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An ethical marketplace for artisans

Goodee – in conversation with the founding duo Byron and Dexter Peart. «How could those products expand to be better for the people and the progress?» – A digital B-Corp Certified marketplace

After twenty years in the design business and the founding of their company WANT Les Essentiels in 2007 – a sustainable high-end clothing and accessory label – the twin brothers Byron and Dexter Peart envisioned to display the creations of makers. Artisans who are seeking to work towards a conscious future themselves. «We saw that there was this missing destination where you can go and find trusted concepts that revolve around the ideas of good design and good purpose. Today it is about selling more. We are about selling better», tells Dexter Peart. With their approach to make craftsmen’s stories and transparency the core of their business, the duo embarked on the journey to founding their company Goodee in 2017. 

The B-Corp certified digital marketplace concept, offering sustainable makers and brands the opportunity to present their goods to an audience, leans on four Sustainable Development Goals: 12. being responsible for consumption and production; 13. climate action; 8. decent work and economic growth; 10. reduction of inequality within and among countries. «We felt from the beginning that we wanted to identify the closest cohesion to four. We built our own metrics system around the setting, measuring and reporting on these four goals», describes Byron Peart. His brother extends, «We asked ourselves: How can you tell a story about products that are meant to last? How could those products expand to be better for the people and the progress?»

According to the financial data firm Facteus, the consumer spending on Amazon between May and July was up 60 percent from the same timeframe last year. Evaluated from an economic standpoint, this extension positively contributes to the business’s development moving forward. Screening the company’s ethical and sustainable approach, the increase in pace and growth of orders could counteract the beginning of a human-centered business landscape with consciousness as a driving factor. «To support the development of ethical workplaces, clothing brands and companies must set public, measurable steps throughout their supply chain», states the survey’s conclusion. 

Berea College Student Crafts. Established in 1855 as the first non segregated coeducational college in the South Berea
Berea College Student Crafts – one of the Goodee’s selected brands – was established in 1855 as the first non-segregated, co-educational college in the South, Berea

What assembles an ethical and conscious workplace nowadays? Companies are negating the issue of misconduct at the workplace through by deploying codes of conduct, which employees and heads of firms have to agree on when being hired. «Any firm in 2021 that is not making transparency a cornerstone of their business is not necessarily going to steep good services moving forward», underlines Dexter Peart, co-founder of the American digital marketplace, Goodee. Ethical workplaces, such as Goodee, rely on a set of values, which determine an organization’s goals, policies, and practices. These standards are oriented towards guiding-points like discrimination, accountability, or sexual-harassment and are being implemented to prevent these unethical conducts. «It is about giving the right wages, not overworking the employees, creating a safe workspace and generating a profit flow that not only reaches the top-ends», states Dexter Peart. Practices such as the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, set by the United Nations, serve as measurement strategies to supervise companies and stabilize their ethical approach throughout their business processes. The goals recognize that «ending poverty and other deprivations must go hand-in-hand with strategies that improve health and education, reduce inequality, and spur economic growth – all while tackling climate change and working to preserve our oceans and forests».

From the start of their founding history, the Peart duo operated along with a company internal assessment base-line tool, taking into consideration that «parties such as a young artisan group would not necessarily have the same abilities as a fifty years old furniture maker who would be able to report from different standards. We do not want to say: you have to be 100 percent sustainable, because we do not believe it exists. What we want to say is – if you are committed to making an impact, then this is what we want to help celebrate». The methodology, specifying the criterias a brand has to meet to be considered a part of Goodee, is being communicated directly to the candidates, whereby transparency administers the process. 

The artisans’ stories on Goodee’s storytelling platform belong to the company’s commitment to putting people first. «We are a human-centric company», underlines Dexter Peart, «An ethical workplace within an organization or structure is where every person is taken into account and respected. The idea of responsible consumption and production starts with a conversation about the material, the same with the people. There has to be a high level of respect for all stakeholders that are part of the process». Since the launch of their digital platform in mid-2019, the company has featured 55 partners and craftsmen’s stories. «To become part of Goodee, the maker’s story is connected to our commitment. When we consider putting a brand up on the platform, our editorial team reaches out to them to get stories that embrace the WHY. Why do those brands exist, and who are the people making the goods?» underlines Dexter Peart. «We want to get viewpoints from people around the world, across gender and race. As much as we are a curated marketplace, we are an education platform». The concept carries fruits. Despite the COVID-19 crisis, Goodee reported exponential growth in Q2 and Q3 of this year, with sales increasing over 50% during the lockdown quarter. It is being confirmed that the business is forecasted to more than double in annual turnover in the next year.

Goodee’s assessment tools ensure that sustainability and equity fuse the production processes from any partner brands. Set through the sustainable development goals and B-Corp commitment, Goodee reinforces the social factors of inclusion and diversity. «Our supply chain, buying, and commitment to fabric development and production enrolls into the B-Corp certification, which we received before our business turned one year. Through B-Corp, we measure the impact we have on underrepresented communities. Inclusivity and diversity are visible in our numbers. From our partners on the platform, over 50 percent of the businesses are female-owned or co-founded and between 15-20 percent from Bipoc communities». With over 70 percent of the office employees being female and over 50 percent from Bipoc communities, Goodee is on the forefront for structural development. The facet of traceability, «the ability to track steps to tell a story and share it with a consumer», adds to the brand’s responsibility commitment. 

«We analyze our partners’ greenhouse gas emissions and waste management systems. It enables us to be an input data center by bringing information from partners and showing validity. Secondly, we work together to build a path for their development and share their standpoint. We can support the brands, while those can serve as input for other makers», says Byron. Dexter adds, «One of the first hires we made was for the sustainability team. The person drives daily and weekly conversations with the suppliers and makers and adds the details into Goodee’s knowledge base -our data center. Goodee’s investors are impact investors. We build a level of cohesion and aggregate information about the best practices and use this information to add value to our partners. It is a transformative space held together by questions and answers».

The B-Corporation, a concept committed to building an equitable future through legislative and regulatory changes, balances businesses’ purpose and profit. From 150 industries, 3.637 companies from 74 countries have been certified B-Corporation. On Goodee’s platform, 22 percent of the companies represented belong to Certified B-Corporations. «For us, this is an opportunity to be a marketplace for B-Corp brands that put design at the focus of what they do». The B-Corp assessment is repeated every two years to ensure that all certified brands align with its conduct. Companies such as SML, a service for supply chain tracking and sustainable business solutions would realize that «giving insights into the internal processes and data and the communication about these facts to the public could be rewarded by their clientele. B-Corp speeds the process for companies to redirect and re-engineer their businesses to be B-Corp friendly». The business’s demographics reveal who Goodee reaches as a core customer with this strategy – Women aged 24 to 44. Their loyalty and interest in the company’s concept tribute to the consistency in traction and momentum to a heightened activity in supporting sustainability-driven brands and black-owned businesses, along with an increased demand for online home décor items spurred by a new, home-bound reality.

Goodee
The artisan creates the Goodee pillow, representing a product that fulfills their design and integration principles

Goodee does not solely support individual artisans and makers but produces and designs products underlying ethical and sustainable standards. Their first product, the Goodee pillow, in collaboration with the Ethical Fashion Initiative, represents a product that fulfills their principles of design and integration. «Manufactured by a social corporation in Kenya, Nairobi, the product acts as a canvas for our story. Seeing that creating a product holds an opportunity and story is what gives it character», says Byron Peart. He pursues, «The collaboration with EFI originated from a personal relationship to its Director Simone Cipriani through whom we had the luxury to travel to West-Africa, Burkina Faso in 2018 and meet the weavers and cotton growers. Seeing what happens on the ground and how the work impacts these communities makes the story of the product». 

Their commitment to the 1 percent for the Planet project is another step on their agenda to sustain the future. By donating 1 percent of Goodee’s revenues to four of the 4000 registered organizations, the Peart duo intends to go one step further on the ladder towards environmental improvements and diversity. 

«We built on opportunity». For Spring 2021, Goodee works on incorporating a physical retail component to the digital market base. «Twenty to fifty years ago, retailers were limited to their physical spaces, but this limitation does not exist anymore in the online sphere. I hope that micro-marketplaces are going to be the future, though there is always going to be space for the mass-market large-corporation-networks. We want to reconnect to our audience and engage in sharing stories».

IMAGE GALLERY

Goodee World
Member of 1% for the Planet
B Corp Certified Marketplace

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