The first day of the Sustainable Brands Copenhagen 2016 conference gave me a feeling of hope, because the people I met there truly believe in sustainability and higher purpose and their many benefits to the earth, people, and business.
Before I left Prague a number of people I spoke to about the conference dismissed it, saying that it was just going to be about how to make money off of environmental concerns and fears.
In fact I heard this so much that I started to be concerned that maybe I had made a mistake. But, being stubborn, I went anyway.
Patagonia uses up-cycled fibers and designs their products to last, they can also be returned and the company replaces them and then reuses the old ones, often cleaning it up and reselling it. They have patagonia second hand stores and an online version with a social media platform. They have been extremely successful with this model.
But, I must say, that I was touched emotionally by the genuine and positive vibe of the conference from the first moments.
By lunch time the first day I had met and talked to people from companies like Patagonia and Mudd Jeans, and participated in workshops with them on developing skills to overcome the barriers to becoming a sustainable business. I came away convinced that these people are serious, and really mean it.
In the Mudd Jeans model customers do not buy the jeans, they buy the use of the jeans and the company owns, and there fore cares for the materials. There are trade-ins, and replacements
The people I met were successful people who want to continue to build successful and lasting brands that offer innovative and quality products, and make a profit. At the same time they also came across as people who truly believe that to do this in the 21st century you must truly care about your customers and give them something real and genuine to believe in, that you must have responsibility to more than just your shareholders, that you must inspire change in areas that are visible and relevant to consumers and their children that will make their lives better.
It gave me a hopeful feeling that the people running the companies that will survive and succeed in this century have this attitude and that they understand that to do that their products and organizations must be:
and that DOING GOOD is not only the right thing to do, but its byproduct is good business, good profits, and deeper brand loyalty
Perhaps some of the people who were cynical about the conference before I left might say that I am naïve. And, perhaps I am. But I also believe that nothing new, innovative, or world changing in a positive way ever happened without a little bit of naiveté, which is basically just the state of having and open mind and not being judgmental.