Doing What’s Right

Any of you who do any sort of marketing or communications work probably know of Seth Godin (he’s sort of the Pete Drucker for the GenY camp – super insightful marketing brainiac). I could tell you I’m not GenY – think a letter earlier – but as an entrepreneur and marketing gal, I am a faithful devotee. Anyhoo.

Today, he posted something that really hit home. You can read his whole post here, but the part that was important to me was this:

The big promises of transparency and care, of design and passion, of commitment and stewardship–we ought to be demanding more of this.

(Apologies in advance for the soapbox.) He is absolutely right. We should demand more of this.

We’re gearing up for the holidays. Yes, it’s time for family and friends, pretty outfits and fun parties, but it’s also a time of serious consumerism. In the past few years, more and more companies have begun to integrate giving into the business model, and increasing numbers of companies that are committed to responsibility and transparency. Sometimes, those companies are backed by big conglomerates, but as often, they are small companies that are unfettered by the red tape inherent in large organizations.

They are the entrepreneurs that are driven by passion, committed to doing what they do right and willing to fight the good fight. And you’d think that would pay off. But it doesn’t always. People don’t care enough about the end result. Sure, a sale is great. Sure, having that brand across your butt or on your bag makes you feel like a stud. But remember. Every time you don, grab or even give an item, you are acting as an evangelist for that brand – intended or not. Think carefully. Do they represent values you care about?

It’s not that hard to use eco-friendly textiles or to recycle. Our company is almost zero waste – the shoes are cradle to cradle (made from recycled and post-consumer textiles and recyclable), we work virtually so as to reduce the carbon footprint, packaging is minimal and recyclable (and recycled), marketing samples are taken from seconds that can’t be sold because of cosmetic flaws. These are simple decisions. And we’re lucky – as entrepreneurs who answer only to our customers and our own consciences – to have the latitude to make those decisions. But seriously, people, it’s not that hard. And for the record, we have never done it because it’s good marketing fodder (though in some circles it is) – we’ve done it because it’s right.

It’s even simpler for the consumer. Just do your research. Know if the brand you’re supporting stands for your values. Care a little about how they operate, what they support. Some great ones? Patagonia, Brooks, Levis, sites like Pure Citizen and Reusit… more and more are popping up. And it’s easier and easier to find companies that give back – many in footwear and accessories like Warby Parker, TOMS, Chooze – and even kigo footwear – we’re giving 20% of all online sales (not just profits – sales) to select non-profits in November and December. We’re psyched to use our company as a vehicle for mission. What a way to say thank you to organizations that really are making a difference (not just making shoes!)

And for companies that make that effort, that are committed and transparent, the goal often is to give consumers a way to do good while they get something good.

Okay. I’m done. Thanks for the soapbox. Go read more Seth – he’s much more articulate than I. And spend your money wisely – if you do, it’ll actually go even farther.

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