Archive for October, 2012

Fairware Innovators Ranked Among Top Women Canadian Entrepreneurs

October 23, 2012

Denise Taschereau and Sarah White in their Vancouver office.

The co-founders of Fairware – a growing BC company based in Vancouver – are being recognized as two of Canada’s most successful, creative and business-savvy women entrepreneurs.

On October 1, Fairware’s Chief Executive Officer Denise Taschereau and Chief Operating Officer Sarah White were named 81st on PROFIT/Chatelaine W100 Ranking of Canada’s Top Female Entrepreneurs. The 14th annual W100 ranking of Canada’s Top Female Entrepreneurs is produced by PROFIT Magazine and Chatelaine. The ranking profiles the country’s most successful women business owners, and is based on a composite score based on the size, growth and rate of profitability of business. Fairware’s ranking will be published in the November issues of PROFIT and Chatelaine Magazines and online at www.PROFITguide.com.

“The women of the W100 offer 100 shining examples of Canadian entrepreneurship,” said Ian Portsmouth, Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of PROFIT. “They have achieved their elite status by creating valued products and services, applying deft management skills and exercising the determination required to succeed in today’s business environment.”

The duo were also named finalists today for a 2012 RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Award (CWEA), which recognizes women entrepreneurs from across Canada who make impressive contributions to local, Canadian or global economies. Fairware is being considered in the TPH Sustainability Award category, which honours women-led businesses dedicated to incorporating environmentally conscious initiatives and leading social change. Winners of the RBC award will be announced in Toronto November 28.

The company is also a finalist in the Better Business Bureau of Mainland BC Torch Awards Green Award category, which recognizes forward-thinking, sustainable business practices or contributions toward positive social change. Winners will be announced October 25 in Vancouver. “When we made the decision back in 2005 to found our company, Fairware operated out of my garage, and wasn’t much more than a phone and a computer,” said Sarah White. “Fast forward seven years: we now have a team of 10, a healthy annual profit, and national recognition alongside some of Canada’s most successful women entrepreneurs. It’s gratifying to know that all of our hard work and vision to change the world for the better is paying off.”

“All along, we’ve committed to being change-makers by thinking outside of the box, and being recognized on a national level is a reflection of that commitment,” said Denise Taschereau. “We believe that we can all change the world with the simple act of buying and clearly, supporting sustainability can be good for our environment and a great way to do business.”Fairware is a Vancouver-based company that creates a wide variety of unique, ethically sourced custom products made with environmentally preferred materials.

Fairware sources custom promotional items that say something about who the client is and what they believe in, successfully marrying sustainability and style with creative vision and profitability. Fairware’s clients include Vancity, Nature’s Path Foods, Mountain Equipment Co-op, AVEDA, Patagonia, Stonyfield Farms, Aspen Skiing Company, Canadian Federation of Students and the David Suzuki Foundation.

Taschereau and White said that building their business, founded in 2005, wasn’t easy, as they navigated their way through the worst global recession in over 20 years, managed rapid growth and the challenge of recruiting and retaining staff. Fairware has emerged as one of the fastest growing distributors in the promotional products industry, with growth of 117 per cent in the last three years and revenues of over $2 million in 2011. Earlier this year, Fairware was named one of the top ten fastest growing promotional products companies in North America, and the fastest growing in Canada, by ASI Counselor Magazine.

 

LABOR WARS: Samsung Joins Apple in the Latest Labor Controversy

October 18, 2012

A Steady Hand: Photo by Robert S. Donovan

As Samsung and Apple wind up for a legal dual in courts over digital tablet cell phone patents, the technology giants find themselves tangled in another, messier PR battle.

No matter how big and how seemingly well-run a company is, there remains a serious risk when outsourcing production abroad. Last month, Samsung joined the recently targeted Apple in the long list of companies that have been accused of violating workers’ rights in their international factories.

Just as we talked last week about companies embracing a trend towards being “flawsome,” Apple and Samsung have recently been forced to admit their mistakes amid a public controversy regarding labor conditions at their Chinese suppliers—though there is certainly nothing awesome about having to admit these flaws.

In late August, New York-based activist group China Labor Watch released a lengthy report bringing into question the working conditions at 8 Samsung factories in China—6 of which are owned by the company itself. Samsung was accused of a myriad of violations, including hiring underage workers, not compensating employees overtime pay totalling nearly 100 hours a month, oral and physical abuse of workers, and failing to provide proper safety equipment.

The findings mirror a similar report released by the CLW earlier in the year that brought charges of labor abuse towards Apple. The report came after undercover CLW workers staged an investigation into conditions at factories run by Apple’s supplier, Foxconn. Amid the controversy, Apple agreed to allow the Fair Labor Association to perform audits, while Foxconn underwent a serious reform of its internal systems.

At a news conference following the release of the report, a Chinese government official blasted certain companies for lacking “human care.” Following Apple’s lead, Samsung pledged to conduct on-site investigations of all 105 of their Chinese suppliers, while China’s Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security has promised to continue to monitor conditions at their factories. The Fair Labor Association has since released a report indicating that measures taken by Samsung suggest that the company is on the right track towards addressing these serious findings.

What all this really brings to light is a continued need for businesses to be more aware of the risks inherent in their supply chains.

In the 80’s and 90’s, major apparel and footwear suppliers found themselves tangled in the now-notorious sweatshop controversy. That brought about major changes in management systems and methods for social compliance reporting (and improved working conditions on the factory floor). These changes have been crucial in redefining the way companies are expected to conduct their businesses, both at home and abroad.

With this newest debacle, the message is clear: big or small, companies must take measures to ensure that their suppliers abide by ethical and fair standards of workers’ rights. We hope that this latest outing sparks a wake-up call for the electronics industry and leads to the development of programs to protect worker rights in their factories.

While this is a serious topic, the brilliant minds at Saturday Night Live recently took our need for faster, lighter, thinner phones to task…

FLAWSOME: Humanizing Businesses

October 10, 2012

Flawsome. It’s a seemingly silly word that paints a bigger picture of the changing face of customer-business relationships—and it’s a concept we think is pretty downright awesome.

Coined by Trendwatching.com as one of their 12 Crucial Customer Trends of 2012, “flawsome” is built on the idea that customers don’t want companies to be perfect—but rather they’d prefer companies to admit and even embrace their flaws.

Tired of the same old stories of unethical business practices and corporate greed, customers are drawn to stories of businesses doing good. Companies like Ben & Jerry’s and Patagonia have shown customers and the competition alike that corporations can grow and profit, while being honest, compassionate and fair. Being flawsome goes one step beyond—it’s the concept that businesses should not only show their good side, but their human side as well.

Take for instance Miracle Whip’s new campaign slogan: “We’re not for everyone.” Or Domino’s bold effort at creating an open dialogue with customers by live-streaming positive and negative customer feedback on a Times Square ticker. Lululemon, meanwhile, took a jab at their image by uploading a YouTube parody of the popular “Sh*t Girls Say” videos: “Sh*t Yogis Say.”

For decades, advertisers had it easy. The one-way flow of communication through television, print and radio allowed for brands to be presented to the public as perfect and flawless. And even if customers were unsatisfied with the truthfulness of the ads or the quality of the products, there was no real way for them to convey it to others.

But with the Internet, that all began to change. Today’s social media boom has refined the way businesses communicate with customers. Customers can now “friend” brands on Facebook, “follow” them on Twitter, and critique them openly on Yelp to an audience of millions.

It’s made it nearly impossible for companies to hide behind even the most expensive and carefully crafted reputations. McDonald’s, for example, experienced a major advertising blunder last year when a Twitter campaign aimed at getting customers to share their feel-good dining memories at fast food giant backfired—and a tirade of bad reviews hit their feed instead.

What we love about this trend towards being flawsome is that it promotes transparency—something we think is really important when running a business. From how sustainable and efficient a business runs, to how workers are being treated, and down to the actual quality of the products being produced—we think customers should have a right to know it all, and share their thoughts.

So, while the word sounds a little cheesy, the message is anything but. Technology has created an open forum between customers and businesses, and customers are demanding companies to be good, to be honest, and above all, to be real.

Customer feedback has helped us grow into the company we want to be—one that resonates with customers and stays true to our mission. We hope this trend continues to push more companies to embrace their flawed awesomeness!

FAIRWARE CRUSH: EVERGREEN A Mission Towards Urban Sustainability

October 2, 2012

Evergreen > Bringing Nature to our Cities Since 1991.

This month, we want to give a big shout-out to a charity that hits close to home—our cities. Evergreen Canada is a national charity that has been at the forefront of making our cities more liveable for almost 20 years!

Evergreen’s mission is simple: to inspire and engage Canadians to take action towards urban sustainability. Let’s face it: as our cities grow, developers are buying up land to meet residential and commercial needs. We are losing integral green space, and it’s taking a toll on the environment, the air we breathe and our well-being. Evergreen is making moves to change that.

From planting trees to expanding park space, over the years Evergreen has gathered a diverse group of Canadians to take part in projects aimed at bringing nature back into our cities. But that’s not all—the charity is also committed to promoting green building practices, so our cities can grow sustainably. Evergreen convenes city builders, researchers and environmental innovators to encourage a environmentally responsible and resource efficient structure during a building’s life-cycle.

Since their launch in 1991, Evergreen has helped fund over 3,000 School Ground Greening Projects and more than 2,000 Community Greening Projects in parks and recreation spaces. One of their most innovative projects is Evergreen Brick Works. Named one of the top 10 geotourism destinations in the world by National Geographic, Evergreen Brick Works is a community environmental centre in the heart of Toronto’s Don Valley offering interactive workshops and community festivals aimed at inspiring visitors to live, work and play sustainably.

For the past two years, Evergreen has been a part of a great event that we love—the Molson Red Leaf Project. Evergreen teamed up with brewing giant Molson Canadian to throw the event, which this summer inspired nearly 2,600 Canadians to roll up their sleeves and clean up our parks.

Following its launch in 2011, the program has expanded from 10 to 100 events across Canada. Volunteers from communities across the country came out to give back to land—and their efforts made an amazing impact! 3,241 trees were planted and 277 bags of litter were collected. Volunteers not only got to make a difference in their cities, but they were also rewarded with passes to music festivals like the Craven County Jamboree in Saskatchewan and LIVE at Squamish in BC—which is fittingly held at the beautiful Logger Sports Grounds and Hendrickson fields, surrounded by forests and mountains.

We’re especially stoked about this event, because this year we got to get our hands a little dirty for this campaign too—or rather, kept our hands clean! We provided all the gloves used by volunteers for this event. Product with purpose is a concept we are totally committed to at Fairware, and it was great to see our gloves put to work by so many awesome volunteers.

It’s not only a passionate commitment to urban sustainability that makes Evergreen so crushable in our eyes—it’s how the charity has brought together so many great Canadians to take back our cities and take action towards a green future.

To learn more about Evergreen and it’s remarkable achievements or to take part in their programs, check out their website.


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