Could this business support more people – by killing fish?

Good Stories

Good Stories was organised by Matter&Co, Pioneers Post and The NatWest SE100 Index

Yesterday RBS/NatWest hosted the Good Stories event at their gleaming offices in London.

I was a keynote speaker for a session about storytelling in business and on a panel about how to engage journalists. Went well: excellent buzz, super feedback. It was also a fantastic opportunity to learn from some of the other business leaders and social entrepreneurs in the room.

One of these was Camilla Marcus-Dew, founder and head of commercial at The Soap Co. In their own words, “The Soap Co. is an ethical luxury brand that employs people who are blind, disabled or disadvantaged. Our products are good and do good.”

The business has been featured in Elle, Grazia, Tatler, Red, and plenty of other media which are read by their target market.

Their branding is beautiful and their products are of premium quality. They know how to secure positive media coverage.

Camilla spoke in a debate about how social enterprises (and this applies to values-driven businesses too) balance, prioritise and integrate communications around your commercial proposition with those centered around your social impact.

The Soap Co. – whose products are made in the UK with natural extracts and are colour and paraben free – could potentially make more money and therefore support more people who are blind, disabled or disadvantaged if they used cheaper ingredients. Their ethical and mainly vegetable-derived ingredients cost a lot. But cheaper ingredients damage the environment. “Could our business support more people with disabilities if we killed more fish?” asked Camilla.

It was a flippant question of course but let’s answer it. Perhaps if The Soap Co. made more profit (surplus in their case) by using cheaper, but more damaging ingredients, then they could support more people (that is their business’ purpose). But it’s clear that their high quality and natural ingredients, and their ethics throughout their business are a key part of The Soap Co.’s values. Cheap ingredients would destroy sales for their business (and kill fish).

All businesses need to be mindful of profit, and of the costs in your supply chain. But it can often be a false economy to replace excellent, reliable ingredients with a cheaper alternative. It is also a false economy to choose a service-based supplier (like, er, a communications consultancy!) purely on price. A cheap but poor supplier could even destroy your business. Chose suppliers who share your values, who solve your problems, and generate a return on your investment that you’re happy with.

Anyway: if you’re in the market for luxury soap, made from wonderful ingredients, that also does good in the world: you now know where to get it. And if you want a good example of business (and social enterprise) storytelling in action, check out The Soap Co. film below.

Incidentally, Matter&Co did a brilliant job organising Good Stories yesterday. Hats off to them, and RBS/NatWest for hosting.

What next?

  • Some attendees at Good Stories said they faced problems with engaging the media and getting journalists to cover their stories. I covered this in detail in my talk yesterday and in one-to-one conversations afterwards with several people, and it’s something that I (and the fine folk at Keep Your Fork) can help you with. Want to get the media coverage you deserve? We can show you what to do and help you to do it. Come and meet us for breakfast to find out more – details are near the top of this page  (see the section about the Inox Dine, Sheffield event).
  • join the VeitchVantage list for FREE tips, advice, interviews and analysis to help grow your business or social enterprise, achieve your goals, and get the media coverage you deserve.Your email address is secure and you can unsubscribe at any time. Get access now:

  • Watch this film about The Soap Co:

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