How a Mission-Driven Approach can Increase DTC Sales & Profitability

Apr 30, 2021 12:00 PM1:00 PM EST

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Key Discussion Takeaways

Most businesses are primarily focused on financial return. However, a company that cares about its profit margins can also be a company that does great good for its employees, customers, community, and even society in general. That’s why many companies have added philanthropy and sustainability to their core values and mission statements: to be a positive, altruistic influence in the world. Unfortunately, a great deal of mission-driven companies struggle to balance the practicality of profit and the power of purpose in the daily grind of running a business. So, how can your company both generate revenue and give back to the society at the same time?

In this virtual event, Aaron Conant sits down with Veronica Katz, the Chief Revenue Officer of Sezzle, to discuss how mission-driven businesses can simultaneously thrive financially and champion worthy causes. Veronica is joined by Teri Levy of Prima and Nate Jones of Frank And Oak. Listen in as this group of experts goes over how to translate sustainability practices to customer loyalty, how COVID changed their companies, and how they maintain transparency.

Here's a glimpse of what you'll learn:


  • Veronica Katz talks about the importance of balancing purpose and profit in your company
  • What are the benefits of being a “buy now, pay later” business?
  • The ins and outs of B Corp companies
  • How are businesses reevaluating their methods in light of COVID-19?
  • The value of finding new ways to improve the consumer’s experience
  • How to give back to communities through your company
  • Strategies for practically translating sustainability efforts into customer loyalty
  • Veronica’s top-notch advice for new mission-driven companies
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Event Partners


Sezzle provides provides an alternative payment platform, offering interest-free installment plans at selected online stores. They are a leading Buy Now, Pay Later provider.

Connect with Sezzle

Guest Speaker

Veronica Katz

Chief Revenue Officer at Sezzle

Veronica Katz is the Chief Revenue Officer at Sezzle, a buy now, pay later payment platform that is transforming how people shop. Veronica has over 20 years of experience in executive marketing and strategy roles. 

Before joining Sezzle, Veronica was the Vice President of Global Accounts for PayPal, the CSA Head of Retail Marketing, Strategy, and Alliances at eBay, and the Vice President of Strategic Partnerships and Business Development at David’s Bridal.

Aaron Conant LinkedIn

Co-Founder & Managing Director at BWG Connect

Aaron Conant is Co-Founder and Chief Digital Strategist at BWG Connect, a networking and knowledge sharing group of thousands of brands who collectively grow their digital knowledge base and collaborate on partner selection. Speaking 1x1 with over 1200 brands a year and hosting over 250 in-person and virtual events, he has a real time pulse on the newest trends, strategies and partners shaping growth in the digital space.

Event Moderator

Veronica Katz

Chief Revenue Officer at Sezzle

Veronica Katz is the Chief Revenue Officer at Sezzle, a buy now, pay later payment platform that is transforming how people shop. Veronica has over 20 years of experience in executive marketing and strategy roles. 

Before joining Sezzle, Veronica was the Vice President of Global Accounts for PayPal, the CSA Head of Retail Marketing, Strategy, and Alliances at eBay, and the Vice President of Strategic Partnerships and Business Development at David’s Bridal.

Aaron Conant LinkedIn

Co-Founder & Managing Director at BWG Connect

Aaron Conant is Co-Founder and Chief Digital Strategist at BWG Connect, a networking and knowledge sharing group of thousands of brands who collectively grow their digital knowledge base and collaborate on partner selection. Speaking 1x1 with over 1200 brands a year and hosting over 250 in-person and virtual events, he has a real time pulse on the newest trends, strategies and partners shaping growth in the digital space.

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Aaron Conant

Co-Founder & Managing Director at BWG Connect

BWG Connect provides executive strategy & networking sessions that help brands from any industry with their overall business planning and execution.

Co-Founder & Managing Director Aaron Conant runs the group & connects with dozens of brand executives every week, always for free.

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Discussion Transcription

Aaron Conant  0:18  

My name is Aaron Conant, I'm the Co-founder and Managing Director of BWG Connect, we're a networking and knowledge sharing group of 1000s of brands who do exactly that. We network and now share together to stay on top of the newest trends, pain points, digital strategies, whatever it might be, that, you know, we're kind of walking through this eCommerce and digital path together. So I talk with about 30 brands a week to stay on top of those. And that's how we get the ideas for the cause when the same topics come up over and over again, we host an event like this, some point in the future, we'll get back to in person events as well, that's going to be super exciting. Now I'm probably 2/4 this year is kind of what it's looking like right now. But a couple of housekeeping items, as we kick this off, we're starting three to four minutes after the hour. And we're going to wrap up with three to four minutes to go as well. And the other thing is, if you have any questions along the way, we want to get as many of those answered as possible. So don't hesitate to hit star five and to go up on the screen here. And we can unmute you and bring you into the conversation. Knowing there's a lot of people working from home, you might have some background noise, you can always just email me any questions directly. Aaron And we'll address the questions that way as well, we want to get as many answered as possible. And so with that, I'm gonna go ahead and you know, kind of jump into it. Like I was saying, just before we kind of started to kick this off this mission driven approach, when we think about different ways that brands are able to, you know, capitalize on the good things that they're doing that are out there. And we got some great friends, great partners of the network, over at Sezzle. And they're a certified B Corp, which is awesome. And then we also have some, you know, friends on the line today, Terry from Prima and Nate from Frank And Oak. And so we're just going to have an all around great, fun discussion as a whole. So, again, if you want to jump in his star five, or email me any questions you might have along the way, but I'm gonna kick it off first. You know, with you, Veronica, if you want to do a brief intro on yourself, and Sezzle that'll be awesome. Then we can take it over to Teri and then we can take it over to Nate, sound good? 


Veronica Katz  2:37  

Sounds great. And thank you, as always really enjoy these companies, particularly these calls but I'm particularly looking forward to it was such a great group of companies on board for the discussion. So I'm Veronica Katz. I'm the Chief Revenue Officer for Sezzle. We are a buy now pay later company and proud to have just announced about a month ago our B Corp certification. So it's a pleasure to be here today. 


Aaron Conant  3:03  

Awesome, Teri. I'll kick it over to you. 


Teri Levy  3:05  

Awesome. I'm Teri from Prima. I am the head of digital marketing and eCommerce and Prima is kind of touted as the Patagonia of CBD. We are putting a line in the sand when it comes to sustainability and practice.


Aaron Conant  3:26  

Just a little bit so we can jump back. Next you know, Nate will kick it over to you if you want to jump in.


Nate Jones  3:33  

Sure. Good morning or afternoon, everyone. My name is Nate Jones. I'm the head of merchandising omni channel retail at Frank And Oak, which is a lifestyle apparel retail that was founded in Montreal, Canada in 2012. So we're nine years old. We're a certified B Corp, and a leader in sustainable fashion. We use innovative fabrics from nature and we're thoughtful about the ecosystem of our environment. Everything we do. We have 11 stores in Canada, as well as being digitally native. And then we are excited. We're opening two stores in New York this fall. We're about 50/50, men's, men's and women's and over 75% of our products are sustainable. So this is a fun conversation for us to have. And I'm happy to be here. 


Aaron Conant  4:24

Yeah. Awesome. And I'm going, Teri, I can see your back. If you want to pick up where super interesting comments, the Patagonia of CBD you want to pick up there, that'd be awesome. 


Teri Levy  4:37  

Yeah. The benefits of you know, work from home and like, bandwidth, but yeah, sorry about that. Somehow my cell phone just dropped. We're actually a newer brand we've been around. We're celebrating our two year anniversary this year, when the brand started It was in its core mission to be sustainable from the get go. Our Co-founder, Christopher Gavigan, who comes is a Co-founder of the Honest Company, and has a long history with sustainability, clean living. He wrote the book, Healthy Child, Healthy World. He was from that nonprofit, he started that nonprofit in the 90s. And he just knew when he was starting Prima, that we are, it is our duty to do if we're taking resources from the earth, like the plants, which is cannabis, we need to set up our brand to embrace the positive in a positive contribution to a thriving planet, for the future generations to come. And so we're B corp with Climate Neutral. And last week, we just announced we are plastic negative. So it's a core foundation of our brand to be sustainable.


Aaron Conant  5:57  

Also some of the things, and thank Teri and Veronica. I want to jump into a little bit around the kind of the thought pattern behind it. Because, you know, it seems like this grandiose idea, right. And it's very noble and to go down the path, but there's also the flip side of number one, what do you focus on? Right, and you know, your company mission and what you focus on? But then, you know, internally like, what is the impact on the overall organization? Right? You may be giving up things, maybe it's profitability, maybe it's marketing channels. Maybe yeah, I don't know. I'd love to hear, you know, Nate, I'll kick it off with you first, and then we can jump to Veronica, and then over to Teri, but Nate you kind of go down that path, like if you wanted to say, Hey, this is our mission, and, you know, how did you? How did you get there? And then how did you balance, you know, that as a business model as a whole? 


Nate Jones  7:06  

That's a good question. My career is actually pretty interesting, because I have my whole career, which is about 10/11 years. I started with some big retailers, Macy's, department stores, and then Walmart eCommerce before my experience at Frank And Oak. And I can tell you that my entire career, the environmental impact of the fashion industry and how it's one of the worst contributors to, particularly in areas like China and in the east, where a lot of the supply chain is it always been a topic of discussion and the closer I've gotten to supply chain, but as the ease and speed of information has increased, and people have been forced to be more transparent about everything that everybody does, because everybody has a phone, everybody has access to, you know, all the news at any given time. Those conversations, really in the last couple of years increasingly, in a major way. So I think being part of a brand that has been kind of a leader in that it's, I would say the first thing and you know, I would I would definitely want to get the others take on this the first thing for us because we do we make goods, you know, we make clothing, was looking at our suppliers and the fabrics and the thing that we use and what it does to our margin, because you can get really inexpensive, when really, you can you can scale down cost a lot when you're using inexpensive versions of cotton or woven polyester fabrics that are masked and readily available. But when you're trying to use fabric from a Catholic country, you know, it's harder to get and it's harder to weave into your E anymore, and it does raise the cost of your goods. And then you have to make a decision about being transparent with your consumer about what that does to the cost of the apparel and are they willing to pay that and for some, for some people in my industry, it's prohibitive. And for but I think for Frank And Oak, because inspiring, better living has kind of been our motto from the beginning. It hasn't been a barrier it hasn't shown elasticity, it's actually an incentive for our customer because you know conscious conscious consumption and the way that particularly a younger, either younger millennial, I would say millennial and younger Gen Z all of everybody is so it's become much more conscious and much more interested in the entire circularity of of the things that they put on my body. So but I would say definitely is something that we've had to consider. And it's now then part of its moved from it started from fabrics and the way we created our products to every aspect of the organization including how we format our retail stores. You want to jump in? And then I want to kick it over to Veronica to Yeah, because then we have a service, you know, side and we got, you know, tons of different brands on the line today. Just reminder, if people have questions, you only want to jump in and ask anything. You know, feel free to hit star five or email them to me. But yeah, Teri, I'd love to hear your thoughts on this space. As a whole Thanks.


Teri Levy 10:21  

Yeah, consumers are becoming more conscious and aware of the brands, ethos, and brands, philosophies, and want to get behind brands and spend their money with brands that they align with. And so we know that everything we do, every product we make has an impact. And it's really our duty to reimagine how that has can, how we can leave the earth better. And so as with soprema, you know, it's just our responsibility to prioritize human health and safety, environmental responsibility, impact on social, ethical and human rights and animal welfare. So building a brand today, consumers are demanding that it impacts cogs, for sure. Bottom line, but that's a business decision that you have to make. And over time, we've been able to make Gosh, in the past year, we've been able to optimize and mitigate some of those costs. But you know, since we're a younger brand and starting out, it is important as we're reaching new consumers, that they're, they feel like they're aligned with the brand. And especially since it's a plant like plant based product, it's super important that we use organic farms, small batch, there's transparency and testing. So that all impacts the cogs. And if there's ever an opportunity to pass through the savings through through new consumer, we will always do that. But it definitely makes it a little bit more premium when you're going from the foundation of sustainability and implementing these practices.


Aaron Conant  12:10  

Yeah, and I would you know, Veronica, if you want to jump in here, as well, I know you guys chose for those of you who've joined just in the in the past five or 10 minutes, just having an awesome conversation around mission driven approaches, and, you know, great friends and partners of the network over at at Sezzle gray supporters. They're a buy now pay later solution. So there's tons of different transactions taking place, but they're also a certified B Corp, and interact with a ton of, you know, B Corp in this space as a whole as well, you know, right here, like what you're seeing in this space as well. I mean, there is I mean, Nate and Teri said, Hey, this is an impact, right financial impact. But you know, what's the upside is? Well, and what's upside? Are you seeing because I know you guys deal with tons and tons of brands?


Veronica Katz  12:57  

Yeah, absolutely. Um, well, first, when they say, Sezzle has been, as you know, a very mission driven company since day one. And for folks in the audience that might be a little less familiar with by now pay later. It's really this mega trend as you have younger consumers, adopting credit cards less and less frequently, and showing a preference to not using credit cards. And our company really was born out of the mission, that we wanted to help financially empower the next generation, we wanted to do, do we want to provide the ability for people to make purchases without getting individuals in debt, charging interest, we don't charge interest in our core products, and really helping to educate consumers, they can be smarter in their purchasing lifecycle. So we're not opposed to credit. But we want people to be able to purchase this smartly. You know, unlike myself or others, when they were younger, getting credit cards and getting over their skis and debt, we want to be really thoughtful in introducing and helping people build credit. That's how all of our products are designed. We provide tools to help people budget and manage their money. And it's a very attractive way to pay particularly for Gen Z and millennial show. This is a quick baseline. So for us, it was really the right thing to do as a part of an evolution in our DNA to become a B Corp. But we've always been very mission driven and I think it goes to the heart of your question. At plus percent of these 80% of customers say that it's more important to them to shop and pay with brands that are aligned with their social values. So if you're looking to bring younger consumers into your fold, they will seek out these brands they trust and B Corp is kind of the highest high bar there for for a real certification independent from the same Socially good is a real accreditation that you're walking the talk, and consumers care about that. So I find that, you know, brands that we work with that are B Corps do extraordinarily well with these younger consumers. And yes, there are trade offs, that companies will make decisions to put social good over profits, but ultimately, because there's such a high demand and interest in pays off of these businesses and other ways,


Aaron Conant  15:35  

Is there, so I'll kick this over to Nate. You know, just a question that comes in around, you know, is it challenging to prioritize, you know, this mission driven approach and social good within the organization as a whole? You know, how do you address that? 


Nate Jones  15:54

I think it depends on the organization, you're lucky for us, we were built sort of as a with a young entrepreneurial mindset at a time when that was starting to become just a little bit of a buzzword. And I think one thing that I would say, to kind of piggyback a little bit off a bit during grad course, and you said that we would be mission driven, and we would be what you without even the certified be for the for the certification, you know, we would, it would part of our, our core DNA and the culture of our company is that we want to do social good. And it's the people that work for our company are our evangelists. And it filters down to our social media, and it filters down to our customer and our customer loyalty scores and our net promoter scores and things that we evaluate on a daily, weekly, monthly business, to the health of our organization outside of just profit, because obviously, everybody wants to make money. And, you know, when you're a smaller non-public company, you want to be making enough money to spur more growth within your company without outside funding. So those are all obviously, as you know, being a business person behind everything, everything we do, we have to make the metrics work and the KPIs. But we would be mission driven. Despite that, and I think actually, it's becoming more standard than it is not. Even though it is very much, particularly for my industry, but even though it is very much a trend and it is buzz worthy, you know, like you have all of the biggest brands in the world signing up to make commitment to social good and sustainability. But it's nice to have, it is nice to have a set of checkmarks outside of just environmentalism, like a certified bee that helps you understand, like, for a schedule, where you're not actually know, your environmental impact of a story of software service is is minimal to have these other checks and balances, that can prove that you are socially good company. And then you're adding it helps orient you and at the end of the day, you've got to, it's a hard thing to balance profit. But with all of these social good that you want to do, and environmental good that you want to do. But I think it's a huge thing for customer and employee engagement actually helps us attract employees, talent, as well as by doing so.


Veronica Katz  18:27  

Kind of second work, Nathan is saying because as you building a brand or brand new purpose driven, you know, having the B Corp, you're kind of walking the walk and talking the talk, and it's a validation on everything that you do, you stand behind, and it does attract talent that's interested in aligning themselves with an organization that is aligned with their values. And so it becomes part of the brand's DNA, that everything you do is purpose driven. And you look through, I mean, at least a premium, we look through the look through marketing through that lens. You know, we're not just marketing to market we are of service to our customers and providing them with products that help them relieve stress. And so it's really important that we as purpose driven business, have something to validate it.


Aaron Conant  19:27  

Yeah. What are any KPIs? Like, how do you measure, you know, success? Right? Because he said it, it can't be straight profitability. I mean, I mean, near like, nail and you run a company, there needs to be, you know, pay for itself at the end of the day. But then, it's more than just net profits, like how are you? You know, how are you measuring success? You know, what are the metrics that you use, and then I want to kind of get into some, hey, you know, this is how we approach different things over the past 12 months. Especially during COVID, right? But anyways, I was like, What are some metrics this year that you're using?


Nate Jones  20:07

I can jump in. There are tangible ones obviously, like in there sort of some that are a little bit less tangible. But really consumer engagement and employee engagement are at the top of my list because we, you know, we, we measure a net promoter score, which is a, a score of brands that essentially through surveys, when customers come to our websites, I don't know how many people are familiar with it, if everybody uses it or not, but I'll just briefly explain score out of 10. Anybody, you know, on whether or not they would recommend our website to other people or our products to other people, if they score above a seven, we call them a promoter, if they score below, they're either neutral or a detractor. And the goal is to get, you know, everybody to be a promoter. And so we're constantly looking at that. And we know that that's, that's one that is around being mission driven, because the consumer sentiment and the questions that we get, you know, we have retail stores, and we just did a big survey of our top customers and, and how we can serve them better, particularly just coming out of the pandemic and reopening some stores. And, you know, they wanted even more transparency around where did we get this fabric? You know, where's our where our products go? What are the factories like? How can they contact and like this, the amount of transparency and the amount of desire for our customers to be even more in the loop about where we're producing goods, and how and those are some of the things driving our scores up, because we are very transparent. But if we're not trying to be, you know, the less we are, the less we tell them, and the less we're open about those things, the more that they are down. Same thing with our packaging, you know, if we're using poly bags and plastic and putting a lot of plastic in the bag, we've reduced all of our packaging to just only include the product and a return label. And we're moving away from plastic, like a poly bag to a biodegradable packaging this year. And, and that was something that's come out from what our customers so the more we do that and more of those scores go up. And it's the same thing internally, you know, we've talked about where our supply chain comes from. And we've talked about, you know, how our fixtures and stores are made, and our our employees are asking us to, you know, make changes to be even more sustainable, or even more minimal and those approaches. And so if there's some tangible elements of that, like the engagement scores of our employee engagement scores of our customers, but then as well as the top and bottom line, and then I would also say, our social media and our, our the engagement that we get, there are good ways to track that. But you know, we don't have we don't have enough, one thing that our branding team is looking at is like, what, besides the certifications and staying on top of those, and we're constantly looking for new ways to just engage to talk about I think it's something that is worth a conversation about how we can particularly look at those types of scores, or those types of metrics, even closer level, because we have a lot of data about our customer, but we could we would love more just on that particular topic for sure. 


Aaron Conant  23:23

Yeah. Veronica, from your standpoint? Yeah, jump in. Yeah, I'd love to hear your thoughts. 


Veronica Katz  23:25

Yeah, I was gonna say, for us it’s a little different. We’re digital, or we don't have stores. We're not packaging products. So our approach is a little difference. I should probably share that. Before I tell you the KPIs for us, you know, wanting to financially empower this next generation, we invest heavily in tools. We in products that help do that we invest in financial literacy. We've launched something called Sezzle University. We help people in their journey where they're their co-pilot, if you will, as they're becoming credit builders, and educating themselves about how to navigate finances without getting over their skis. And I think a common theme and what I heard, is the transparency piece being really transparent, in an industry that hasn't always come across as being transparent. And we do other things. Because when we think about what's it mean to financially empower the next generation? You know, we really took some hard spot at that and said, you know, part of making sure that this next generation isn't burdened financially. It also comes back in making sure we're leaving a good footprint for this next generation to live in, right? How can we help and put back everything we can in the next generations favor. And so we started doing things like a beyond financial literacy and tools and the scholarships that we do. We started doing things like planting a tree for every new user that joins our platform is one of the things we kicked off broadly. We started that at first with a partnership at the very cool B Corp, and then launched it ourselves for all consumers. So when you think about the KPIs to measure our business, it's things like what's our sentiment analysis, we can see the negative and positive comments on social media and in different forms of against us and our competitors. How are we doing? How are people talking about us? We have naturally can see adoption, things like planting a tree for every new user is very easy to see how those could be metrics to measure. So we're looking at engagement, are people using our tools? are we helping them get to the next place in their journey? are we helping them make smart financial decisions? So we measure things like that, in addition to any of the things that have been mentioned? 


Aaron Conant  25:59

Oh, yeah, no, jump in. Yeah, we'd love to hear that a couple more questions that popped in. 


Teri Levy 26:03

Yeah, so it's actually interesting, because Prima takes, we don't have tangible KPIs. But some of the ways that we are measuring it internally is by we have a better man program, which is giving where we support charity. So that is one probably way that we measured. We also have tracking on how products are impacting the climate. And there's a scorecard that we have, we take customer feedback, for example, we heard from our customers that one of our packages was wasteful. And so we transferred to like a smaller size that was more economical, but also, there's more cost savings for the customer. And we always want to pass through that cost savings to the customer. And then also for soprema, we sourced responsibly. So that is another measurement that we kind of track like where we're sourcing from and, and there's a scorecard for that. So we take a lot, we also do customer surveys, customer surveys, as well as employee surveys to kind of gauge sentiment and our better rewards program, which is our loyalty program has some baked in practices for our customers that kind of gauge their affinity towards our sustainability practices, and our giving programs.


Aaron Conant  27:37  

Are there any like very specific things you've done, and then we can kick this over to Nate and Veronica, during you know, the past 14 months, because what we've seen is, you know, as people were, you know, kind of forced into really addressing digital as a whole, in, you know, in a lot of cases, you know, rethinking how they are approaching what's important, not only to their business, but also to their customer, who are they going to go after, and yet it's at this really like disruptive time. So being most of the staff were incredibly quickly, but also, you know, a time where, you know, there's a lot of turmoil, right? Is there anything like it? How did you address, you know, any cool programs you did during the past 14 months during the pandemic? You know, and Teri, I'll kick it off with you, and then we can take it over to Nate andVeronica.


Teri Levy  28:30  

Yeah, we've done a lot of work around like DI, and, and reinforcing that without consumers and which, and reinforcing our betterment. And that we're not, we're not just in a, you know, we're in this to be profitable, obviously, but that bring our community together to understand that we're doing is for the greater good. And that's where they put their dollars kind of speak. So there's just more spin on the social and email side, that we're just reinforcing our brand values, and bringing more people in to align with them. And it's actually worked really well for us in the past year.


Aaron Conant  29:12  

Awesome. I'll kick it over to Nate. Anything like in particular, you were like, Hey, we felt that we needed to do this. So the past, you know, 12 to 14 months, and yeah, in here were the benefits from it, or Hey, maybe it didn't work. Dude, love to hear your thoughts on that. 


Nate Jones  29:27

Yeah, no, it's interesting to hear what you know, what affects that get a pandemic that has had on everybody, whether despite what you're good or services is good or services. For us, it was kind of every element of the organization. We as a digitally native company. So I guess I'll just mention three things. As a digitally native company, we got into stores five or six years ago, and we had as many retail locations as 29 at one point in Canada, and we The approach at the time that we took to building out a store, I would just say, I wasn't part of the organization at that time. But it wasn't the same as we were around the way we were approaching our products, which was with a very fine tooth comb and making sure that the impact the product, the fabrics, and the companies we were partnering with, to create work, were all on the level. And with it with a store, we were, we were we were getting into really big boxes that cost us a lot of money. And there was no, there's a lot of that was just sunk capital that we were throwing at it. So one thing we've done is we've we were forced to book closed doors during the pandemic, for a brief amount of time, and some permanently, was that we re looked at our store profile and our store profile the future. And we really wanted it to fit the same way we approached product and our brand and the collaborations that and the partners that we bring on, we've like a Sezzle, you know, other certified B Corps, etc. And what we've done is we've basically built a model, that the store testing model that the short term model that leverages boxes in communities that are already existing and have a sort of representative nature of what the communities that our customers live in, and the fixturing. And the build, and the construction that we put in is it minimal approach just like our brand, and reusable and sustainable. And so if we want to move out of that box, we don't leave a lot of impact, we're able to take it with us. And that's something that we're really excited to launch this fall. And so and that's one thing we did source, the second thing is we re looked at completely at our denim, because denim was a hard category to keep it's one of the worst kept worst categories for sustainability, the amount of water, you use the amount of ink and die. And so we're launching a circular, we've launched a circular denim program, we've completely revamped our suppliers, and that category two, one that is already focused on sustainability. And we're heavily we haven't got there yet, but we're heavily looking at up upcycling and recycling program with some other partners that are in sustainable B Corp space. But I guess the broader answer, broad sweeping answer to that question is we looked at everything, and not just from a Profitability and Cost efficiency standpoint, but from what will our customer that loves us that is an evangelist of our brand. Expect us to do going forward. And so it's really filtered down to all aspects of the organization. But those are just a couple thoughts.


Aaron Conant  32:45

Veronica, on your side any like things that you guys took a step back and did and then I got another question that comes in that I want to tackle as well.


Veronica Katz  32:54  

Absolutely. Well, on the consumer front, when COVID hit, one of the first things I'd probably say is we made a decision to allow consumers that were greatly impacted to to have free reschedules of their payments. So we immediate allows people to, you know, delay payments to us. This is also around the time we were watching a lot of the tools that I've been talking about products, I won't go into the things I've already mentioned. But as the year was continuing, in addition to free reschedules we launched our scholarship, we also as we approached holiday in lieu of giving gifts you know, a lot of big companies will give physical gifts to their merchants. We decided instead to translate anything we would have done in gifts into donations to charities that needed it the most right. So things like I'm sponsoring a family locally in Minnesota, but also more broadly. No Kid Hungry, YMCA, Make a Wish. So we we instead of getting you know packaged or sending out gift baskets in this case, we we decided to really double down and share it and then on the consumer side, even our holiday promotions and more of the marketing angles was around actually the name of our campaign was save the holidays meaning it was a terrible year 2020. So let's do something to make this holiday season more fun, really gamified it but we gave cash prizes to our customers, to our consumers at a time when we felt they needed the most. Back on the employee's front, we shifted to a hybrid work policy we've announced that go forward in post COVID lessening our footprint even more we signed with Climate Neutral so that we would be a certified carbon neutral by this summer. And we've continued to focus in there on those other things we've done, but those are some of the highlights that come to mind. Oh, I'd be remiss there's actually one of my favorites is we partnered with Ministry of Supply to get about 250,000 starter kits for people trying to get back to work that needed clothes for interviews


Aaron Conant  35:09  

That’s awesome. I mean, yeah, one thing that comes to mind too, is you're, you're, you're, it's unique, right? Because, but so you partner, right with companies, right? Like, like, like premium. Right? you partner with companies. But still, at the end of the day, at the end of the day, the consumer is also your customer as well, right, because they're using you as a platform. And so you have to satisfy a unique way. Yeah, it's worth it.


Veronica Katz  35:44  

Yeah sorry, we had consumers and merchants as our customers, so we have an opportunity to deliver on both sides of that equation.


Aaron Conant  35:53  

Super neat. And now, you know, we've had we've had, you know, people join in, we're just over halfway through just having a great conversation around mission driven approach. You know, it says, How can we increase DTC sales and profitability as a whole, and just different tactics in the way mission driven companies that are out there, and some great friends and partners of the network are looking at this as a whole. But, you know, I'll kick it over. I mean, you are all-- Prima, Frank And Oak, Sezzle. You're all certified B Corp. If there's the Why did you choose that? I want to tackle that question. Because, you know, we've had enough keep more people join? Why did you choose that? And then what does it mean, in layman's terms? Right? How do you how do you look at it? And then another question that comes in after that, then obviously, you know, others that have joined, if you have specific questions you'd like me to ask you hit star phi, which unmute you and bring you in, or you can always just email me Aaron and we'll we'll tackle him that way. But Veronica, I'll kick it to you first, and then we'll go to Teri, and then we'll go to Nate. 


Veronica Katz  37:06  

Sure. There's about 3900 certified B Corps. And we've always been mission driven. So in practical terms, we were already doing them right. You know, really focused on social good from day one. But as we continued our journey, and we became a public benefits core, we became eligible to start applying for B Corp certification, we decided that was important because, as you know, the highest star of an external group, it's not just yourself and your own self reporting, it's really, you know, holding ourselves to the highest standard that was important to us to do, we felt it was the right thing to do that the core values aligned with ours. We also think it's a clear differentiator for us there are no other fin tech companies that are find out that is in not just buy now pay later, but in fin tech, that I'm aware of that are the core. And you know, we really felt this was an important choice for us because it was so aligned to our mission. So and having that third party kind of check and balance and affirmation that we were on the right path was important. 


Aaron Conant  38:25

Teri, why did you choose it? 


Teri Levy  38:28

Because validated our core standards of the brand to be the highest standard of social environmental performance, transparency and accountability. And so the court was made sense for Prima, we are the highest scoring the courts, for any hemp CBD brands. So it was just very important for Prima, as the CBD space is emerging, consumers are confused that we need to set ourselves apart by becoming the core by kind of raising the bar in the industry of what what it should be, especially at a time of an emerging industry that is supersaturated, super confusing. And so just having a B Corp certification kind of validates and sets the bar for Prima. 


Aaron Conant  39:27  

Yeah, it made me think too, as you think about just go back, you know, 10 years, we're not a ton of eCommerce being done in that the consumer selection was very limited by what made it onto store shelves. Well, now we've got the endless digital shelf right and anybody can be out there. How do you stand out on that? How are you differentiating yourself from everybody else that's out there. And it's so much more important, especially, you know, even now than it was even a year ago at this time is you know, did you celebrate five to 10 years down the road. So I'm going to kick it over to Nate next would love to hear, you know how you guys got to that point how you chose it. And then the the flip side of that is you kind of wrap that one up is How are you? How are you balancing purpose and profit? Right. I mean, those are I mean, you'd brought that up early on, I want to kind of circle back to that is your company. Right? That should be some profit. 


Nate Jones  40:27

So to answer the first question, I'll, I'll be brief because I think that Veronica and Teri answered it in a great way. But I will say, from the fashion industry standpoint, if you Google, just like fashion, sustainability certification, there are 35 to 40 different organizations, you could sign up for join. There, it becomes overwhelming, and what do they all mean? I mean, they're all have great promises, you know, we're part of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation. And, you know, there's the Fair Trade Organization, Fashion Acts Now, Fashion Takes Action, Global Shapers Community, there are a million different places where you can, you know, build your promise to be mission driven. I think the high standards for one certifies the, it's more than just our product, for instance, that was another one, it was basically saying we are a organization that wants to stand for purpose in all aspects of our organization, that was another. And I think it was important that we understood, you know, that we wanted it to be something that we could track and have to our earlier conversations, KPIs around and something that we needed to sustain in order to be a part of it. And so that, I think sort of certified B has been a great thing for us in that regard. And hopefully, it continues to do so. And the second piece, this is the crux right of the entire conversation is all three of our organizations, you know, we still have to make money, we have to expand we have to drive profit to sustain ourselves as well. And I can't speak for everyone, but I would say that the balance of, of driving profit and, and still balancing the, you know, the mission driven approach and the sustainability is, in some ways, it's difficult in other ways, it's, it's, it actually makes the process easier. Because the way I would say that, it's easier is when you're narrowed to your scope of work, we're going to do xy and z, but it has to be under these parameters, you know, we don't bounce out of those parameters. And so we look for partners that are under those parameters as well. We educate and teach our customer that maybe we don't add a bell and whistle to a piece of product, because, you know, it's our carbon footprint, or it's, you can't recycle it or this or that. So we might under we don't over design our products for some of that reason. And we design products that might last longer and have more of a product lifecycle. And those things actually get the customer more excited to try this brand loyalty of drives, repeat buys, it drives long term value. So the loyalty and repeat nature of our customers actually, we don't have to pay it, you know, we, I mean, everybody has marketing spend that they have. But there are metrics to being purpose driven, that drive high loyalty to a consumer base that are extremely valuable in doing so and drive sort of an evangelist of your brand and kind of a cult nature of we love this brand because it stands for XYZ. And now a generation of people who are completely not brand loyal due to the Zara’s and H&M o the world are becoming hyper brand loyal, and spending more money with one brand. Because decisions we make around profitability or around sustainability, excuse me, and therefore, you know, in that regard, it makes the profitability aspect more achievable. Whereas maybe we don't make as much margin because we're not using the scale of certain fibers or fabric categories where we could get them for cheaper, we're saving it on the customer loyalty. So there is a balance. And you know, I'm sure each of us could go off for, you know, 20 minutes talking about how in different areas of organization, we're saving in one area and spending more on another. But that's one example where it works in our benefit. 


Aaron Conant  44:35

I love it. I mean, it's the passion in this space as well, which I think is a key part of it. Yeah, Veronica seems like you wanted to jump in there as well.


Veronica Katz  44:43  

Well, I was just gonna echo and say that I read the study last June that global consumers are four times more likely to purchase for a brand that has a strong sense of purpose. So I do believe that there are sometimes trade-offs in profitability that You might make short term and you can't be all things to all people. So you have to be very targeted on what you can do. Just because you're a B Corp. We're not nonprofits, right? So there are limits. But long term, those smart investments if you stay true to your company mission and values, and do you make decisions that benefit your business long term, because consumers do value this now, kind of second grab and think of the investment that you're making into your organization that will carry you long term that the consumer will become more loyal, and bring in new new consumers because of your investment into your sustainability practices.


Aaron Conant  45:46  

Oh, 100%, it's, it's also, I mean, if you're just getting started, you know, maybe, or a company, you've been around for a while, and this is a new, a new approach. There's almost like that time that you have to hold your breath to say, Hey, this is the right thing to do for long term, but upfront, there's going to be some impact on profitability. And we're in a trust that the end game that the consumer is going to value that, right, more than more than necessarily the money that's eating their hand, it's a fun place to play. And I think that's why this topic came up so often. Brands or companies as a whole are grappling with it,  across the board. You know, that being said, you know, let's go Teri then Nathan, Veronica, like, what advice do you have for other companies looking to get started, you know, with sustainability, mission driven, you know, social good programs,


Teri Levy  46:53  

I mean, if you're an established brand is to really being honest, and not jumping on the bandwagon. I do think every brand has a responsibility to especially CPG brands have a responsibility to have some sustainability. But it has to be completely authentic and transparent. And you've got to walk the walk the walk, right? If you're, if you're going to make some blanket a statement that you're, I don't know, carbon neutral, you have to put the work in. And I think consumers can see that. And that's what cute consumers except, and so you really have to internally kind of be aligned and stick to it.


Aaron Conant  47:37  

Awesome. Okay, get over to Nate.


Nate Jones  47:40

Yeah, I can't remember if it was Teri or Veronica, that said it, but they nailed it on the head. You can't try to be everything to everyone. So what you know, it goes back to whatever your brand values are, what your brand purpose was from beginning and try to marry that to something that I think makes sense for you. You know, if you have the scale of a Coca Cola, you could do a lot of things, but what could have the most impact, whereas if you are just starting out, you could choose anything, you know, but you're you'd be you don't have the resources, but you could be spread so thin from the beginning that your message gets muddled. So I would say be hyper focused on what is in the DNA of your company, and then start there and be and be super diligent about accomplishing that one thing and doing it really well. And then maybe you can expand from there.


Aaron Conant  48:32  

I love it. 


Veronica Katz  48:34

Well. I would just add that well, B Corp is the goldstar. You don't have to be a B Corp to do social good. And every company no matter where they're at can start with small steps. Sometimes it's minor adjustments that can save on the environment or make a difference in people's lives. And consumers to echo Teri see through kind of shallow marketing, you really have to take action, don't just take talk. So make sure that your actions that you're following through with what you say you're going to do. And it's not coming across as you're just saying this to jump on the bandwagon or it's a marketing ploy because consumers are smarter than that.


Aaron Conant  49:13  

Yeah. So then the last thing is just going to be kind of key takeaways as a whole. Nate, I want to kick it over to you first, and then Teri, then I'll kick it back to Veronica but they like key takeaways for people on the line today. 


Nate Jones  49:25

Oh, well, I think we talked a lot about what being certified means. I think that was a good comment just made it and I I made it when I was talking about what we were trying to do is that as a customer, as a consumer myself, I am you know in an older millennial, I would I would reference myself as that I would say that I look for for companies and brands that are purpose driven. But that doesn't necessarily mean that they are an environmentally focused or completely sustainable, but having No, I think it is very clear in being in the consumer space that having a purpose and being mission driven is how people become loyal to a company. And there's a hyper competitive space, obviously. And so that would be one takeaway. I think. The second takeaway is that we all would all agree that it's the agent of being super transparent about what you're doing and why you're doing it. And consumers understand if you're doing it to check a box, versus doing it, doing something doing social good. Because it's core to your brand DNA. And when it comes to, we're all we're all trying to run a successful business, I think it's really important that you look at the things that you can do and the things that you can't do. And there are trade offs. And I think Teri said that, you know, there are trade offs that you have to make. And you can't be everything to everyone, but to be hyper focused on what your brand stands for what your company stands for. It is quite a good place to start for that. I know, we've talked about a million other things. 


Aaron Conant  51:10

Teri, to you, and you know, then we can kick it quick over to Veronica, and yeah, wrap it up here.


Teri Levy  51:18  

I think it's all about transparency. And consumers expect that especially what happened last year, you know, in June with the, with the riots all over the US. There were some outfall of that, that brands were impacted by their response or their non response. So it's just brand new to listen to consumers and be completely transparent. Because when you're not, it will come back to her view. And if you're moving down the sustainability path, it has to come across as an authentic move, as opposed to jumping on a bandwagon and checking a box. Consumers are smart. They know they know that. In fact, in the day, when clean beauty was like kind of starting out, there was a thing called greenwashing and a lot of like bigger CPG brands jumped on and greenwash. It's the same thing here. It's like sustainability washing, like, you have to really walk the walk the talk,


Aaron Conant  52:21  

Awesome. Veronica, I’ll kind of kick it over to you as we wrap it up here.


Veronica Katz  52:25  

Yeah, I would say that, yes, there might be some short term impact on profit. But that company should really believe and understand that consumers prefer mission driven brands, and that, you know, particularly younger consumers 90% of Gen Z believe companies must act, to help on social and environmental issues, their studies after studies about how sustainable brands are growing faster. So I would say believe and take a leap and start small that every company can do social good, to be transparent, be authentic, and be good.


Aaron Conant  53:07  

Awesome. And with that, I think we're going to wrap it up a few minutes short of the hour. Once again, thanks to everybody who's able to submit questions today. Thanks, Teri. Thanks, Nate. Thanks, Veronica, for being such great friends and partners to the network. I mean, if anybody's looking for more information at all, you know the team that says all those great friends and partners as a whole and support as a network more than happy to connect you with more as you'd like to know more about them and the buy now pay later and then how they're helping brands and a socially responsible way, increase conversions and sale at checkout. So with that, I'm going to wrap it up. Hope everybody has a fantastic Friday, a great rest of the week. Everybody stay safe, take care and afford to have you on a future event. Thanks again, everybody.

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BWG Connect provides executive strategy & networking sessions that help brands from any industry with their overall business planning and execution. BWG has built an exclusive network of 125,000+ senior professionals and hosts over 2,000 virtual and in-person networking events on an annual basis.
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