For the vast majority of us, living an objectively cruelty-free life is virtually impossible. We don’t know where most of the ingredients or components of the products we surround ourselves with came from, what environmental damage or suffering occurred in the production and utilization of vehicles to transport goods, or how those who profit or gain employment from these goods spend their earnings. The world is a complex matrix of very difficult-to-trace variables and considerations.
Recently Nike made Colin Kaepernick the face of its new marketing campaign.
The campaign includes an advertisement that is extremely powerful. Just watching it inspires viewers to go out and accomplish something incredible. However, what makes the advertisement special is that it provides Colin Kaepernick with a new platform for protesting police brutality against African Americans and has put this cause back in the spotlight.
I don’t remember the last time an advertisement was this polarizing.
That’s the tagline that flew out of my mouth during our first coaching call with Karen Kahn, founder of iFundWomen. We joked around about it, but that’s pretty much the thrust of this whole endeavor. Because there are a lot of people who give a sh*t, looking for ways to make a difference.
When we talk about what we’re aiming for, we talk about creating an online marketplace that helps people activate their everyday dollars through something most of us can’t avoid doing — buying stuff.
40 or 50 years ago, it was really easy to buy local. With the possible exception of certain items imported from Europe, if you wanted decent quality at a reasonable price, you looked for the made in the USA label.
Whenever I cross the water, I step off that ferry into the Seattle stew of startups. Half of the people I've met over the past few months are part of a startup, want to work for a startup, are thinking of starting up a startup (though I haven't met as many people who are aching to give money to startups - those are elusive).
Both together and separately, Edgar and I have attended events like Startup Grind, Founders Live, F-Bomb Breakfast Club, Startup Week - the list goes on. We discuss accelerator vs. incubator, advisors and board members, shares and equity. I have been added to countless facebook groups, and trying to have meaningful discussion in the midst of all of this has begun to feel frantic. I have trouble remembering who I met where, and why I need to remember what we talked about. This is not a good feeling, as I am a person who truly values communication and personal relationships over most other things.
Despite Valentine’s Day being an excuse for the world of things to push all that glitters, cards that pop open and sing, and overpriced bouquets of roses into our collective hands, there is a certain amount of nostalgic sentiment attached to the holiday, and some of us enjoy celebrating it despite all the fuss, in our own way (especially if that involves chocolate, fresh flowers and good food).
Edgar and I attended an event last week (Founders Live at The Riveter in Seattle - it was great prep for when I have to get up on that stage for 99 seconds of pitching). Over a cup of boxed wine, I ended up in a discussion about why we are starting our app with groceries, when that's clearly the most difficult sector - for a variety of reasons. Finding accurate information about ingredients, sources, companies, parent companies - it's a huge undertaking. But it's necessary, we believe.
Then it came to brand loyalty and how we choose what we buy and eat...
A few months ago, I sent a list of exploratory questions to some excellent moms I know, and they were kind enough to send me answers promptly (which I then promptly let slip to the bottom of my inbox, buried under a bunch of other to-dos and go-dos and whatever else - but better late than never!).
I've been thinking today about pain points, challenges, things that come up that make our shopping experiences more difficult than necessary (for a whole host of very personal reasons).
Here's the first question I asked:
What are your biggest challenges in terms of grocery shopping (besides having kids with you)?
Sara here, just tinkering with some ideas about Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday and shopping in general.
What did you do with your hard-earned cash after Thanksgiving? If you went shopping, what did you buy and where did you buy it, and why?
I've never been a Black Friday Shopper. The thought of waiting in violence-laced lines for a 1000-inch television or a rare athletic shoe makes me want to curl up and watch the fireplace channel on my regular old normal sized TV, on the couch I got for free from my neighborhood Buy Nothing group a couple of years ago. I'm a proud (sometimes) procrastinator when it comes to purchasing gifts for holidays, and in the past few years, my family has gotten more and more minimalist when it comes to presents. Both of my parents say 'I don't need anything, don't buy me anything'; my sister, who works so incredibly hard for everything she has, says 'I'm so sorry, I'm going to have to send you baked goods again this year'. Which is NOT a downgrade - I love her home-made treats, and they make my whole household incredibly happy. Isn't that all we really need?
Oscar Wilde once said, 'Everything in moderation, including moderation' - perfect for a time of year when we fill pillow cases with candy, dunk our heads into barrels of apples, and engage in all manner of costumed debauchery.
On a typical day, you probably wouldn't find yourself giving the go-ahead to your kids to cram a bunch of sugar into their faces after dark, but Halloween is very special (for children and the adults who sneak into their candy buckets to squirrel away choice pieces for secret enjoyment).
Halloween is also a wonderful time to share your values with your entire neighborhood! It's easy to align your treats (maybe not your tricks) with your personal values, and even on Halloween, contribute to making the world a better more compassionate place for everyone. At least until the sugar crash.
Even though it is fairly uncontroversial to say that exploiting people to make money is wrong, a large number of companies owe much of their success to doing just that. It is so prevalent in certain industries that exploitation is essentially a standard operating procedure. Some of the industries with the worst reputations include extraction/mining of rare metals and fossil fuels (which is in tech devices and cars), seafood harvesting and processing, clothing and textile manufacturing, and cocoa production. Exploitation in these industries take a wide-range of forms: human trafficking, slavery, sweatshops, child labor, environmental injustice, to name just a few.
School is upon is, and barring any nut allergies in the vicinity, it may very well be Peanut Butter Jelly Time (whether or not you've heard that song before, if you click that link it will get stuck in your head - you're welcome!).
You may have noticed that most companies have been slow to express outrage or provide counter messaging to the recent rise of right-wing extremist hate groups and the current US Administration’s non-denunciation of these groups. For the most part, the only companies that have taken any meaningful action are large tech companies, well insulated by their market positions.
Clearly, we realize that when we talk about the welfare of animals in the same breath as value-based meat consumption, there's a bit of a disconnect.
If we were discussing absolutes, we'd have to say that someone who really cares about the welfare of animals simply wouldn't eat meat. But no one expects the world to work like that, and there are companies and certifying groups that are working diligently to lessen the discomfort and pain of animals that will be turned into food.
OF ALL OF THE WAYS A COMPANY CAN DO GOOD IN THE WORLD, MAKING THE DECISION TO BE A CHAMPION FOR LGBT & GENDER EQUALITY IS A MAJOR ONE.
It takes a lot of intentionality, conversation, openness and transparency to ensure that the workplace is a safe, supportive space for everyone, regardless of gender, sexual orientation or preference. Since it's still MEAT WEEK (!) we focused today's post on finding brands that align with this particular value.
Providing good guidance on consciously consuming meat is a tricky thing.
We know that this is a controversial and emotional subject.
And there's no way we can cover every nuance of it. But we'll spend the week on ways to align meat eating with personal values, and end with an interview with a wellness coach who can shed some light on nutritional values as well!
As I’ve gotten older, my drinking tastes and habits have changed, perhaps one could say they’ve matured. I now shy away from drinks I think might give me a headache after only one round (bottom-shelf tequila margarita), anything lit on fire, or served in a giant, plastic boot. With alcohol having such a profound impact on many of my experiences, I now consider whom I’m support with my imbibing choices in order to try to align them more closely with some of my personal values.
What if you had a conversation like this on the 4th of July?
“Hey, Uncle Jim, I’m glad you’re enjoying that beer. You know, it’s not only cold and refreshing, but the company that creates it provides healthcare to the partners of all its employees even if they aren’t in traditional male-female marriages ...
Doesn’t it taste even better now?”
Independence Day is one of those rare holidays that’s really about reveling in the fact that we are part of something much bigger than ourselves: a community of people who make up the United States of America. Regardless of whether or not we agree with political or international policies, the vast majority of us will get together with friends and family to eat, drink, and celebrate with things that sparkle and go boom.
It has been two years since I first began creating Project Simpatico.
That's pretty slow for a startup. In all honesty, the slog has involved much more about coming to grips with what I don’t know and finding the right people to take fill those roles than almost anything else.
GOOD INTENTIONS + BEING PROACTIVE MOST CERTAINLY DO NOT EQUAL A SUCCESSFUL BUSINESS.
I originally came up with the idea for this company about four years ago, while driving out to the beach to go surfing in Ghana. I had spent years working abroad as an international humanitarian and development worker, but was interested in progressing on. The friend I was traveling with was involved in determining motivations and trends for economic decision-making in local markets. We started talking about what values motivate people to make their purchasing decisions and would people alter these purchasing decisions if they could see their proximate effects.This became the initial premise for Project Simpatico.