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What advice would you give to people setting out to build their own sustainable business?

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What advice would you give to people setting out to build their own sustainable business?

Earth Day is a key date in the global sustainability calendar which aims to raise awareness about climate change and inspire the need to act towards protecting and conserving our natural environment and ecosystems. In recognition of Earth Day tomorrow, read on to find out what advice our Butterfly Mark-certified brands would give to those setting out to build a sustainable business…

The most efficient way to establish a sustainable business is to start as you mean to go on. If you put your own codes of practice into play from the word go, then you not only set a precedent for your own commitment, but also make space for other likeminded partners and suppliers to support you in your quest. Don’t compromise and stick to your knitting!

Susie Willis, Founder & CEO, Romilly Wilde

Research, research, research! Take the time to really research and understand the shortcomings of the industry, find out and learn all you can about new greener technologies, materials and processes that can be baked into the business model from the beginning. It is very tempting to launch quickly, but that often means cutting corners or simply not being thorough enough. It will never be perfect and there will always be room for improvement, but that upfront thorough research is invaluable!

Monica Miller, CEO of Santicler

Focus on one thing and do it well. That could be regenerative non-plastic packaging, or your carbon footprint, your supply chain, or being 100% organic. It may be a cliché, but it isn’t easy ‘being green’. It takes resources, effort, research, time and commitment. Trying to do everything at once will result in a heavy financial burden and require a lot of energy. Initially focusing on one key deliverable will enable you to become the expert.

Jayn Sterland, Managing Director of Weleda UK

Anyone can build a business, but to do so with integrity is an admirable challenge, one that will allow you to look in the mirror as you create something of worth. You will never get everything right, but you will have the opportunity to explore your options by staying open to new ideas and ways to enhance the sustainability around what you are building. Do it properly, or don’t do it at all. Luxury should be by its very nature – sustainable!

Joy Isaacs, Founder of Argentum Apothecary

Being able to start your sustainability strategy right from the word go is truly wonderful . You can weave all your strategies around sustainability and it can become the core of your business. My advice would be to build it into your business DNA, it’s a win for the planet and a commercial advantage.

Fleur Christacos, CEO & Founder of Fleur of England

Our advice would be to prioritize long-term success by setting sustainable growth goals (as one is rarely in a position of knowing everything from the get-go). Small, steady growth is better than being a shooting star. Take time in the product development phase. Ask A LOT of questions! Be involved in the details and search for the best, sustainable suppliers and ethical, reliable production partners.

Jota-Kena Team

Building a sustainable business is not the easiest way of creating a business. It’s important to surround yourself with experts particularly the R&D, sourcing and packaging fields. It’s a long and continuous journey!

Francisco Costa, Founder of Costa Brazil

Be resilient and focused. Do not take no for an answer. Challenge comments like “that is not possible” or “that cannot be done”. You must be prepared to persevere to achieve your goals.

Alessandro Vergano, CEO & Founder of KAMPOS

I have started ALBIVA with the opportunity and passion to do things differently – especially when it came to sustainability, placing it at the core of the company. I believe building a business on your beliefs and not compromising on your values will set the tone for the vision, company culture, people you want to hire, collaborations, product building and running day-to-day operations. Think long-term and don’t trade short-term gains for long-term successes.

Ivana Iesini, Founder of ALBIVA

To successfully achieve a sustainable brand takes a multi layered approach that requires a commitment not only to supporting the environment, but a thorough understanding of what impact your day to day business activities has on it and more importantly what steps you can you take to limit this. To be sustainable isn’t easy or inexpensive and we can all do more, no matter what stage in the sustainable journey your are – its an ever evolving situation that needs continuous adjustment to your corporate social responsibilities to ensure your business has a positive impact on the challenges the natural world faces both now and in the future.

Lisa Franklin, Facialist & Founder of Lisa Franklin Skincare

Be courageous, optimistic and have a clear vision of what your business purpose is. Treat the sphere that surrounds you with respect, taking each ‘sustainability’ steppingstone as your guide to your company achievements. Strive and be proud to be part of a generation that is inspiringly pro-active rather than reactive.
And of course, always remember to breathe, dream and nurture yourself.

Bav Tailor, Founder of BAV TAiLOR

I would advise anyone looking to create a sustainable business to educate themselves and start by researching and understanding the types business models that can drive positive change towards global issues such as climate change and income inequality. Also, as a next step, I suggest to explore the broader economic and social landscape in which one wishes to operate. Lastly, I would recommend the use of science, transparency and certification to substantiate sustainability claims.

Tina Bhojwani, Co-Founder & CEO of AERA

Make it intrinsic to your business planning and how you run the business by adopting a triple bottom line approach to running the business: People, Planet, Profit. Make it a core part of every employee’s job, not just a chosen few believers. Make a concerted effort to search out suppliers who share your values and know-how to contribute to your success – and exit the ones that don’t, can’t or won’t. Confidently tell your customers what you’re doing and why it matters, and don’t be afraid of sticking to your principles – turning a blind eye ends well for no one. Accept that it’s a long journey and takes time – and that you’ll never be done!

Richard Eagleton, CEO of McQueens Flowers

Building a sustainable business is a journey. Lay strong foundations based on genuine ethical and emotional values and always steady your compass against these. Be proud to start small; review your packaging, your shipping, your carbon offset. Set goals with realistic milestones and be prepared to have very honest reviews of your own business. Ask uncomfortable questions of your suppliers. Know who you are working with, motivate and inspire them to join you on this journey. We are living in an era of great innovation, research the opportunities to understand where you can make discernible change. 

Kirstie Duke and Lucinda Waite, Co-Founders of Töastie

A close and collaborative relationship with supply chain partners and vendors is key to ensuring products, goods, and services are delivered efficiently, reliably, and sustainably. As a heritage brand, Smythson has forged strong relationships with our stakeholders, allowing us to have a greater level of visibility and flexibility throughout our supply chain. It is through these strong partnerships that we’re able to make positive changes to our operations for a more sustainable future.

Smythson of Bond Street

With your goals and intentions in place, take these as road signs to guide you and your business forward. Encourage periodic sustainability checkups of your internal operations. Challenging the existing efforts and framework to unearth opportunities for improvement. For example, asking questions in the likes of, are there areas in the supply-chain I can source locally? Is it possible to introduce remote working full-time or part-time? Can we reduce the number of business trips involving air travel?

Livia Manca Di Villahermosa, Founder and Director of Balance Holidays

Written by - Emma Mortassagne

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