Special Guest: Phoebe Yu, CEO of ettitude
On this episode of the Impact Exchange, we're happy to introduce Phoebe Yu, CEO of ettitude-- a sustainable home essentials brand that is rooted in impact. She will share their story of impact across their organization, product development, supply chain, and how they are navigating the changing environment of consumer engagement during times of crisis.
Pillars of Impact
Giving to create impact goes beyond a monetary donation. In the era of conscious consumerism, consumers are much more aware of brands who demonstrate corporate purpose and act ethically, compared to those who don't or even worse, those who use deception through greenwashing to appear more ethical than they actually are. As consumers increasingly educate themselves on sustainability and corporate social responsibility, they want to support brands who demonstrate ethical business practices, give back, and make an impact on the world around us.
For ettitude, impact has 3 pillars: economic, environmental and social.
First and foremost, the main goal of a business is to be profitable. Self-sustainability and growth are key components to any business-- success. However, being profitable does not mean sacrificing the planet in order to have a successful business. In the age of conscious consumerism, corporate social responsibility and business success go hand-in-hand.At ettitude, they are driven by their purpose to create a more comfortable and sustainable world for all-- that's their "why." But in order to do that, they also need to stay in business! They look at this as their "how." Understanding that maintaining a profitable and self-sustaining business fuels their ability to make an impact is what inspires them to grow the business and deliver their best every day.
At ettitude, sustainability is top of mind and is integrated throughout their entire supply chain. From the production of sustainable materials to the CO_ emissions that are produced from visitors on their site, ettitude takes into consideration every touchpoint of their business that has an effect on the environment. In today's market, consumers want goods that can be reused or recycled, but this does not stop the consumption of new products. However, waste doesn't always begin with the consumer. Oftentimes there is 70x more waste through the manufacturing process before a product ever even gets to a shelf to be sold, compared to the waste that is produced when a consumer goes to recycle that same product.
This is why ettitude believes that products should be sustainable from the start. They start with using ethically sourced bamboo to then create biodegradable fabrics and fibers to ensure their products are safe to be returned to nature. Even the fabric cut-offs they produce are repurposed into packing and drawstring bags so as to create little to no waste and can be reused by their customers over and over.
First and foremost, ettitude prioritizes the well-being of their employees, and then looks to the surrounding community and actively searches for ways to give back. The ettitude team members all have causes they care about, and Phoebe often turns to them in times of crisis when discussing where they can give back. As sustainability is a core pillar and as a proud member of 1% For The Planet, ettitude places environmental causes as top priority.In addition, the ettitude team is primarily female-led and are advocates for women's education.
"Improving women's education can actually benefit the environment. Women are more likely to care about environmental causes and can serve as advocates in their community. In fact, in Project Drawdown's 100 ways to tackle climate change and global warming, women's education is ranked number 4." LGBTQ advocacy and awareness is also a top priority for the ettitude team.
Digitally Native Brands in the Midst of Economic Crisis
When looking at the Pure-Play Report from Agency Within, a direct-to-consumer and direct response agency, pure-play brands are down by 41% in revenue-- better than the 59% they were down just two days earlier. Luxury home goods may not typically be considered as everyday essentials, but as consumers are spending significantly more time at home, ettitude is still performing well.
"We are the lucky ones. We did not see a dip in sales, but of course not before we had aggressive growth plans for 2020. We may not hit that plan." - Phoebe
In the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, many brands have been forced to shut down operations temporarily, some unfortunately permanently. How will these events affect the way we view the supply chain and the new "normal" for business life? With multiple manufacturing locations, ettitude's supply chain has held up nicely. Phoebe believes this will give a new perspective to brands who have only one or two manufacturers/warehouses and we'll soon see brands with multiple locations in the hopes that another crisis such as this would have less catastrophic effects.
Businesses may also rethink the typical business structure that we see today. With many companies being able to operate at full capacity online, the need for actual office space may be redefined. For retail brands who do not currently have an online presence, this shutdown is likely to shift their brand from primarily a brick-and-mortar to the eCommerce space.
Impact's Role in Profit and Loss (P&L)
In the time of economic crisis, it may seem irrational to place emphasis on giving back. Just as brands are more conscious of how they spend money during an economic downturn, so are consumers. Consumers often take corporate social responsibility into consideration when choosing which brands to support, but in times such as these, it is more important than ever that brands demonstrate corporate purpose (McKinsey & Company, 2020).
"Today's crisis reinforced our belief that we should never aim for just growth. We began January with aggressive goals for growth and once the COVID-19 crisis hit, ettitude had to scramble to cut costs and marketing spend in order to sustain our commitment to our mission."
For companies who want to do more in times like these, the approach depends on the company's financial situation, but employees should always come first. The well-being of employees plays a huge role in business success. Right now, it's important to give back to your community- hospitals, doctors, and nurses are putting their lives on the line and we can all do our part to give back to them.
Listen to the podcast to learn Phoebe-s thought on:
- How she defines impact from a business perspective
- How the COVID-19 crisis will shift perspectives on supply chain and business structures
- How ettitude builds CSR into their entire business model
To find out more about ettitude, you can visit their website ettitude.com and sign up to their newsletter or join them on Instagram @ettitudestore.In addition, get 20% off by using the code: IMPACT when you shop ettitude's website from now until July 31st, 2020.
We hope you enjoyed this episode of The Impact Exchange, until next time...