Many small business owners are realizing that they can be greener and still make a profit. They’re adding eco-friendly products or looking into sustainable practices they can incorporate into existing businesses. Other small business owners begin their businesses with eco-friendly practices in mind. REVEAL is one business that began with an eco-friendly idea.
Terry and Jiaying Omata, who founded REVEAL, were inspired to create eco-friendly fashion accessories and handbags after backpacking through Asia, South America and Africa, where they met many people living in impoverished conditions who were struggling to create a more comfortable life for their families. They realized that this desire would add additional demand for the earth’s already diminishing resources and decided to create sustainable fashion. REVEAL believes that being eco-friendly means more than creating a line of eco-friendly handbags, though. This company believes in using sustainable methods for manufacturing and eco-friendly corporate practices as well.
The folks at REVEAL were able to set aside some time to talk about running an eco-friendly small business and have some great tips for anyone who is thinking about starting a sustainable small business.
What Do You Like Most About Owning an Eco-Friendly Small Business?
“We love coming up with ideas and designing innovative, unique products that people have not seen before. People are truly impressed when they see our gorgeous recycled bags, our bamboo accessories and other products. We love the challenge of finding new ways to design and make cool fashion accessories, it’s a bit like Project Runway! Working with other companies and individuals with the same interest in creating fun products and protecting the environment is also wonderful. Collaboration is key. We couldn’t do it without a great team supporting us.”
What Do You Wish You Knew Before Starting a Sustainable Small Business?
“Entrepreneurship is all about the journey. Especially when you’re aiming to create products that are truly different. I could list a lot of things that I wish I knew before I started, however, we choose not to focus on that. We’d rather just focus on enjoying the fact that we’re always learning something new.”
How Is REVEAL Helping the Environment?
“We make our products from environmentally friendly materials that are 100% cruelty free. We use recycled materials whenever possible. When using virgin materials, we make our best efforts to use those that are non-polluting, renewable resources. Our gorgeous Fall/Winter handbags are made of recycled satin and recycled micro suede. We did our Spring/Summer line in sustainable materials like hemp and jute. Our wooden accessories are made of either bamboo or recycled furniture parts.
Our packaging and our website also aim to make it very easy for people to understand what our products are made of and why they are eco-friendly. The concept of REVEAL came from the idea of revealing how our products are made and empowering people to make better choices. People appreciate the concept because it is similar to a food’s nutrition label. They feel good that they have more information in a way that is easy to understand.”
(For examples of REVEAL’s sustainable methods, visit their sustainability section and take a look at the photos of their hangtags.)
What Made You Realize You Could Earn a Living and Still Promote Sustainable Business Practices?
“When we went backpacking around the world. Connecting with people from all different places and cultures makes you realize how important it is to protect the environment. Everyone benefits from protecting the environment.”
Do the Majority of Your Customers Come to You Because You Have a Green Company?
“People certainly like the fact that we are aiming to do things better. However, people also buy our products simply because they like the design, they like the way the products look and function. It’s not possible to depend solely on the fact that we’re eco-friendly to draw customers; you can’t expect people to sacrifice fashion and functionality for something that is eco-friendly. In order for there to be real change, we as entrepreneurs/business owners need to help make it easier for people to make more environmentally friendlier choices.
“People mostly don’t have the time to research environmentally friendly products, so our packaging concepts helps inform and empower people. In addition, people love our REPLANT program because it is so tangible and allows people to feel like they are making a difference. For every product sold, we plant a tree. We have a partnership with American Forests, the oldest non-profit conservation organization in the U.S. to replant native trees in damaged ecosystems.”
Does REVEAL Have Any Plans to Become More Eco-Friendly or Sustainable in the Future?
“We are always looking for new ways to become more environmentally friendly, from the materials and manufacturing processes we use to the causes we support. We can always find ways to improve how we make things and we will always challenge ourselves to do so.”
Sustainable small businesses like REVEAL show entrepreneurs that are interested in creating a green company that it is possible to be kind to the earth and turn a profit. Or, as REVEAL says, “Finally, you don’t have to choose between fashion and a better planet.”