods That Matter, is no different.

When we arrived at her studio and storefront located in the Faubourg Lafayette neighborhood, she embraced us in local New Orleans style, wonderful conversation, and good eats — she truly made us feel right at home.

As an ardent environmentalist, Tippy was inspired to move to New Orleans after witnessing the devastating effects of the BP oil spill. Given her background in product design, Tippy wanted to create a product that would contribute to the oil spill cleanup efforts. Hours of creative brainstorming and sketching ultimately produced theBirdProject, a thoughtful and powerful hand soap that tells the story of the BP oil spill and the subsequent environmental restoration and recovery.

Ten percent of the BirdProject’s proceeds are donated to environmental cleanup and care for affected animals of the oil spill. From the BirdProject came more impact-inspired products: dish towels to support coastal cleanup and natural beeswax candles to support the protection of pollinator ecosystems. In the five years since Tippy’s first introduction to New Orleans and the initial boom of BirdProject sales, her business has grown, but still lacks the sales and the impact she dreams of. When we joined Tippy, she was looking toward the next steps of her business and the greater impact she is intent on creating.

Looking at the Next Five Years

Over the next five years, Tippy aims to grow Goods that Matter’s revenue by more than 400 percent. During multiple work sessions at the Church Alley coffee shop, Old №77 Hotel, and Tippy’s house (with the support of her 16-year-old team mascot, Tonto the pug), we explored various different avenues to help Tippy increase her revenues and decrease her overall expenses.

Over the course of four days, we learned the ins and outs of Goods That Matter, collecting data to help build our projections. Working alongside Tippy, we created a financial modeling tool that would project her revenues, expenses, and margin over the next five years. On our final day, we developed a few possible scenarios and included our recommendations for increasing Matter’s revenues, profit, and social impact.

Additionally, we saw a few other ways our team’s skills could benefit Tippy’s company. We developed website growth recommendations, updated a business plan template, and improved a new Excel sales tracking tool for makers that Tippy will be launching soon.

Our week with Tippy, Tonto, and Goods That Matter taught us the power of passion. Tippy is successfully integrating product design and social impact in a meaningful way. She draws on her skill and expertise to help contribute to her local community. Tippy serves not only as an inspiration for us, but also for her fellow local makers and designers — she is the embodiment of pursuing a career driven by passion. As one local retailer said, “Tippy isn’t about making a buck; she is about making a lasting impact.”

In fact, the name of Tippy’s company — Goods That Matter — encapsulates her mindset, doing what we figured out really matters: pursuing your passions and making an impact through your work.

As our week in New Orleans ended, we left invigorated by Tippy’s mission and passion, and were inspired by the incredible hard work that she has put in, as well as her excitement about moving forward with what we had jointly accomplished.

We left the week as Tippy’s №1 supporters and will be closely tracking her path as she continues to grow Goods That Matter.

Team IBAM consists of Iris Nguyen, Mikaela Rodkin, Aaron Steiner, and Blake Van Fleteren, members of the Ross MBA Class of 2017.

They just wrapped up their fourth week with AMP360 in Austin, Texas. Follow #RossOpenRoad to learn more.

Open Road is sponsored by the Zell Lurie Institute, the Center for Social Impact, and General Motors.