EP 135: Growing A Truly Sustainable Business With Art & Eden Founder Susan Correa

The Nitty Gritty

  • The story behind Susan’s personal breakthrough that prompted her to leave a two decade fashion career to launch Art & Eden, a sustainable clothing line for kids
  • How Susan transformed her approach to business from fast to slow
  • What processes Susan and the Art & Eden team put in place to stay accountable to their sustainability values
  • Where — and why — they give back a portion of their profits to social equity projects as a part of their Buy Better, Do Better mission

After two decades in the fast fashion industry, Susan Correa decided to leave her career as the sole breadwinner of her family to pursue a more sustainable approach to fashion. Today, Susan is the founder of Art & Eden, a sustainable clothing line for kids that approaches fashion in a slower, more intentional pace and weaves in social equity projects into the foundation of the business model.

Listen to this episode of What Works to hear more from Susan on what transformed her mindset to create a business that is better for the planet and the people. Plus, so much more on the values, processes, and branding efforts that go into a sustainable business model — and how that applies to any business.

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Leaving behind a career to launch a business

“It was the most difficult decision of both my personal and professional life. It was a really tough decision but I could no longer participate in a world that values profit over people. I knew too much.” — Susan Correa

In Susan’s fashion industry experience she focused entirely on profit. What trends would bring the most money? That was at the foundation of everything Susan did for two decades. But after learning more about using business for good, including giving a portion of profits to social equity programs, Susan faced a turning point in her life.

Susan declares, “I had one of two choices: accept the industry or change the industry. And I’m one that doesn’t take anything lying down so I decided to make change a reality.”

With a newfound passion for sustainability, partnered with her longstanding experience in fashion, she decided to leave the career behind and start a brand new business from the ground up. That business is now Art & Eden, a collection of sustainable children’s clothes made from organic cotton, low-impact dyes, and unique prints.

Staying accountable to sustainability principles

“It’s really a coming together of committed people from committed institutions that makes it all come together. Even in our smaller world of Art & Eden, engaging with a community that cares is what enables us to make this a possibility.” — Susan Correa

Creating a sustainable foundation to your business requires buy in and help from anyone — and any company, collaborator, or partner — that touches your business. In this conversation, Susan shared multiple ways that her company stays accountable to the sustainability principles that they were founded on. Here’s a quick look:

  • Sustainability from seed to finished product. This means asking questions like: are we dying the textiles in the correct manner? Are we labeling products correctly? Are we working to educate our farmers?
  • Relationships with independent testers. Art & Eden works with the Global Organic Textile Standard, or GOTS, as well as OEKO-TEX to independently test materials. These relationships signify Art & Eden’s commitment to truly sustainable textiles.
  • Triple bottom line accounting. It’s not just about profit: the company also exists to give back.

 

How a sustainable business brands their product

“The entire brand message, from the story of how the brand is better for the planet, for people in the community, and for the little kids as well as our impact journey, is all documented on the hand tag of the garment.” — Susan Correa

There are multiple ways that Art & Eden approaches branding — and everything starts from a solid product. “That’s a winning formula for any business: where you start with the product and you ensure you get the product right.”

They work with artisans from around the world to create their unique prints that you can’t find anywhere else. I mean, how cute is this Alligator sweatshirt? Or what about this monstera leaf dress?

Beyond design is the heart of their product: sustainable fabric, including organic cotton and recycled or upcycled polyester, and low-impact dyes. Both are crucial to their sustainability mission of Buy Better, Do Better.

Want more from Susan Correa? Listen to this episode of What Works to hear more about her transformation from fast to slow fashion, how she keeps her team and partners accountable to uphold sustainable practices, and how their social equity programs work.

By Tara McMullin

Writer, Podcaster, Producer. Founder of What Works.

May 29, 2018

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EP 299: How To Design Your Own Sales System

EP 299: How To Design Your Own Sales System

This week, I’ve got 4 more stories to share with you from small business owners who have intentionally done things their own way when it comes to sales and selling. They’ve found what truly works for them–even if it bucks the prevailing wisdom or would make a bro marketing expert role his or her eyes.

These stories come from business coach Ashley Gartland, marketing expert Amy Lippmann, designer Mel Richards, and work reinvention coach Lydia Lee.

Listen for how they incorporated these same considerations into finding their own unique sales systems. They designed their systems with personal values, strong relationships, reduced anxiety, and agency in mind.

EP 298: Creating A Less Harmful Sales System with Wanderwell Founder Kate Strathmann

EP 298: Creating A Less Harmful Sales System with Wanderwell Founder Kate Strathmann

This show is called What Works for a reason.

Sometimes it’s a declaration: this is what worked for this small business. And often, it’s a question, “What works?”

Today’s episode is very much a question, many questions, really:

What works when it comes to selling when you want to avoid manipulative or exploitative practices?

What works when your values conflict with many of the best practices of selling online but you still want people to buy your stuff?

What works when it comes to sales in a business that is actively anti-racist and anti-capitalist?

And even more bluntly: Can you even sell things without causing harm or perpetuating harmful systems?

My friend Kate Strathmann is the founder of Wanderwell, a bookkeeping and consulting firm that grows thriving businesses while investigating new models for being in business.

Recently, Kate took a bit of a detour from how she’s used to building her business, which is 90% referral based and fueled by deep relationship- and community-building. She decided to offer a small group program called the Equitable Business Incubator as a way of exploring anti-capitalist business practices and how they apply to the small businesses we’re building.

To fill the program, Kate need to sell differently.

Which led her to asking the question: Can you even sell things as a anti-capitalist?

While that might not be your specific question, I have a feeling that you too have wondering how you can effectively sell your offers without causing harm, perpetuating harmful systems, or damaging relationships. And that’s why I knew Kate and I needed to explore this topic on the show.

This is a conversation about what a kinder, less harmful sales process could look like—and it probably contains more questions than answers. But I’m confident those questions can help you find the answers that are right for you and the sales system that you want to build to make your business stronger.

We start out by defining what we’re really talking about when we talk about capitalism and anti-capitalism. Then, Kate shares how the Equitable Business Incubator came to be and how she ended up selling it. And then we dig into what makes many of the sales formulas and best practices being taught today problematic—and how to think differently to create your own alternative practices.

Now, let’s take a look at what works for creating less harmful sales systems!

EP 297: Selling A New Program With Proof To Product Founder Katie Hunt

EP 297: Selling A New Program With Proof To Product Founder Katie Hunt

Today’s guest is Katie Hunt—who is a member of the former group and serves the latter group.

Katie is the founder of Proof To Product, which helps creative entrepreneurs run and grow thriving product-based businesses. She works with designers, illustrators, and artists to help them develop in-demand product lines and get them sold in stores all over the world.

Not long after the pandemic threw her business and the industry she serves for a major loop, Katie and her team launched Proof To Product Labs to provide a completely digital, ongoing support opportunity for business owners when they needed it most.

And that launch was a smash.

Katie and I get into all of the nuts and bolts of how she adjusted the offer to meet the moment and how she warmed up her audience before the campaign, as well as the exact mix of emails, podcast ads, and social media content she used to sell the offer when it went live. We also talk about how she sees the sales system evolving in the future and how the offer has been received now that people are using it!

What Works offers in-depth, well-researched content that strips away the hype of the 21st-century economy. Whether you love the podcast, the articles, or the Instagram content, we’d love your support