Mission-driven strategies help redefine corporate culture. In a new corporate landscape, where America’s top business leaders are shifting focus from shareholder profit to ethical practices and investment in employees and community, a young breed of female-led indie beauty brands has been practicing business with a higher purpose since inception. This modern definition of corporate culture stresses giving while growing—where the founding principles embrace a philanthropic brand mission from the outset, not as an afterthought. Honoring a greater purpose for giving back and enriching communities is cemented into the foundation of their company ethos, where philanthropy is central to the identity of the brand and its founder.
When Danielle Conte founded Conscious Coconut, an exquisite line of coconut oil that multitasks as a panacea for the skin, she answered a call to give back that is vertically integrated into each step of her production. Fair Trade certification protects everything from the coconut farmers and pickers to the manufacturers, drivers, and packers of Conscious Coconut, all of whom support small-batch runs that adhere to sustainability and responsible farming. Orders are filled stateside at the MacDonald Training Center, where developmentally disabled adults are fairly compensated to complete every order. Post-sale, Conscious Coconut is committed to raising awareness for childhood hunger in the United States by donating a meal to a child in need through Feeding America food banks.
“This business isn’t a linear model,” said Conte, “It is a universal web that recognizes all the hands that touch our product at every step of the way, from the communities where the trees are grown in the Philippines to our order fulfillment center in Tampa. Throughout the process, we are humbled and astounded by the professionalism and success ratios our employees honor us with. It proves that in giving back, we indeed will receive bountifully.”
Personal experience led Linda Treska, Founder and CEO of Pinch of Color, to create a cosmetics company that puts their mission at the forefront of their business. Extensive experience in the beauty industry at brands such as Estée Lauder and Laura Mercier empowered Treska to leverage the power of business to aid a humanitarian mission, freshwater deficiency, which plagues many struggling countries, including her own, Albania. As one of the few waterless beauty brands on the market, Pinch of Color strives to educate consumers on water and natural resource conservation, mindful leadership, and the notion that business should honor a purpose that extends beyond profit.
“My philosophy behind my brand was simple: Let’s create waterless beauty products and save our water resources,” said Treska, who invested company resources to partner with local NGOs around the world to bring access to clean water to those in need. “A Pinch of Color stands for beauty with a cause, and our business platform puts planet before profit.”
Providing resources, inspiration and optimism to an underserved community also drove Jennifer McKay Newton to found DefineMe, a line of cruelty-free, vegan fragrances designed to empower and nourish women. The company’s co-mission revolves around their DefineMe Dollar Program, which partners with She’s The First to fight gender inequality by supporting girls in low-income countries who are the first in their families to graduate from high school. In striving to consider every opportunity to link product to a greater purpose, DefineMe creates and defines each fragrance as a part of a solution to the pressing challenge of education, from scent to intent.
“Recent studies reveal that the impact of helping to educate women in developing countries goes well beyond empowering them,” said Newton. “It is also one of the top five ways to make our planet more sustainable. Our mission includes the goal of sharing in communities and showing women that they are entitled to an education and life choices it can provide.”
Female entrepreneurs like Conte, Treska, and Newton represent a new wave of indie companies embracing corporate social responsibility and setting a higher standard for corporate America. They view their companies as the vehicle that makes a mission possible, ignoring conventional corporate methods to create brands that give while growing. Leading by example, Conscious Coconut, A Pinch of Color, and DefineMe are business role models that inspire, transform, and redefine corporate culture, pioneering the way for leaders to embrace the unchartered path of a responsible business movement.
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