Want to Be Featured in the Ethical EcoBiz Toolkit?


The Ethical EcoBiz Toolkit

Calling All Eco Entrepreneurs, Social Entrepreneurs, Sustainability Consultants, Green Businesses Owners

Do you want to help me co-create the Ethical EcoBiz Toolkit? Not only will you get a chance to be featured in my upcoming book, you’ll get a chance to be featured in the Entrepreneurs for a Change podcast, which is awesome publicity.

More importantly, your story will serve to inspire thousands of aspiring social entrepreneurs. The Ethical EcoBiz Toolkit will be released with the launch of the Green Business Entrepreneurs Success Summit, this Earth Week 2012 – that is April 16-20, 2012.

I am looking for YOUR personal stories that illustrate the challenges and success of social entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurs with the BEST stories will be featured on in our podcast, and highlighted in our Green Business Entrepreneurs Success Summit.

Here’s What You Need to Do

  1. Share a story that fits into one of the 4 categories below in the comments section of this post. You will get an awesome DOFOLLOW link to your website just for taking the time.
  2. Sign up to our private Ethical EcoBiz Co-Creators Email list using the form BELOW – this will help me stay on top of my conversations with the group.

Join the Ethical EcoBiz Co-Creator's Group!

Here’s What You’ll Get

  • You & your company will be featured in a highlighted section in the book
  • You get to pre-order the Ethical EcoBiz Toolkit at a rock bottom discount – if you want
  • If decide you purchase the Ethical EcoBiz Toolkit, you get free upgrades to the product, FOREVER

If your story is really compelling & you are invited to the podcast, you’ll get:

  • An audio MP3 of the interview
  • A slideshow video, using photos & screen captures of your website
  • 2 blog posts with links of your choice, one from Green Marketing TV & one from Entrepreneurs for a Change
  • Social media promotion of the blog posts – great free publicity
  • Inclusion in the Ethical EcoBiz Toolkit in a highlighted section in the book or as an audio download OR
  • Inclusion in the Telesummit as speaker or in the bonus package
  • You get to pre-order the Ethical EcoBiz Toolkit at a rock bottom discount – if you want
  • If decide you purchase the Ethical EcoBiz Toolkit, you get free upgrades to the product, FOREVER

All just for sharing your story.

Here Are The Stories We Are Looking For

Please post your stories in the comments section of this post. DO NOT submit your story by email as this is too much for me to manage. Take advantage of our DOFOLLOW commenting system and get an awesome backlink.

1. Inspiration.

We want hear about your life changing moments that erased all doubt from your mind that you were meant to be a social entrepreneur.

My favorite story in this category is the story of Jacqueline Novogratz, who started the Acumen Fund, a nonprofit social venture fund that invests in companies that use entrepreneurial approaches to solving global poverty. When she was young, she traveled to Rwanda, where she started a microfinance organization. There, she was driving along when she spotted a small boy wearing a sweater that she recognized as her own – her favorite sweater as a child, which she’d given to Goodwill many years earlier. When she ran out of the car and checked the interior label on the back of the sweater, it still had her name on it.

For Novogratz, the blue sweater served as a symbol and reminder of the interconnectedness of all humanity.

What’s your story?

2. Failure.

The most successful entrepreneurs have failed over and over again. My favorite quote about failure comes from Michael Jordan:

“I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. Twenty-six times I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”

My favorite social entrepreneur failure story was the story of mountaineer Greg Mortenson, author of 3 Cups of Tea and co-founder of Central Asia Institute, a nonprofit that has built 171 schools in the remote regions of Pakistan and Afghanistan, a region where few education opportunities existed. In 1993, Mortenson attempted to climb K2, the world’s second highest mountain. After over 70 days on the mountain, Mortenson and 3 other climbers had their ascent interrupted by the need to rescue another climber. After this 75 hour ordeal, Mortenson gets lost on his descent from K2 and arrives, alone, weak, and exhausted, not in Askole, where the porters awaited, but in the village of Korphe. He was taken in by the villagers, treated as an honored guest, and nurtured back to health. In order to repay the remote community for their hospitality, he promised to build them a school. Thus, in failing to climb K2, Mortenson discovered his life purpose – to bring a balanced, modern education to rural Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Do you have a story of an endeavor, project or business venture that went down in flames, only so that you would rise like a phoenix from the ashes?

3. Mentorship.

Successful entrepreneurs almost never succeed alone. Most have had at least ONE mentor steer guide them in their entrepreneurial journey. Sometimes these are long lasting relationships, other times, these may be brief, but memorable encounters. Is there anyone you would like to honor as having impacted your life purpose in a meaningful way?

4. Success.

Success comes in all forms. I was at the Hub SoMa, for an evening talk featuring different social entrepreneurs. Premal Shah, of Kiva, a nonprofit that enables microloans to entrepreneurs through peer-to-peer lending spoke of the day their web traffic “hockey sticked.” That is to say, after nearly a year and a half of low, steady traffic, suddenly, visitor traffic shot through the roof. Kiva has now enabled over $281M in loans with a 98.88% repayment rate.

Please share with some of your most amazing breakthrough moments.

AGAIN – Here’s What You Need to Do

  1. Sign up to our private Ethical EcoBiz Co-Creators Email list using the form BELOW – this will help me stay on top of my conversations with the group.
  2. Share a story that fits into one of the 4 categories below in the comments section of this post. You will get an awesome DOFOLLOW link to your website just for taking the time.

Join the Ethical EcoBiz Co-Creator's Group!

Thanks for collaborating!

This post was written by:

Lorna Li

Lorna Li is a social media and green marketing expert. She enjoys helping green businesses and nonprofits with bootstrap marketing, as well as helping job seekers leverage social media for personal branding.


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The Green Business Entrepreneurs Success Summit

Dear Readers,

You are invited to the Green Business Entrepreneurs Success Summit - a virtual, week long, alternative Green MBA designed to take you through the stages of green entrepreneurship, while providing you with practical strategies, tactics, and tools to succeed.

Whether you are an aspiring green entrepreneur or have a sustainable business you want to take to the next level, you will get valuable information just by attending this event series.

You'll discover how these fascinating people came up with brilliant ideas, and against all odds, succeeded at creating successful sustainable businesses and social enterprises that are transforming the world.

Click Here to Attend this FREE Event

Comments

  1. Andrew Sell says:

    Success:
    For me and for Hipcycle, defining success now is really just the gut feeling that we are tracking in the right direction and doing work that has a higher purpose. After years of being in the corporate world and merely thinking about socially responsible business, I finally made the leap and became an entrepreneur for the first time. Our website is up, we are selling awesome upcycled products, we are building a brand and a community, we are getting great press and online exposure, and most importantly, we are playing a part in diverting waste from landfills. We’re not profitable yet, but what we are doing feels good and is fulfilling in ways that my career had not been before. For me, on one level, that is success.

  2. Lorna Li says:

    Congratulations @Andrew!

    Making the entrepreneurial leap takes a huge leap of fate. Many people are unable to do just this, either because of finances or fear. I believe, at a certain point, you have to follow your passion – especially if your soul demands it. It’s important to look back on life, without a single regret.

    Thank you for sharing!

    Cheers,

    Lorna

  3. Joe Miller says:

    Reading the story of Greg Mortenson’s failed K2 attempt reminds me of the beginning of my journey to create my social enterprise, Print a Forest. After graduating from college I went trekking through the Indian Himalayas. Traveled by foot through the Marka Valley with a final accent of Stok Kongri (from the top you could see K2). Walking in the Markha Valley you travel through amazing subsistence farming communities growing barely. These farmers have lived in the valley for thousands of years unchanged by the outside world. They have created fantastically complex irrigation channels by redirecting the streams of glacial runoff that flow through the valley to water their crops. It is breath taking to witness these fields of flowing barley highlighted with the yellow flower of the mustard plants contrasted by the bleak mountains that surround.

    These farmers way of life is in grave danger. The high altitude of the region causes it to have little or no rain, and their food supply is strictly dependent on the glacial runoff from the mountain tops irrigating their crops. These glaciers have been shrinking at an alarming rate. The locals have seen them shrink to a quarter of their original size in the last 50 years, with the change accelerating.

    Its painful to see that the ones who have contributed the least to our changing global environment will be the ones who suffer most. While those in the developed world will simply turn their air conditioning up a notch or two, entire ways of life, and communities will vanish from existence.

    This experience was a driving factor that lead me to forgo the usual career path and dedicate my life to the development of Print a Forest. Print a Forest transforms our user printer into a tree planting machine. Print 100 Pages. Plant a Tree. All it takes is downloading the easy-to-use software and allowing a brand to sponsor the pages you print with a small message across the footer of the page. Little messages, plant big trees. Our reforestation partners plant a tree for every 100 pages our users print. As a virtual printer, the user opts in by selecting Print a Forest as their printer when printing from any application.

    Print 100 page. Plant a tree. Planting climate change fighting trees with a couple clicks of a mouse. If you must print, why not Print a Forest.

    Joe Miller

  4. Success:
    I’ve been making eco body and home aroma-therapeutic with my grandmother since I was a little girl. Everything I create is from my family’s century old African American Chickasaw Indian recipes. I grew up with my grandmother’s philosophy, “Nature isn’t complicated. It just is. To make what you put on your skin and scent your home shouldn’t be a complex formula needing a chemist and a lab to create”.

    Your article on eco-friendly candles from Sept 2010 is what got the ball rolling for me and my company Wild Beauty. I started researching and knew bamboo candles was the way to go. That’s right candles from bamboo are eco friendly and stay true to my African American and Chickasaw Indian ancestry, where everything is connected with nature and works together.

    Nature makes an awesome candle holder. Bamboo is considered a renewable resource. It’s root system is continually sprouting new growth and new shoots. This continuous sprouting makes replanting after harvesting the grass unnecessary. It holds up against heat very well and strong. Doesn’t break easily. Because we use soy wax which can be cleaned up with soap and water. The candles can be reused. People can put their spare change, car keys, jewelry, pens and more in them.

    Sorry for the long story, just passionate about what I do. I’m happy to have a thriving business and still be able to stay true to my family’s ancestry and teachings.

  5. Lorna Li says:

    @Joe,

    That’s such a creative idea – I love it. Print 100 Pages. Plant a Tree.

    It’s so tree that the people who have contributed the least to climate change are the ones who suffer the most. I just spent 5 months in the Brazilian Amazon and the situation is the same with the Indians. You’d think there is a lot of water in the Amazon, but clean drinking water is scarce. Few have rain water catchment systems. The major rivers are polluted, and the Indians keep drinking out of it, because there’s no other choice, especially during the dry season when some of the springs and creeks dry up. Parasites are a problem.

    Thanks so much for your story, I felt like I was there. You’ve inspired me to go there one day!

  6. Lorna Li says:

    That’s awesome Felicia, thank you. I completely agree. When I discovered all the chemicals that go into the most expensive perfume brands on the market, I was astounded that people would spend so much money to buy that stuff. I have only used essential oils since.

    Your product sounds wonderful, natural, and biodegradable. I’m so glad your livelihood is also a way to honor your ancestral lineage every day. This is truly beautiful.

  7. Hans Chung says:

    Mentorship:
    Not everyone has the freedom to start their own business. Some of commitments that they must address first, but they still find time to offer their knowledge and guidance to social ventures that they care about. For Mokugift, it was Steven Mih. He was quite busy working at a startup in business development. However, he made the time to structure our partnership development processes and to teach us tactical details. Steven believed in our mission and he saw that Mokugift’s growth would come through partnerships and that a disciplined approach would ensure that we went about this in an efficient and sensible manner. When you have people like this supporting you, it keeps you motivated.

  8. Lorna Li says:

    @hans How did you find such an awesome mentor as Steven? A lot of my readers really want to know where they can find good mentors to help them grow their businesses. Do you have any advice?

    What do you think motivated to spend so much time helping you guys out in such a busy, busy world?

  9. How Sharemore came to be: I don’t remember exactly when I encountered Freecycle, but it was definitely love at first sight. As with any new romance, I was excited but cautious at first, requesting small fry like Pokemon cards for my son, cardboard boxes for sheet mulching, a French press coffee maker. To my delight, nine times out of ten, a fellow Freecyler responded to my request — I had what I needed without spending a dime or spewing an ounce of carbon into the atmosphere.

    Emboldened, I began requesting–and receiving–bigger ticket items — a rolling table that helped me immeasurably when I was on crutches after hip surgery, a VCR (remember those?), a bar stool. One freecycler from Pinole delivered to my doorstep her son’s entire outgrown Yu-gi-oh card collection (if you don’t have kids, trust me, that’s a score!) and, just to be extra nice, brought along a bag of pears from her backyard tree.

    It’s been a few years now, and my freecycling love affair is still just as hot as it was in the early days. I’d like to think I’ve given as good as I’ve got: a TV, kids’ snow gear, a cell phone, computer accessories. You’ll find an item waiting for pick-up on my front porch on just about any given day of the week. It’s easier to freecycle an item than to bring it to Goodwill or find some other home for it and I’d usually rather forego the few dollars I might make selling it on Craigslist for the sheer convenience and good karma of Freecycle transactions.

    I’m in love with Craigslist too — it’s my backup friend-with-benefits whenever Freecycle doesn’t come through. But what happens when I can’t find what I want through either Freecycle or Craigslist or eBay or any of the other 300+ reuse websites. I can’t search them all, but it pains me to buy something new when I know what I want is out there…somewhere. What’s an eco-freak to do?

    Hence was Sharemore conceived. Sharemore is a search engine aggregator that searches the universe of reuse sites so that, with a single click, I’ll be able to find what I’m looking for. So will you — although I’m building Sharemore for my own personal convenience, I’m going to let everyone use it. To carry my opening metaphor to its crass extreme, Sharemore will be an orgy of online sharing — that probably won’t be our slogan and I haven’t registered Sharemore as a XXX domain. But you can still show Sharemore some love by “liking” our Facebook page (facebook.com/sharemore1).

  10. Lorna Li says:

    @Erica What an awesome idea! I love search engine aggregators and find Craigslist to be absolutely frustrating as a seller – I’ve spent hours / days / weeks trying to list items for sale only to find them ghosted for some inexplicable reason. There is no customer service. A huge population of CL users hates CL, but it’s really the one community platform for buying / selling / donating stuff.

    If you can also figure out a way to create Craigslist alternative in your efforts with Sharemore, hats off to you.

  11. Tina Gainey says:

    Success through Failure:

    Hi, I am Tina Gainey, the owner of Greenway Saves – a conservation innovation consulting company – and my story is one of success through failure.

    As a minority female small business owner, there are so many obstacles to overcome. It may be relatively easy to get yourself established as an entity in all the right listings – but securing contracts is another story.

    My competitors have more connections and established relationships with financial leaders from their past businesses. I started Greenway Saves on a shoestring, and though it’s a struggle and my company is still in the red, the issue of supporting a healthier environment through reduced resource consumption and smart green practices in our homes, businesses, and schools is too important to let go. That’s why I continue to build up my education in these areas so that I can not only offer more expert services, but share free information and advice to everyone I can reach through personal contact, http://www.GreenwaySaves.com, social media outlets, and my Chamber of Commerce meetings and publications.

    Most people equate success with the amount of money you make – and that if you’re not profitable, you have failed. To me, it depends upon what you view as a TRUE success – and your overall impact on those around you. Regardless of the profitability of Greenway Saves, the ability to educate others on how to better support their families and networks with cleaner air and water while also reducing their overall costs to me is priceless – and consequently an ultimate success.

  12. Lorna Li says:

    @Tina So true! There are so many different ways to define success. If income is your only metric, then your experience in entrepreneurship is indeed limited.

  13. @Tina I totally agree that profit is only one metric, kinda like GDP is only one economic metric and it leaves out so many other positive, productive, healthy things that happen in local economies. If you aren’t aware of it yet, check out Annie Leonard (Story of Stuff) on ABC’c new reality show, Revolution — you should be on that show! http://www.storyofstuff.org/2012/01/27/karla/

  14. Zach Cohen says:

    Success:

    I’ve spent the last 3 years working as an accountant for Larkin Street Youth Services, a nonprofit that serves homeless and at-risk youth. I became aware of the great need for business partners that offer youth in transition a supportive but real-life work environment that understands their unique needs and helps them build the skills and confidence to succeed. I also spent a lot of time volunteering in various Bay Area community bike nonprofits and observed a need for a larger scale, comprehensive model that combined the greatest strengths of the services various organizations were offering in piecemeal.

    I developed a vision for a nonprofit bike shop that combined extensive and innovative community bicycle education services that served the community and addressed diverse social problems while providing a vibrant business in which disadvantaged youth could learn life skills and gain valuable business experience.

    Immediately upon commiting myself to this vision, everything I needed to fulfill it just fell into my lap. Eight qualified candidates from bike industry, youth service, development, mechanical, and communications backgrounds eagerly joined the board of directors. We secured a small but viable workshop space in the heart of bike-friendly South Berkeley and opened it Jan 8th. The relative of a deceased local bike collector happened to learn of our existence and donated $7,500 worth of his used bike parts to fuel our low-cost community repair. City officials and local youth service organizations also took immediate notice of us and have reached out to collaborate. All of this took place in 2 months!

    We’re now growing rapidly and well on our way to success.

  15. Lorna Li says:

    @zach That’s beautiful. I have to say, when you see that much synchronicity appear, it’s truly the power of intention and the law of attraction in play. There’s people I know who seem to attract opportunities and goodness daily, and I believe it has to do a lot with your inner alchemy. If you operate from a place of love, and gratitude, the Universe will conspire to help you.

  16. Zach Cohen says:

    Hey Lorna!

    Thanks for the encouragement! It is crazy when that much synchronicity appears.

    It was compounded even further the very evening after I wrote that comment. We attracted 3 skilled grant writers very early on in our formation, but there’s nothing for them to do until our 501c3 process is completed. The paperwork is languishing in bureacracy right now, so we were hoping to find an interim fiscal sponsor. The reputable ones we looked into only sponsor orgs that already have $20-200k of funding, which puts you in a bit of a catch-22.

    Thursday night I met with an Oakland socially oriented law firm as a prospective client for my side business doing accounting consulting for nonprofits and social enterprises, and it turned out that they have a small foundation they operate to fiscally sponsor their friend’s nonprofit projects. It looks like we’ll be able to work with them and get 501c3 status in the very near future!

  17. Lorna Li says:

    @Zach ROCK ON!

  18. Tina Gainey says:

    @Erica, It’s so great that we can all share our knowledge to help others find ways to go green. On my web site, http://www.GreenwaySaves.com, I offer tips, quotes, facts, and a blog where people can get new green ideas. I also send out social media messages every week to growing lists of followers.

    True, it’s not something that earns me money, but the green initiative is so important. Plus, I believe that when you give someone something of value for free, it helps to inspire trust when it comes time to spend, and they’ll remember you.

  19. In November 1999, a developer announced a plan to desecrate ridgetop land abutting a state park by building 40 trophy homes two miles from my house. The original newspaper article interviewed several local conservationists who expressed variations on “Oh, this is terrible, but there’s nothing we can do.”

    That’s when I got mad. I drew up a petition, posted a Web page, called a meeting for two weeks later, and sent out press releases and fliers about the formation of Save the Mountain. I figured it would take five years to defeat this monstrosity.

    We expected 20 or so people to come to the first meeting; over 70 attended. From that day until December 2000, our group fought the project on every conceivable level: technical issues like hydrology, rare species, and slope of the road…organizing and marketing components including a petition drive (over 3000 signed), turnout of up to 450 at various public hearings, lawn signs, tabling, a big press campaign with over 70 articles…working with the state Department of Environmental Management to investigate options for saving the land…

    As a group, STM had about 35 core activists, all working on many levels, both public and private. The persuasion in this case was not about the desirability of stopping the project; we had community-wide near-consensus on that. Rather, we focused on the ability of a committed group of people to make a difference even when the experts said it was impossible.

    Within two months, STM had established ourselves firmly in the public eye-and had actually shifted the discourse from “There’s nothing you can do” to “Which strategies will be most effective?” Collectively, the group used its powers of persuasion, and its skills at reaching the public with this message, to change the project from inevitable to impossible. The land was permanently preserved in just 13 months.
    (Adapted from my eighth book, Guerrilla Marketing Goes Green: Winning Strategies to Improve Your Profits and Your Planet by Jay Conrad Levinson and Shel Horowitz, http://guerrillamarketinggoesgreen.com )

  20. Shera Sever says:

    Rising from the Ashes . .

    I have not failed.. just discovered 10,000 ways that don’t work. Thomas Edison, Social Entrenpreuer, Inventor, Madman

    I come from a humble, working class family of southern/eastern European immigrants and grew up in the heartland in a small semi-rural town in northern Illinois. I started my first business at age 13 out of necessity, along with the burning desire to perform in Europe with the symphonic orchestra I had auditioned for. I built a team of 6-10 sales associates, exceeded my financial goal, along with many other goals. Had I stayed in that town as an adult, I believe I would have been elected mayor.

    So, I learned very early in life: Small Business Development 101.

    The basics:
    • Have customers who love and TRUST you
    • Deliver more than you promise
    • Have an innate desire to serve
    • Provide Solutions-Solve Problems
    • Have a vision, goals and a strategic plan
    • Build a scalable business model
    • You’ve gotta have a team (and an honest accountant)
    • Build a scalable business model
    • Work smarter, not harder
    • Remember: There are no short cuts.
    • Stay open to change and new ideas : Happy are the flexible for they shall not be bent out of shape.

    So why am I contributing to this post under the category of failure?

    Because I didn’t follow my own formula. I was on a free flow without a solid strategy and undernourished relationships. 2009 was my wake up call- I mean ALARM. I lost everything.

    And I do believe that by the time we reach the 2nd half of life, as I have, that none of us come around unscathed. Those scars appear as a ripe inner ecology-humility, resilience, courage, deep desire to serve, and unshakeable confidence and trust in self- all essential for social entrepreneurial leadership.

    The result .. .I am rebuilding my life and next business: Igniting the Spark Business and Career Consulting- helping other social entrepreneurs with systems, strategy, relationship marketing, social media, and client fulfillment. And this business plan includes a team.

  21. Lorna Li says:

    @Shera What an awesome story. I definitely believe that entrepreneurs, even solopreneurs need a team, because a team not only helps you break out of the myopic, tunnel vision that solopreneurs can have, simply by being a sounding board for ideas, it allows you to focus on what you do best and delegate out to others tasks that they do best.

    Teams will cost more money, but I believe it’s worth the investment. I recommend a hybrid team of offshore contractors and national contractors. Offshore contractors can handle nonstrategic tasks, like web research, and anything cut and paste heavy. They can work for $1-$5 an hour, which is a great wage where they are located. “Western mindset” contractors are extremely valuable in that they understand Western business culture, web etiquette, and creative decision0making. They get the job without the excessive need to explain every minute detail that the offshore contractors require.

    Don’t forget to sign up for our Ethical Ecobiz Co-Creators email list, to stay informed of next steps.

    I’ve been a bit silent lately as I am working around the clock on the Green Business Entrepreneurs Success Summit http://greenbusinessentrepreneurs.com/ . However, I will be circling back with the group very soon!

  22. I have been selling Art Eco handmade gifts in my online stores for over a decade, coming to the business from the artistic side. A second-generation artist, I started freelancing my own work at age 14 when my first article for Seventeen magazine was published. In college my craft works, sold in NYC stores, were written up in the NYT and New Yorker.

    After college I became a professional needlepoint designer. In 1999 I had an intuition that recycled materials were the wave of the future and started www. Eco-Artware.com. Back then, plastic products were good and “trash” was a dirty word. i thought eco-conscious design would become mainstream, but didn’t have a clue how it would happen, or when. When we opened Eco-Artware, we included an illustrated newsletter on site, to provide context for the products–the first newsletter on this topic.

    The “green” movement is growing. In 2011 I listened to a hunch again, and started a sister business, http://www.EarthFriendlyCorporateGifts.com to supply “green” gifts and awards for the increasing number of businesses adopting eco-conscious practices.

  23. Success:

    After spending 4 years in college studying Criminology & Law (in Ottawa, Ontario) I realized that it just wasn’t for me because I wasn’t passionate about it.

    That’s when I decided to go back to school and take a 2 year event planning program (in Montreal, Quebec). I always had a passion for event planning because I loved to organize things. The program was everything I hoped it would be and more.

    At the end of my program I had to complete an internship. I interned at a non-profit organization called Daily Acts (in Petaluma). It was the first time I had been exposed to so many eco-related things! I spent the summer connecting with people who were doing amazing things to help make the planet a better place to live and I was totally inspired.

    I went back home to Montreal and worked for the biggest event planning company in Canada. 6 months later I ended up moving to the SF Bay Area. With no formal business training I started my own event planning company. 3 months after that I received my green business certification and discovered that I was the first event planner in the bay area to receive the certification!

    I have been producing a number of eco and vegan events that have never been done before such as a vegan fashion show, vegan earth day event, veg speed dating events, and more. I have been in business for 3 years now and I still love what I do. I wake up every morning excited and full of ideas for new projects to work on.

  24. Lorna Li says:

    Hi Karine,

    What a leap of faith that was! Congratulations. Many of our readers want to take the plunge and worry about the uncertainty have having enough income to pay the bills. How do you find your clients? Do you have any words of advice on what marketing channels work for you? Social media?

  25. Lorna Li says:

    Hi Reena,

    I know Eco Artware well. I remember when I first started blogging on Green Marketing TV, I ran across your site and the terrific recycled gifts you have.

    How do you market your business? What works for you? Do you think social media is more of a value add or a time waster for a small business?

  26. @Lorna Yes it was a huge leap of faith to go from a full-time job with full benefits to the uncertainty that comes along with being an entrepreneur! I work WAY more hours than I ever have in any of my other jobs.

    I have a really strong online presence and try to get my name out there as much as possible. I do a lot of networking and I always meet awesome people through the events I produce.

    The biggest tip I can offer is to not give up, and keep reaching for your dreams.

  27. Inspiration:

    In the midst of a vacation to Thailand, Joe Demin’s life was turned upside-down when he discovered an epic story that led him away from the corporate climb and into the heart-pumping, white-knuckled and infinitely rewarding world of social entrepreneurism. On a remote island in the Andaman Sea, he took a ride on a scooter, took a break in a hammock and asked a few questions of a shopkeeper that changed his life.

    While his friends relaxed on the beach in Koh Lanta, Joe rented a scooter and zipped through the jungle to explore the other side of the island. He spied a colorful hammock hanging outside a stilted hut and, as a lifelong hammock connoisseur, jumped right in. It was love at first swing- he’d never lain in a hammock so soft and comfortable. It was like laying weightless in a cloud.

    Joe peppered the shop owner with questions: where had his hammock come from? How was it made? She told him it had been woven by artisans from the Mlabri Tribe in northern Thailand, people who had lost their homes & livelihood to environmental destruction decades ago and for whom hammock weaving was a new initiative, a last-ditch attempt to generate income and provide security for the few remaining members of the tribe.

    He was struck by the fact that he’d fallen in love with his hammock even before he knew the amazing story behind it. Here in America, it’s common to be urged to buy traditional crafts or fair trade products, but this was the first time he’d seen the opportunity to share a product that not only had a social impact, but was also stylish, useful and inarguably superior to comparable products on the U.S. market.

    As Joe pondered the luxuriousness of his hammock & contrasted it with the tale of the beleaguered Thai hill tribe, he knew this idea could change the world. He changed his itinerary to fly north and cajoled a cabby into driving him 600 miles to reach the Mlabri Village and spend a single day among the tribe. Joe saw the changes that had already been achieved through the income from weaving- children playing outside a school instead of toiling in slash & burn fields- and learned about the regional waiting list for weaving work, filled with people desperate to create a better life for their families and their communities. He watched Mlabri children playing joyously in the dirt and heard about the dim future prospects of these bright-eyed kids.

    He emerged from the village determined to spark a hammocking revolution. Joe arrived back in the U.S. with his first business plan scribbled on an airplane barf bag and a backpack stuffed full of hammocks. A few months later, he left his job in corporate real estate and became the “Chief Relaxation Officer” of Yellow Leaf Hammocks- although he hasn’t gotten much rest since then!

  28. Lorna Li says:

    @Rachel This is an amazing story – I love it. I feel like I was there with him. I love the hill tribes of Thailand and Southwest China, and it’s so nice to see traditional artisans create a products that are not perceived as “charity buys”.

    I am a hammock connoisseur myself because I have traveled extensively in the Amazon rainforest visiting indigenous tribes since 2004. Tent camping doesn’t really work in the rainy, moist jungle, where ants will easily chew through nylon if you’ve mistakenly pitched your tent across their trail. Since they only come out at certain times, it’s an easy mistake to make. There is nothing better than one that is soft, lightweight and comfortable for jungle travel. In the Amazon, you must carry a hammock if you are traveling long distances and being sheltered in hostels and homes – where there is always a place to hang a hammock. Your personal hammock is more sanitary option than a shared bed (with bedbugs!).

  29. @Rachel – Id love to build my May Green And Profitable column around your entry (April’s is already written), because I’ve been wanting an example I *didn’t* write of telling “the story behind the story” in green marketing. (You can see some sample columns at http://greenandprofitable.com/green-and-profitable-column/ – it’s syndicated to markets on three continents.)

    I also might want to use it as an example in future books. Can you please send me a permission note off-list: shel AT greenandprofitable.com

    And a shoutout to @Reena, who has been a client every now and then for quite a few years. Reena, one of the most powerful green messages is that you’ve been at it a long time, before it was trendy. I think 199 counts :-).

  30. Lorna,

    Thanks for the great questions. I look forward to hearing what others have to say.

    As far as I know, most clients find us through google and bing. Word of mouth. Our products are sometimes featured in print and online magazines. Sometimes the products catch on and sometimes they do not. One year something may be ignored in X magazine and the next year, they might feature something else and we’ll sell a bunch. Go figure.

    I don’t know how much social media helps. A person who has been at this for 12 years and reads a lot said nobody is sure whether it helps small businesses like mine. We participate in FB, twitter and LinkedIn to be at the party, help get our name “out there,” raise public consciousness about the increasing number of strong eco choices, and learn about other like-minded people. So, there are benes to the effort. At this point I cannot point to specific $$$ gains–but maybe clients met us in social media, visited, and shopped. And it is work, but fun too. Now I’m smitten with Pinterest, too.

    Shel, I frankly never thought of pointing out the fact that we started in 1999. I can see where businesses pointing to dates if they’ve been at the same stand for 50 years. But in this fast paced online world, maybe it something the note. We’re always scrambling to keep up with technology. So far the site fits on iPads but not the iPhone. Haven’t figured out what, if anything we should do about that. Any thoughts?

  31. Wow, amazing discussion over here! @Lorna I knew that hammocks were popular down there, but I had no idea about those aggressive ants! Sounds like stringing up a hammock is even better for your health than I knew! @Shel, that sounds exciting- I will shoot you a message as soon as I can!

  32. Andrews, South Carolina was once known as the “T-Shirt Capital of the United States.” For a long time, the small town — also hometown to comedian Chris Rock and musician Chubby Checker — was booming with business and employment in the manufacturing industry. Unfortunately, around 2001 the town lost hundreds of manufacturing jobs when these positions began being outsourced overseas. Andrews eventually became an economically-desolate town with very few manufacturing jobs available.

    When we decided to start Bamboosa, we knew we wanted to involve local workers to help revamp the Andrews economy and community. We began producing the first USA-made bamboo fabric and clothing in 2004, manufacturing out of a small sewing plant filled with dusty sewing machines and employing third-generation sewing machine operators. The women who work for us are excited to be sewing again and doing something they love, and take great pride in their work. They create beautiful pieces of clothing and baby goods and help add creative and personal touches to our products.

    Our clothing line is simple, comfortable and high-quality and includes includes tees, skirts, tops and pants. Currently, we have more than 200 wholesale accounts in the U.S. and Canada. Stores that carry our products typically include baby stores, green or eco-friendly stores, yoga studios, Made-in-the-USA stores and gift shops.

    We always envisioned that when we had our own company we would make sweatshop-free, competitively-priced, American-made apparel and baby products that are a better choice for the environment. We also said we would do it responsibly and as good corporate citizens. We do, we are and here is how:

    • Fiber from Organically Grown Bamboo – All of our clothing and baby products are made from 100% viscose fiber produced from certified organically grown bamboo or blended with cotton, organic cotton, Lycra or recycled polyester. Our fiber contributes to the quality, performance, comfort and durability of our apparel. To see our organic certifications, click here.

    • Yarn – Sometimes, new technology is not the best technology. Up until the early 1970s the manufacturing of yarn (spinning) was done on ring spinning equipment. This process makes a yarn that produces a very soft fabric and is used in some of the finest knits. However, because it is a slower process, it is more costly. So, in an effort to increase plant efficiencies (read: profits), open end spinning was developed. While spinning open end yarn is highly efficient, the end product is not so soft. That is why we have chosen to use only ring spun yarns for our products.

    • Knitting – We use the highest needle count machines available for our knitting. Why? To oversimplify, the more needles in the knitting machine, the better the fabric. Generally, more needles = smaller diameter yarns = more threads per inch = better fabric and less shrinkage.

    • Dyeing – We have eliminated the use of chlorine in our bleaching or pre-bleaching process. Using chlorine releases dioxins, which are known carcinogens, into the air. When dyeing our fabrics, we do not use any banned AZO dyestuffs in our fiber reactive dyes. Our dyes consume less water and less energy and generate less waste, and therefore have a lower impact than non fiber reactive dyes. Also, because our fabric accepts and holds dye well, we do not use any dye-fixing agents, which often contain heavy metals and formaldehyde.

  33. INSPIRATION:
    My lifelong dream, for as long as I can remember, has been to open my own business. I always gravitated toward natural products, but didn’t really know why. My “eureka” moment came in college in my Textile Science class. The professor mentioned organic cotton. I had no idea how polluting growing conventional cotton was or how horrible the textiles and clothing industry is for the environment. When my professor mentioned organic cotton I decided to go off on my own and start researching. I was blown away by what I found. Organic fibers led to sustainable dyes, then to fair trade, recycled accessories, natural skincare, and on, and on… I realized that there was no place where I could go and buy these environmentally sustainable products and immediately knew that this is what I was meant to do. I had to open a store where a customer could feel good about what they bought. They wouldn’t have to worry about where an item was made, if the person who made it was treated well. They wouldn’t have to worry about analyzing the ingredients list on a skincare product. When you walked in the door you knew that everything was eco-friendly, organic, and/or fair trade.

    This dream became a reality one year after graduating from college, at the age of 23. I opened Green Envy Eco-Boutique in Newport, RI.

    SUCCESS:
    After 4 years in business we have many loyal customers and business is growing every year. Green Envy Eco-Boutique has won 7 awards at the city, state, and national level. Last week I traveled to North Carolina to accept the AATCC’s award for Young Entrepreneur of 2012. I am so humbled by all of the recognition and incredibly grateful. It makes me realize that people are catching on and understand that we need to make a change and live more sustainably and support disadvantaged people in the USA as well as in developing countries.

    MENTOR:
    When I opened Green Envy Eco-Boutique I was literally fresh out of college. I majored in Textile Merchandising and Design with a Business minor at the University of Rhode Island. My education definitely helped me, but I had little to no real world experience. I met Janice Lesniak, who has owned Janeeska, a women’s clothing & accessories boutique for many years. She gave me the most valuble advice and I know she will be there for me if I have any questions. Her knowledge of the retail world is priceless, and her kindness in sharing tips and tricks with me was heartwarming.

    Because I know how valuable a mentor can be – I take on one or two interns every summer from the same college I graduated from. Over 12 weeks I teach them about everything from opening a business to advertising, buying merchandise to payroll. At the end of the internship I take the intern(s) to a trade show and allow them to buy directly from a vendor so they can utilize what they have learned. I also speak at local universities and organizations about opening a business and sustainable business. I will always make myself available to anyone looking for advice or guidance. I still learn new things every day, but I want to share everything I know with others who may benefit from it. We need more small, independently owned, and “green” businesses.

  34. Lorna Li says:

    @Rachel I am so impressed by your success! I agree, mentorship is so important and finding the right mentors is one of the biggest challenges that our entrepreneurial readers have. It’s often difficult for people to find mentors if they don’t live in urban centers, where there are a lot of networking opportunities available. Even if you can find someone who has knowledge to help your business, it’s often difficult to receive sustained, ongoing advice from them without wearing out the relationships. So you were really luck to a mentor who was so generous with her time.

    I often recommend that entrepreneurs who are serious about success to invest hiring a business coach or consultant, if they can’t find a generous mentor for free. During your entrepreneurial journey did you ever hire professional mentors to help you grow your business?

    Thank you for giving back!

  35. No, I have never hired a business coach or consultant. But that is something I would definitely think about. I have known a couple of my wholesalers to hire a business coach and have a greatly improved profit margin because of it.

  36. Lorna Li says:

    @mindy I love your your business mission includes revitalizing your local economy. What challenges do you have with staying competitive in a market that is saturated with lower cost products sourced overseas?

  37. @Reena,

    Often when I’m being interviewed, a cite a recycled household paper products company that as very early in the game, and after saying they were early, I ask the interviewer to guess the year. The majority guess between 1995-2000. (The correct answer happens to be 1950). So yes, I think 1999 gives you some provenance–it’s before green really went mainstream, which I’d put at 2005 or 2006. Certainly well after I wrote Principled Profit and well before I wrote Guerrilla Marketing Goes Green.

    The social media question would take a very long answer–the short version is that there are right and wrong ways to do it. You’ve been a client in the past–if you want to schedule a 30 or 60-minute social media strategy session, you may find value in it at a fairly low cost.

  38. @Reena, unfortunately, I can’t help you display your site on an iPhone–but if you google “mobile website designers,” I bet you’ll find plenty who can.

    @Rachel, I’ll look forward to receiving it.

  39. Shel,

    Thanks. Including the date is something to consider in future branding.

    Sorry, I was not clear. I have a wonderful webmaster. Websites will need to be seen on smaller screens. Ours can be seen on iPads. It does not show up on an iPhone size screen. Because my site was constructed a while ago, it would be a big deal.to redo it. I don’t know that people will shop on small screens and at the moment I’m not worried about it.

    I can see that people might shop at Drugstore.com or Amazon for straightforward purchases. But wouldn’t they want to see larger images of our Art Eco designs, and read more about them on larger screens. Is that a fair assumption?

  40. Reena,

    Yes, people will be looking at your site on mobile devices, and some of them might want to order–but not if they can’t see it. If the whole site is too big to convert, do a little minisite just for tiny screens, and have a link to it on your home page. You could maybe showcase 2-3 products and invite them to sign up for an email that will give them the link to the full site when they’re back at home.

    Or better yet, do apps for IOS and Android. that makes you cutting-edge AND provides a good browser experience from phones AND might give you some viral traffic (you release the app at no charge).

    Ours is the last generation that will prefer to use the web from a computer. The future is mobile. Some of my sites have a mobile-optimized version, but I can’t remember which ones–and I don’t use my mobile on the web.

    I have mobile-optimized versions

  41. Please disregard the stray “I have mobile-optimized versions” at the end of my last message.

  42. Success:

    I have always been slightly ahead of my time and have always been interested in finding my next entrepreneurial adventure. I have also always been interested in reducing my carbon footprint. In my last venture I combined the two and have developed a product that is both eco-friendly, but also provides some good to the world we live in.

    I am an Optometrist in CT that specializes in ocular disease, and I have developed an all natural and organic dry eye compress called the EyeWarmer. It has been a long road getting started since I work full time seeing patients, but I believe in this product and I know it can continue down a successful path if I continue to focus on it.

    I find it truly inspirational to see all the other success stories here, and I hope to see many more.

    Please stop by our online store at http://www.eyewarmers.com for more info, and if anyone would like to share some thoughts or ideas please contact me through my site’s contact page.

    Thanks and good luck to all!

  43. Lorna Li says:

    @Erick, I’ve never heard of Eye Warmers before, but I’ll check them out. I am seriously contemplating Lasik because I’d love to have a day where I can see without glasses. But I hear that dry eyes are a side effect of LASIK surgery that can last for a long time. Can your Eye Warmers help with this?

  44. Frank says:

    I’ve always valued my freedom and never liked to dance to someone else tune. So I left my job and started freelance writing to pay the bills. From that I was able to start building my own blogs, and a successful Facebook page that focuses on positive social change. The inspiration that keeps me going is from the messages I receive from page members, telling me how much my posts inspire them.

    There was one time, when I felt like giving up because it seemed as though no one was listening, when one of the members sent me some links to a website. After reading one of my posts, she had organized the whole community to regenerate some abandoned land. They received permission from the city council and turned the land into a nature garden and play park. Seeing all the pictures of families, businesses owners and staff, and local public service workers, all coming together to build something, really boosted my determination to continue.

    Unlike many Facebook business pages, which are thinly veiled advertising ploys, I work on the ethos of communicating with the page members. They know my inbox is always open, and if I can help with anything then I will.

    At the moment I am trying to get better organized, and centralize my efforts so that members can better avail of my help. This includes setting up a free consultation service on one of my blogs for career and business advice. On another blog I organize community driven projects and initiatives. Members can submit project ideas and I source help for them from other members who are qualified in the area they want to work in.

    As it stands I am barely making a living, however, I anticipate that shifting the focus to my blogs will allow me to start earning a good wage and still be able to do the work that I am passionate about. From there I plan to create more blogs and sites, and will outsource the posts and content to freelance writers. Everything is going according to plan, and I couldn’t be happier.

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