Well we had a fabulous start to 2022, having submitted our BCorps application only on the 7th December, we were lucky enough to be approved by the 3rd of January! BCorps was on my goal list for maybe 2nd half of 2022, so I was super thrilled it happened so quickly.
Which of course it didn't, because the reality is, I first went to a BLab session to work on my application back in 2017. I have to admit I found it so daunting I couldn't see how a small start-up like mine could ever get there and I kind of blocked it out - back burner stuff for sure. However, it kept nagging at me, and every year I'd have another look and feel equally daunted, until early 2021 when a fabulous BCorps friend introduced me to a BCorps consultant, one of a newly fledged breed of heroes trained to work with businesses of all sizes to get them over the line. Thank you Kirsty Simmonds! As well as feeling like we had somehow lived parallel lives with many sliding door moments when we could easily have met, Kirsty made me feel, for the first time, that I had this. Although I didn't necessarily fit the mould as a micro business, Kirsty recognised that everything I had achieved to date sprang from exactly the place that the BCorps movement inhabited, and that I just needed to approach the application in a different way and put structure and evidence around the things the business already did well.
We thus began a weekly journey of catch ups to go through 189 questions again and again, and it's a story of 'althoughs'!
Although I was always confident our products mitigated negative environmental impact, through digging out applicable research I was able to quantify our environmental impact and come up with some really hard data, which also gives me targets to work towards for next year.
Although I work solo with a virtual team, I had under-estimated the broader reach and impact this small business has on under-represented communities including our fantastic partnership with Avenue, and the fact we actually buy over 50% of our materials from female-founded ventures.
Although I work with a factory in a developing nation that I have visited and feel personally very comfortable with, we established and formalised a Code of Conduct to ensure our customers felt comfortable with everyone's accountability.
Although my major manufacturing spend is offshore (only 17% of manufacturing locally because we have no lingerie factories here anymore), and a fair proportion of my materials spend as we don't manufacture the materials I need locally, 100% of my running cost spend is with businesses based in Australia, almost all founder-operated and mostly run by women.
Although I have many interactions with my community, I formalised a stakeholder engagement plan which helped me see exactly where I was at with each group, as well where I could and would focus more to do better going forward.
Although I failed to see how I could meet the requirement for volunteering when I'm so busy running a business, when we counted up the hours I've put in presenting on panels at conferences and universities, as well as work I'm currently undertaking within the industry around textile composting, what do you know, it's around an hour a week!
Although I work with a small cohort of friends and advisors as sounding boards, I formalised this into an Advisory Board to ensure that my broad, generalist thinking is always challenged by experts in their respective fields.
Although doing the right thing is the foundation of this business and the reason it is here, I've not always thought to share the things we do and why as they seemed like no-brainers to me, but I've learned that it's best to not assume that everyone operates in the same way, and that its better to clearly to articulate the positives to ensure confidence in the business.
It wasn't easy, and I couldn't have got there without Kirsty's help, but the process has brought a whole heap of learning and invaluable structure to my business, structure which is always the last thing to be formalised when you're battling the day to day of a manufacturing and online business whose operation works across many different countries.
I'm now looking forward to being part of the BCorps family and the new learning and connections that will come of this, as well as reflecting and sharing in 12 months' time on additional achievements based on going through this process.
To anyone thinking of applying for BCorps, don't lose faith. It's a long journey but there are people out there to help, as well as the BCorps analysts themselves, and as long as what you do in business comes from a place of integrity and purpose, I'm pretty sure you can get there too!