Create an ethical business and give back with your brand

Create social good and give back with your brand | Rebecca Hawkes

From charities, non-profits to eco friendly businesses and voting with your dollar, there is power in giving back. While running your own business you get to make all the choices, but how can we combine our morals with our brand to create ethical impact?

In a time where no matter where we look there are people that are struggling and are hurting. From politics to violence, to personal relationships, conflicts and everything in between. We sit with the weight of it all feeling tired and stuck in the position of the helpless. We feel the energy of injustice, and of fear.

Today I really want to talk to you about how you can make changes in your brand in order to help others. It is important as in times of uncertainty when a vast amount of people are hurting and coming to terms with circumstances outside of their own control we need to harness that energy into constructive power. We have to be the change we want to see in the world.

As business owners we have the power to run our work our self-given positions in a way that not only benefits ourselves but can make a huge difference in the lives of others. We can focus our energy into hope.

'We didn't come this far to have only come this far' | Rebecca Hawkes

We have more power than we realise and not is the time to harness it for social good.

Start with the why
When we go into business there is, usually, a burning desire to create something new, a new product or idea to launch. Get deep! What was this? For me I didn’t plan to become a freelance designer at all but when the opportunity came my way to design for a magazine, I rolled up my sleeves and learn’t on the job.Years later I have grown my business with intention and come to realise that building a successful brand starts with the ‘why’.

When you’re thrown into situations by life, you roll with punches and forget to ask why? Why are you creating that product? Why should people buy from you? Aligning with your highest aspect of who you are, your values and who you want to serve, and getting really clear with this will be the starting point for where you can give back.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with not taking into account giving back in your initial business plan as most of the time we just need to know that we can provide for ourselves and family before we even get the opportunity to take care of others. But by finding definition in why we want to create, produce and go to market with our ideas we should know who we want to serve and how. We have the potential to make changes in the lives of others. That is powerful and the more we embrace that the more we can achieve!

The many ways of ‘how’

Choose to invest in what you believe
Research the companies backing and do there moral compass align with that of your own. For many woman I have spoken to this means supporting other small businesses and women lead businesses similar to their own as they know first hand that these need support.

Instead of investing in marketing your business through social media platforms that have values that don’t align with yours, or have shady intentions you cannot trust, look to platforms that give back while serving you. You have power to invest with your money. Money is energy so we should focus our energy into other businesses we believe in.

Ideas on how to invest in what you believe: buy from companies that support communities and advertise with the fair-trade label, vegan society label or not tested on animals label. Advertise your business on blogs and websites of fellow business owners that share the same values. Investigate the up-coming social media channels that have sustainability in the forefront of their minds.

Choosing to donate or give a percentage of your profit to charity
Like myself you may choose to tally up your profits from each calendar year and give a percentage to charity. For me this makes every new client sign on a celebration for both myself and client but also for the chosen charity who benefits by design. When choosing which charity to donate to, make sure that this aligns with your own values and the clients that you wish to work with. For me as a vegan designer working with sustainable and eco friendly brands I choose to donate to animal related charities that create havens for those in need.

Other ways you can encourage your customers to donate by default of hiring you or buying your products is to build it into the product prices. Be inspired by 1Face watch company and vegan handbag designer Angela Roi , who with each colourful purchase donate to a corresponding charity. Maybe you offer a perfume and yourself and consumer donate to planned parenthood? Or when you package up a jumper for your customer you slip in a beautifully designed postcard describing where there money is doing good in the world?

Eco brands with social impact in business model | Rebecca Hawkes


See the change in your own community
Quite often when we look at making a difference, the vastness of injustice in the world is overwhelming. There are too many people, animals and causes that need help that all too easily we cannot see how we can make a difference. When you are overwhelmed by the ‘big’ start small.

There are changes that we can make to our local communities and in our daily lives that impact others more than we can even imagine. Could you make time to offer your services at a local school to teach younger generations that they can too run their own businesses in the future? You could offer up your time to help those in your community, or hire help within your community. You could take inspiration from Danish app ‘Too good to go’ and build your business around the local community. This app connects users with local restaurants that will be throwing out leftover food, and instead offers it up at a reasonable price helping both customer, local businesses and decreasing the amount of food waste produced. Or look to Norwegian brand Eple Slang who encourage motivated people with disabilities and young people to work with them to pick surplus apples from the trees in Oslo and then turns them into 100% pure organic apple juice. Their packaging is beautiful too!

Creating and collaboration for and with ‘not-for-profit’ businesses and charities.
Follow the more traditional route and reach out to charities you believe in. Either simply with donations or with your time, charities and not-for-profit are always in need of support. You could collaborate with an animal shelter by photographing there pups to help promote fostering. Offer to raise awareness of their cause or collaborate on a product that benefits both your business and the charity.

Charities do have a budget for work so there is not necessarily a collaboration that doesn’t benefit you too while helping out a good cause but of course be aware that these budgets are tight and any help as a donation helps.

Document giving back to inspire others
When we do good in the world, we don’t often share what we are doing to help. Of this I know I often too shy away from talking about my beliefs and the choices I make in alignment to them. The reason? We don’t want to come across at though we believe we are better than anyone else. We want to come across as authentic but not ‘mightier than though’, so instead we do not share and as a result conversations aren’t struck, and change is slow to happen. What would happen if we turn this on it’s head and instead by sharing (not showing off!) what we are working on, be open to why and how we struggle with these issues ourselves, we inspire and empower others to do the same.

When we make changes and strive to do better, we hope to grow the conversation, change the paradigm and empower the community around us.