A #BehindTheB Special Spotlight
To celebrate International Women’s Day, we’re spotlighting women from the B Corp community who are paving the way towards a better, more equitable future.
From plastic-free packaging to ESG-focused investing to creating art with impact, here are the B Corps to know about, told by the women realizing their missions.
Meg Masten, CoPeace
CoPeace addresses social and environmental problems around the world in two ways. First, through its support in impact investing. Second, through its financial support for brands wanting to demonstrate positive environmental change. Meg Masten, CoPeace’s chief relationship officer, talks about the necessity of social investing today, and where to start if you’re interested.
Why is it important for people to look into the social impact of their investments?
The world cannot wait any longer. According to a recent report by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the climate crisis is worse than originally thought, negatively impacting people around the globe at an accelerated pace.
We must act with intention in all that we do to reverse this trend. From the food we eat, to the goods we buy, to companies that we invest in. It all matters in the mission to create a systemic change.
If people are unsure where, or how, to start making more conscious investing, where would you advise they start?
Financial advisors are becoming more informed about impact investing, often because their clients are demanding it. Seeking out an advisor with a specific ESG focus is a great starting point.
If an investor does not have access to an advisor, WeFunder is a good option to browse conscious investment opportunities. WeFunder is a crowdfunding platform, a Public Benefit Corporation, and Certified B Corporation.
Liza Cohen, Rumi Spice
Rumi Spice is on a mission to bring flavourful, ethically sourced, socially responsible spices from Afghanistan to customers. As well as connecting Afghan farmers to the rest of the world, the brand helps every member of the villages they work in.
Liza Cohen, the brand’s manager of marketing and e-commerce, talks about supporting Afghanistan’s rural agricultural economy and using spice as a force for good.
In celebration of B Corp Month, the Rumi Spice team is offering 15% off any order on their website with code “BCORP15”.
How are you using spices to make the world a better place?
We believe that there is a path to peace in Afghanistan that can come from economic stability, and we believe private investment and companies like ours can be a large part of that. By sharing the beautiful spices grown in Afghanistan and investing back in the people and agricultural economy of the country, we’re using spices as a positive influence.
Furthermore, we use our authentic, bold Afghan spices to create connections to Afghan cuisine, culture, and people. We believe that when Americans are given this real taste of Afghanistan they can come to know the vibrancy of the region and people, not just war and strife. Our mission is to create those connections and with them, peace.
Over 80% of the Afghan population is reliant on the rural agricultural economy. How is Rumi Spice supporting that?
We work directly with more than 4,000 women and nearly 400 farmers as part of the spice harvest. Women work as part of the harvest and processing of our saffron and also in the foraging of our wild black cumin, fennel, and dill seeds. We have also invested in infrastructure, training, and development as a way to support the agricultural community of Afghanistan.
Ultimately, the more we can drive demand for Afghan agricultural products, the more demand there is and the more we can put back into the economy.
Dr. Susanne Etti, Intrepid Travel
As the world’s largest purpose-led adventure travel brand, Intrepid Travel is a B Corp working to align travel with care for the planet. As well as tying its experiences to supporting global communities that are typically underserved, it accelerates sustainability at every travel touchpoint.
Here, its environmental impact specialist Dr. Susanne Etti shares her advice on travelling sustainably and why the world needs environmentally-friendly travel now more than ever.
In your time working and living in six countries, and now with your work at Intrepid Travel, are there any standout examples or ‘tipping points’ that made you realize how desperately the world needs sustainable travel?
My tipping points really were seeing the human impact on climate as I lived and worked around the world. I saw firsthand the deforestation in Ecuador and the effects on biodiversity. I experienced drought and warmer “winters” in Thailand.
I truly got to know the local communities and I gained a deeper insight into the world issues from their perspectives. I was witness to their day-to-day challenges and joys. This intimate cultural perspective has had a long-term impact on how I see the world and how I address diversity and inclusiveness.
What’s one piece of advice you would offer to travellers looking to see the world more sustainability, but are unsure of where to start?
Discover your own back garden. Get to know the people in your community, your country, your First Nation people in the Americas. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, look for opportunities to connect with locals, and always try to make a positive impact on the communities you plan to visit.
Liz Ott, Threespot
Threespot is a digital agency that helps brands that want to help others, and is committed to fighting the status quo.
Liz Ott, president at Threespot, talks about the biggest challenge she’s seen businesses face in her 15 years of creative strategy experience, and why brands today need to be activists.
You say ‘activism is not accidental’. Why do you feel brands today need to be activists?
Every company or brand needs to take a more active and intentional role in understanding both the history that shapes their industry or organization and how both the organization and the brand fit into the lives of the people impacted by their work. The systemic injustices and power imbalances that our communities are experiencing today are a direct reflection of the choices made by people that created and sustained organizations in our past. Brands hold the power to transform our communities and systems. We do not take this work lightly given the amount of power we know brands can yield.
At Threespot, we help organizations to be more intentional with their messaging to create change and work only with organizations in the social sector that are working towards creating a more just and equitable society. We love what we do because we get to work with organizations who inherently care about people and our planet and are willing to do the work required to push progress forward.
You have over 15 years of creative strategy experience. In that time, what would you say is the biggest challenge brands face when it comes to making the world a better place?
One of the biggest challenges that brands face is their own lack of a clear and differentiated purpose which ultimately prevents them from surviving through the inevitable ups and downs. Purpose provides stamina to a brand and results in more staying power. Along with purpose, it is essential that brands have strong content and storytelling. You can’t engage your audience and make change without exceptional storytelling.
Bella Collins, Flexi-Hex
As a coastal business based in the small fishing village of Cornwall, UK, the team at Flexi-Hex sees the effects of waste and climate change on local marine landscapes every day. Its business, which launched an innovative plastic-free packaging sleeve for surfboards, has already prevented over 3100km of plastic from being used.
Bella Collins, Flexi Hex’s head of marketing, talks about why it’s more important than ever to take action now to protect the ocean and how her world-record breaking experience changed her commitment to both the brand and its work.
Why is it more important than ever that we make moves to protect our planet’s oceans?
It’s a well-known fact that, according to the World Economic Forum, there may be more plastic than fish in the oceans by 2050. In 2016, approximately 11% of plastic waste generated globally entered our marine networks and this is an upward trend with huge consequences. With 47% of all plastic waste originating from packaging, it’s something that needs to be addressed.
Being a young start-up, we don’t have all the answers yet but it all starts with asking questions. What do we need to do to restore the systems we depend on? How can our product adapt so it can actually help these systems renew themselves more effectively? Then, how can we work with and support our supply chain to do this? How can we integrate regenerative thinking not only in our product, but how we work as a team; with our customers, and our partners?
We don’t pretend to know everything. That’s why we’re constantly innovating and we’ll share our lessons far and wide so we’re all on the journey of making better decisions together.
Flexi-Hex was born out of a love for the sea. We were surfers looking for a way to transport our boards without using plastic, and without running the risk of damaging them. We were also designers and problem solvers. The scene was set to create our first product. A surfboard packaging sleeve that fit like a wetsuit, used zero plastic, and protected both our boards and the planet.
Today, we’ve prevented over 3100km of plastic from use thanks to our patented paper sleeve and more recently are proud to have become B Corp certified.
Your rowing team recently broke a world record for rowing across the Pacific Ocean from San Francisco to Hawaii. How did this experience change your relationship to the ocean and commitment to Flexi-Hexi’s mission?
Having rowed across two oceans in the last six years, I’ve grown a real emotional connection to the water. It’s something that I need in my life daily for my personal mental health and is something I’m passionate about protecting for generations ahead of us.
I completed my Pacific crossing with the team Ocean Sheroes in July 2021. One thing I was really looking forward to was the abundant wildlife people suggested I would experience on the crossing. Sadly, this wasn’t the reality. In fact, we saw more waste out on the ocean. My brother, who was rowing to Hawaii at the same time, experienced the same thing, but also witnessed a lone turtle drifting unbalanced, likely due to ingesting plastic waste. Facing this first-hand was devastating.
On a positive note, we were privileged to see the most incredible ocean landscapes, ruled by Mother Nature, with 20ft waves one day and pancake flat water the next. The sunrises, sunsets, stars, and storms are truly mind-blowing. Remembering the ocean in its beautiful raw form drives me in my day-to-day role at Flexi-Hex to continue striving to protect it, to be a better business, to put the planet first, and partner with people who are trying to do the same.
Cassidy Coutts, Mondetta
As a brand that fuses fashion with function, the Mondetta brands create versatile clothes with sustainability in mind. With a name that comes from the French word for wo
rld and the Latin suffix for small, its ethos lies in harmonizing the globe through our small worlds.
Cassidy Coutts, Mondetta’s associate marketing manager, talks about creating community and how her work as an influencer inspires her work.
How has your experience as a blogger and influencer translated to your work as a marketing specialist at Mondetta?
My experience as a blogger and influencer has translated seamlessly into my work at Mondetta, specifically when it comes to growing community and relationships with influencers, which in turn generates more brand awareness and expands our customer base.
Having a firsthand perspective from the influencer side of things allows me to develop and nurture long-lasting relationships with influencers (and even key customers) by helping them form a deeper connection with the brand through beneficial partnerships for both parties, supporting them beyond our collaborations, and ensuring they feel valued by our brand.
What do you like most about working for a brand whose mission is so closely tied to sustainability?
Not only do we provide clothing that inspires and encourages people to move their bodies in ways that bring them joy, but we are doing it in a way that minimizes the impact on our planet and remains ethical every step of the way.
The fashion industry is known for its negative environmental impact but being part of an organization that is making a conscious effort in every aspect of our business to provide long-lasting, high-quality apparel at attainable price points allowing more people to access ethically and sustainably made clothing makes me feel proud that we are making great strides in the global movement of responsible fashion.
Cecilie Kongstad, Kongstad Studio
Originally from Denmark but now living in Italy, Cecilie and Tobias Kongstad founded Kongstad Studio to create art with a difference. Inspired by people having a positive impact on society and donating at least 2% of their annual revenue to vital international causes, they’re a prime example of what it means to create art for good.
Cecilie Kongstad, the studio’s co-founder, talks about the power of collaboration and why frustration is an ideal breeding ground for innovation.
You said your successful ‘BOOBIES’ design was born out of frustration. Why do you think frustration can be such a great breeding ground for innovation and positive change?
For me, frustration is often a great driver for innovative thinking. It urges positive change.
I think humans, as a species, have a natural inclination to try and improve or change the status quo. We see it again and again with both smaller and bigger issues – people take it to the streets and demonstrate for equal rights, we make ourselves heard if we experience something unjust.
In its purest form, frustration is an emotional response to stress and can cause quite a lot of harm to our mental health if not dealt with properly. It’s a common feeling that everyone will experience in their life and I believe that if you can turn your frustration into positive action, you can create significant change.
You embark on a number of collaborations with your studio. How do those impact your work as a B Corp?
I am inspired by people working in innovative ways striving to better the world. Our collaborative projects are the most important way for us to fuel positive change because we can do much more when we work together with others.
It is also a huge motivator for me as a person as I am eager to continuously learn about new problems and challenges, and work towards possibly solving them. When we work with other businesses, organizations, and people we learn so much about both the challenges of today and the possible solutions. It’s basically a way for me to keep educating myself on stuff I care about.
To me, art is stories, and I have to choose which stories I would like to tell. It could be anything, but stories about the challenges and solutions of the world is what really gives me a sense of purpose.
Ivy Teng Lei, Exygy & Shop Causes
Exygy partners with social impact organizations to design and build technology that improves lives, Ivy Teng Lei founded the nonprofit Shop Causes to empower small-donor donors to become the backbone of nonprofit fundraising by hosting gift registries for nonprofits.
Here, Ivy shares what it is about her work that makes her proud, and what offered the push to found Shop Causes.
Can you share about a specific project you led growth on that you’re most proud to have been part of?
As Head of Growth, I manage both business development and marketing strategy. In a social impact organizations, that means more than just winning new clients and attracting more clicks. When I think about my proudest moments, I reflect on the new voices we bring to the table and the positive impact they have in the tech for good space. With every campaign, decision, or market, I focus on building larger stages, brighter spotlights, and louder microphones to amplify our partners, users, and communities who often don’t get the airtime they deserve.
Shop Causes connects causes serving immigrants and refugees to donors. What was the tipping point or defining moment that pushed you to found it?
I arrived in Manhattan Chinatown as an undocumented immigrant. When both my parents lost their jobs on 9/11, federal, state, and citywide assistance programs did not reach families like mine. Because of our immigration status, social services continued to be out of reach and we depended on our neighbors and relatives to help make ends meet.
Today, as I hold both my lived experience and identity as a woman in tech, I created Shop Causes to build a platform for small-dollar donors to make a big difference by donating towards tax-deductible items serving our most vulnerable communities.
Liz Hunt, Smith Assembly
After meeting as volunteers in Botswana, Smith Assembly’s co-founders Liz Hunt and Ta Corrales decided to set up something that combines engineering with creativity to produce memorable user experiences and products.
Here, Hunt discusses how her business does that by collaborating with grassroots innovators and agreeing on a leave of absence to become an astronaut.
It’s your dream to become an astronaut. How does your work at Smith Assembly scratch that itch and what does it, as a company, share with NASA?
When we started our business, I told my co-founder that I’d need a leave of absence if I was ever given the chance to explore our moon or solar system. She laughed, but agreed as she fully supports my lifelong dream of becoming an astronaut.
On or off our planet, there’s nothing I’d rather do than help make our society more inclusive, equitable, and sustainable. Smith Assembly, like NASA, is solutions-driven, brave, collaborative, and inspiring. I’m proud of my work with both organizations.
We love that your workshops have been co-designed by and feature grassroots innovators from Oaxaca, Mexico. Why are these collaborations so important to you?
I love collaborating. My co-founder and I belong to a network of 1,000+ brilliant innovators in 30+ countries who make positive social and environmental impacts in their communities.
Some of the most welcoming, fun, and inspirational experiences I’ve had have been with grassroots innovators from that network (including Estrella Soto and Enoc Ramírez from Oaxaca México). Smith Assembly’s workshops, which are co-created with and feature global innovators, raise awareness that transformative design is happening all the time in communities around the world, not just in Ivy Leagues and Silicon Valley.
We want to challenge the dominant narrative of who is a designer as well as the dominance of north-to-south innovations. Society should recognize and invest in innovators from all over the world!
Betty-Lou Wiseman, AMS Fulfillment
Fulfillment is a major part of most businesses, so being able to not just get it right but ensure its reducing environmental impact is key. That’s what AMS Fulfillment specializes in.
Its president Betty-Lou Wiseman talks about the changes she’s seen in the business since its founding in 2002 and how material innovation could change the game.
What’s the biggest change you’ve seen when it comes to sustainability and fulfillment since you founded AMS Fulfillment in 2002?
The biggest change by far is the growing awareness and enthusiasm from brands to become more sustainable in their manufacturing and fulfillment practices, which is fantastic.
More and more, consumers are making buying decisions based on a brand’s commitment to the betterment of our planet, which in turn is driving positive change when it comes to packaging, pack-out, and fulfillment.
We read that you’re looking into hemp products as a versatile, sustainable alternative to plastic. How could material innovation change and impact the fulfillment industry in future?
The number one area of focus for AMS in terms of sustainability is finding the best possible shipping and packing alternatives for our planet, and there is a lot of debate on what is best. The challenge for us is in choosing what makes the most sense at this point in time, much of which has to do with how the consumer handles the waste.
There are pros and cons with almost every variation, including the protection of goods in transit (damaged goods generate added cost for our clients as well as the planet). Whether it’s biodegradable, compostable, virgin plastic, post-consumer plastic, paper/corrugate, you can find drawbacks to every alternative out there today.
Single use plastic is not good for our planet, on that I believe we are all in agreement. If plastic mailers are the choice, we push hard for post-consumer and/or recyclable within a consumer’s curbside recycle bin. We are joining coalitions, researching, and pushing hard to refine our catalog of supplies that our clients can feel secure in utilizing from an environmental perspective.
Cindy Tysinger, Regenrus
With a belief that what we put in our bodies supports both our physical and mental health, Regenrus uses product science to create lines of skin and wellness products, and tea.
Cindy Tysinger, the company’s founder, discusses the importance of courage as a business leader and how her time work for the US Department of Defense forms her work today.
You said you consider courage to be one of the most important qualities of a leader. Why do you feel brands in 2022 need to make courage part of their foundation?
Thanks to the internet, our world is awakening and consumers are more educated and savvy when making buying decisions. Women direct 83% of all consumption in the United States in buying power and influence. Women are using their buying power to change how businesses operate. Therefore, businesses must have the courage to step outside the box, take risks, be authentic, and learn to thrive by giving more than they take.
Businesses must have the courage to reward leaders who are empathetic, compassionate, listens to others, who are inclusive and purpose driven. We must empower our workforce to have the courage to try something new, particularly when we have not done it before.
To have the courage to trust in each other and the courage of our voice, to tell the truth no matter how hard it may be for others to hear. Courage is an important virtue where we agree to always do the right thing, to do good, even when it is difficult.
Before Regenrus you spent time working for the US Department of Defense. How did that experience act as an early precursor to Regenrus? Are there any defining lessons you still adhere to from that time?
My 25 years of experience working for the US Department of Defense was rewarding and hard work being a woman in engineering in the 1970s. Being raised in a proud military family, my patriotic roots go way back to birth. The values I learned and grew up with have carried me throughout my entire life and career.
The lessons I learned gave me the courage to take on the role of Chief Technology Officer at a Global public company, growing it to 400M+. To start an award-winning tech company at the age of 50 in 2008 that my sons now lead. Followed by founding Regenrus at the young age of 60, a Certified B Corp company with products and services that are both regenerative and generous and RegenrusCARES a 501(c)(3) at 64. We believe taking care of people, animals, and our planet should come before profit.
Conscious leadership combined with innovation, dedication, perseverance, flexibility, and discipline are defining lessons I’ve adhered to from my early beginnings. Gratitude, trusting the process with patience, and understanding and empowering others to rise to their potential feeds my soul.
Thanks for coming Behind The B with us to celebrate International Women’s Day! Join us all March long as we spotlight B Corps who are challenging the status quo and helping build a better world.