“Be the change you wish to see in the world”
I remember the first time I read Mahatma Gandhi’s quote as I found it elusive and complex. How could I change poverty or social injustice by taking the time to open a door for a stranger?
Over time this simple statement has become my mantra for my family. I have tried to help my children learn that you create the narrative for your life by the choices you make each and every day. Like choosing to engage in positive conversations or creating habits that encourage better mental health and wellness. Observing the people you choose to bring into your life – do they lift you up or tear you down? Realizing that you are the change you want to see in the world is one of the hardest and possibly one of most frustrating parts of navigating the human journey.
But it was a deep understanding that change does in fact come from the inside that propelled Jane and I to embrace the challenge of becoming a Certified B Corp.
Having started a business centered around improving the mental and physical health of the home cook and providing sustainable employment for adults with disabilities, we knew that our vision was aligned around B Corp principles.
Jane and I used information and ideas from Conscious Capitalism, Let my People Go Surfing (by Patagonia founder, Yvon Chouinard) and Sacred Commerce to build the foundation for our business. All of these concepts focus on how a for-profit business can be a force for good in the world. The philosophy is about cultivating a sense of respect and civility within your corporate culture, with money being a by-product of rather than the sole purpose of, your business.
We took it a step further by utilizing Strength Finders to create a deeper understanding of how we could be more effective. To bring Strength Finders to life, as well as better understand how best to construct and staff our team, we brought in our friend Joanie Muench, founder of 922, inc., from the very beginning.
Why the passion for creating a social movement in business? It stems from my long held belief that it’s through business, community and neighborhoods that social change can begin.
And in all sincerity, becoming a Certified B Corp challenged us to engage in a deep level of personal introspection about our own core values and guiding principles. In addition to the rigorous assessment we had to perform Pooja (our representative from B Corp) spent close to 2 hours with me drilling down on every aspect of our business. She asked me questions such as:
Q) How do you care for your employees?
A) We built our business around a policy of “family first”, and that is a guiding principal. At Zen we are unabashedly proud that a school play is something that takes priority. It doesn’t mean that we work part-time or do things halfway, it means that we work together as a team to support each other.
Q) How are you committed to transparency?
A) In terms of our products, the ingredients for each of our blends are clearly stated on both the outside of the pouch and on our website. As for our team, each month we sit down together to review our progress and discuss how we can more effective and strengthen our business.
Q) How have you reduced your carbon footprint?
A) We are committed to doing our best to source all of our materials locally, or within the Midwest region. We are proud to purchase our spices from Woodland Foods, which is located 15 minutes from our office. Our labels are sourced from the Chicagoland area. Our cardboard packaging is produced in Minnesota and our newest pouches will be printed in Wisconsin.
And what else – we’ve built our business from a domain name on “Go Daddy” to having our products in over 50 retail stores, present in 3 meal kits, and available online through Peapod and Amazon. We’ve won awards this year for both the quality of our spices (sofi Award for outstanding new product) and our contribution to helping adults with disabilities find employment. And the number of adults with disabilities who are employed by Planet Access Company in packaging our products has grown to over 30!
So, in closing, we are encouraging all of you to be the change you want to see in this world. And if you aren’t buying locally this holiday season, then buy with purpose!
In the spirit of our business as well as holiday, we are partnering with Packed with Purpose to create a holiday gift box. It will feature our sofi Award winning Sichuan Blend and our dinner party classic Coq au Vin; chai tea from Tea Spot (a fellow B Corp) and a delicious bar of Macaw Chocolate. Packed with Purpose only partners with social impact business and I’m happy to say each box is hand packed by one of our team members at Planet Access Company! For more info or to order one today click here to shop.
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”