Do you have a values-driven business you can recommend?
(Photo credit: Chandel Brandimarti, @studioprose_)
This is a question I get asked by colleagues, clients, and friends, all the time.
At the heart of this question, is the desire people have to make a positive difference in the world through the purchasing decisions they make. They are also seeking to be profoundly coherent with their own values.
In response to this question I have been inspired to spread the love through my email and blog, by showcasing businesses guided by a higher purpose and noble values.
You will not only learn of purpose and values-driven businesses that are contributing to a more just and regenerative world.
You will also gain insights into how to activate your own purpose and values through your life and work.
There is nothing like living a life of deep coherence, where our values take shape in the work we do and in the world we are striving to create!
The first business I have the pleasure to introduce you to is CARMEN GET IT!, created by founder Carmen Hawker, communicator, copywriter, storyteller, changemaker, and encourager of others.
Carmen and I met after a talk I gave on conscious business at a BWG Event. Her enthusiasm, authenticity and thoughtfulness stayed with me.
We then got to know each other better when she attended my one-day Values Masterclass, back in 2019.
Now, 18 months on, I am a very happy client of hers.
I invited her to respond to 5 questions that help all of us learn what is at the heart of purpose and values-driven entrepreneurship and business.
I love her story, because it shines a light on the importance of listening deeply to our core values, honouring and acknowledging the strengths we have and our personal context, doing things differently, collaborating (!) and moving forward purposefully with our whole heart.
Read on and explore:
- What inspired her to found CARMEN GET IT!
- How the pandemic impacted her business and how she responded
- What values inspire and underpin her biz and new product line
- How she has chosen her suppliers and collaborators
- What other ethical businesses and initiatives she is supporting through her work as a talented communicator
There are some tough choices we are called to make as we navigate our lives. Your guiding compass – your purpose, values and impact goals – as well as your qualities like courage, self-compassion, and creativity, make the choices much clearer and inspired!
Learn how Carmen has used her compass to create a meaningful and purposeful career of impact. Get in touch here to chat to me about the programs we offer at Barasa to support your purpose and values-driven journey.
1. What inspired you to found CARMEN GET IT!?
If I can be blunt – it was originally out of necessity; I had just lost my job. I got fired from what I thought was a ‘dream job’ in a sector I’d given my blood, sweat and tears to for the better part of a decade. It was at that moment I decided never to put my fate in other people’s hands so overtly again. I figured if I wanted to give of my blood, sweat and tears again (and frankly, I never do anything half-heartedly), then it’d be working for myself, on my terms.
Of course, I can now see that this is what I was meant to be doing all along, and the universe was giving me somewhat of an almighty shove in the right direction. While I didn’t fully appreciate it at the time – I had learned a lot from my time in the women’s health and development sector. I learned how to tell a compelling story that fosters connection and empathy; I learned how to run an impactful advocacy and fundraising campaign; I learned how to use digital communications and social media to do good; and I knew no other way than to be purpose- and values-driven.
So, when it came time to design a business that would equal parts help people, help me, draw on my skills, and be what the world needs more of – compassion, creativity, courage and colour – the answer was clear: bring the non-profit heart and the business head to the hands of social enterprises.
Now I get to help awesome folks across B Corps, purpose-driven businesses and social enterprises to inject more strategy, storytelling and sass into their copy, campaigns and communications so that all the people making the world better can shout it from the damn rooftops.
2. How did the pandemic impact your business?
There were so many people who did it so tough in 2020, and I know that the after-effects of the pandemic will be felt in industries for years to come. However, I was incredibly fortunate that, when it came time to ‘pivot’, businesses needed help to communicate that, and they finally seemed to grasp the importance of considered and thoughtful communications.
I’ve never been busier than I was in those first few months of lockdown in 2020, which was a privilege and one I don’t take for granted. However, it did also show me that my business model was unsustainable and too heavily reliant on me ‘doing the work’. As someone with a history of burn out, and chronic health issues, this was something I couldn’t afford to ignore – quite literally.
The truth is – there are always going to be so many words I can write, or campaigns I can help run, or strategies I can help create. I needed something that could grow or scale a little more easily, without me having to manage or hire a whole team, but that could also give me energy when I felt like I was giving everything I had to clients. Enter: the GET IT! Store.
I believe in joy as a business strategy, so I thought back to how much fun I used to have playing ‘shop’ as a kid, with a mini cash register, dreaming of one day having more customers than my little sisters! So, I decided to use 2020 as an opportunity to launch a range of products that would brighten people’s days, when everything around seemed so doom and gloom. While my sisters are still my biggest supporters, thankfully they’re not the only ones who share my love of big earrings and bright stationery.
In some ways, COVID has left many people feeling less connected and more isolated – so by creating colourful products that have a compelling story, I am hoping to do my bit to spark connection and conversation and bring people a little closer together (but appropriately distanced!).
3. What are the values that inspire and underpin your product line?
Great question – and I truly think of values so differently thanks to Dimity’s Values Masterclass, which I was lucky enough to attend in November 2019 just before I started my business.
Your values have to be actionable, measurable, tangible and give you clear ways to make decisions – otherwise they’re not worth the paper they’re written on. For my store, and the products in it, that means everything we do is predicated on these three values: fun, feminist and fresh.
- Fun → because otherwise what’s the point! There are so many things in our world to take seriously – but the things you wear on your earlobes don’t have to be one of them. My products (and even my copy) are all about not taking yourself too seriously, having some fun, and spreading that fun around to everyone you meet.
- Feminist → because we have all had enough of extractive, exploitative business practices, and I don’t want to contribute to inequity and injustice in any way through my products. All of my products are made by women sole traders, they can be worn or used by anyone, and some even fund days of education for women and girls. I’d prefer not to make something at all than to cut ethical corners or take advantage of women or other marginalised peoples just to save a few dollars. Someone always pays the price, right?
- And lastly, fresh → because I want to offer something new, something different, something that might not have been tried before like The Galendar™, where there are no dates and people can choose to decorate it in a way that represents them and their lifestyle. You won’t see these products anywhere else, and so it’s about providing something fresh and fabulous for people to brighten their days.
With the Store, I wanted to build a supportive and inclusive community where people celebrate and champion each other , and where they feel safe and free to express who they are, what they want and what they stand for. I chose to do this by creating a series of bright and eye-catching physical reminders in the form of accessories, stationery and jewellery that express our collective creativity and embolden people to ‘get it’, whatever ‘it’ means to them.
4. Can you tell me a little more about how you decided on your suppliers and collaborators?
Yes! I was quite deliberate with how I went about creating the Store and the products in it. I believe that collaborations make the world go ‘round. After all, who needs competition when you can have community?
I also want to see more money in the hands of more women, and I want my business to be able to support other women living their values and their dreams through their own businesses. Essentially by co-creating products with my favourite talented women makers = money and joy for them, cool products for all of us.
I should also say that – sometimes you just gotta know when to play to your strengths. I am creative but I am more your ideas girl and your wordsmith, than your crafter. That’s why I chose to team up with the experts and why I figure we will all go further together, if we stick to what we do best.
5. What other ethical business / purpose-led business initiatives are you supporting through your work as a talented communicator?
Ooh so many! I have the absolute privilege of working with a handful of businesses with big hearts and even bigger dreams who are doing very important work to make the world better for you and me, so thanks for giving me the platform to give them a little shout out.
One I’d like to share is my work with Pure Finance, Australia’s first specialist mortgage brokerage to become a certified B Corp. We are just putting the finishing touches on their 2020 Impact Report, which is a must read if I do say so myself! Companies that say they’re doing things differently, better be able to bloody back it up – and these folks certainly do.
I also have the pleasure of working with some very talented women on a platform to increase women’s financial literacy and confidence called Ladies Talk Money. It’s unapologetic. It pulls no punches. And it is changing the financial futures of women, one conversation at a time.
Another would be the chance to help grow the impact economy with the team at Digital Storytellers, who are crafting a more positive narrative for the world through their beautiful videos, eye-catching illustrations and heart-warming animations. Or helping AirRobe tell the story of how they’re helping keep fashion out of landfill for longer and helping retailers join the circular economy in one simple click. Or advocating for free and accessible childcare and early childhood education with Verve Super and a group of passionate predominantly women-led businesses for the Make It Free campaign. I count myself exceptionally lucky to be able to work with some many great people!
6. Anything else?
There are lots of small maker businesses out there, and there are lots of service-based businesses out there – but I don’t see too many trying to do both, particularly when one is writing copy and the other is designing earrings! I have been told a few times that I should split the two because it’s too much of a challenge to create a cohesive brand when the audiences and the offerings for the two sides of the business are so different. But when have I ever shied away from a challenge?
I got into this so that I could create a business and a livelihood that worked for me, and did a little good for people along the way. And so, I’m committed to finding a way of telling the story that you can be values-driven, swing big and GET IT! whatever ‘it’ means to you, whether that’s through some kickass content or a pair of gigantic earrings!
We run a series of programs and workshops to help you build and run a values-driven enterprise, from identifying and activating your unique values, to articulating your purpose and impact goals. Get in touch here.