Social Impact Start With Us
We had the opportunity to attend The Heart Series Feb 15 & 16 in the beautiful city of Manhattan Beach, CA. We prepared for a day of panels, networking and discussion. Once there, we quickly realized that this was more than a conference and more like a 2 day retreat. An immersive learning experience, diving deep into the incredible innovation being shaped by some of our generations leading social impact companies.
Authentic communication and transparency, is sometimes lost in our world of technology and social media. Because social impact starts with people, we left The Heart Series feeling like our heart and mind were in a new place of awareness, among what our world is using to leverage technology and the way it connects us.
Some of our favorite brands and companies represented included:
Soko: this handmade jewelry company uses technology to "knit together" human & tech, with their creation of what they call a “virtual factory” giving the artisans who create the jewelry, the freedom to be their own CEOs and community leaders.
Everlane: one of our all time favorite brands presented their new denim and a video campaign. We learned that their denim is manufactured in the world's cleanest denim factory using closed water systems that keep toxic dyes from getting into water supplies.
Wayfarer: we learned about this media company creating content dedicated to opening up conversations with people of all walks of life. Their goal is to inspire real conversations around real issues.
SoulPancake: another one of our favorites and another fellow media company, focus on digging a little deeper into the human experience. During the conference, one of their members led us in an activity surrounding the exchange of empathy—let’s just say tears were shed
Beautycounter: we were excited to learn about this skin care company’s initiatives to change the harmful ingredients that are aloud in makeup. Their mission is to empower women to go to congress and fight for transparency and the banning of certain harmful ingredients.
5 Key Takeaways From The Heart Series
There was so much incredible information and inspiring thoughts during the conference that we had to take some time to digest and sort through what resonated with us the most. Below are the 5 most impactful takeaways to carry with us.
1. Leverage Technology For Transparency
We loved hearing from Rob Michalak— Global Director of Ben & Jerry’s who spoke about the importance of creating standards around transparency. Specifically held within the moving parts of a business. In discussing their dairy standards he said “happy farmers, happy workers, happy earth.” We also loved hearing from Natalie Ebel from the non-profit Pencils of Promise, who are leveraging technology and transparency by using Virtual Reality to communicate the big picture story behind what they are doing for the world. During Everlane’s panel they discussed something called “radical transparency” which is essentially being very bold and honest in the process of discussing transparency within your brand.
This also seemed to be a theme in the conversations that we carried with the various attendees who came to the conference. We learned that within the realm of social impact, there is the overall yearn for transparency to be of the utmost importance within an organization because at the end of the day, that is what we are fighting for.
2. Remember Humanity In All That We Do
It’s easy to forget, when building a brand or scrolling through social media, that there are hundreds and thousands of real people living a parallel existence similar to our own and that we are all intrinsically connected. Farhoud Meybodi of Wayfarer said: “we are living in an era of true engagement, a two way conversation.” When speaking on the importance of engagement online by creating community. He followed that by saying “this is how we remind the viewer of humanity.”
This concept was widely discussed in the way nonprofits, social impact media companies and tech companies like SoulPancake, Team Rubicon and Bumble are putting a great deal of emphasis on their overall models of humans first. It was especially moving to hear some of the stories about how these brands are diving deep into their brand community. Such as Team Rubicons model of working with veterans to train them in leading volunteer work during natural disasters.
3. Employ Courage & Out Of The Box Thinking
Many of the founders of the companies represented at The Hearts Series told stories of the courage that it took to start, not only a company, but a company with deep rooted values. It was interesting to hear about some of the challenges that were faced in receiving funding or overall respect from people who maybe didn't understand what their business goal was. One of our favorite online natural grocers Thrive Market, spoke about the difficulties faced with receiving funding and that in the end they turned to influencers with shared values to create their initial funding. What moved us the most was the “never back down” mentality for getting the important messages out into the world.
4. Connect With Younger Generations
We loved the discussions surrounding how much we can leverage youth in gaining grassroots marketing to grow businesses. The youth of today are tech savvy, excited about innovation and want to be involved, especially when it comes to global impact.
We were inspired by the way companies are involving youth in their business, like Serengetee who use high school students as their ambassadors to create content and get the word out there. The company Stoked was started by an entrepreneur who was so inspired by the mentorship that he received in college, he decided to start his own non-profit program that mentors youth through snowboarding and skateboarding.
5. Lead With Empathy
This sounds like a no brainer but in a world filled with different opinions and deep rooted challenges we discussed the importance of living in empathy through the way we are communicating with one another. Not only as a brand but as consumers, how can we listen closer to one another? This falls perfectly in-line with the shared values of doing good for the planet and people through products and systems. Gwendolyn Floyd of Soko said it well "the future of ethical fashion is doing things not only kinder but doing things better” when discussing their standards for working with the artisans that make their jewelry.
The concept of living with empathy ties all of what we learned at The Heart Series together; being courageous, having transparent standards, working with youth, remembering there is humans behind all that we do. These concepts all come back to living in empathy. Remaining patient, kind and striving for more overall love and connection to aid in making our world a stronger more thriving place for all.
Photos by Ryan Hartford