This week I attended the ‘Careers with a Conscience’ panel discussion that the Soil Association hosted at The Hoxton in Shoreditch, aiming to provide advice to those trying to carve out a career without compromising on their core values.
After entering the chic apartment style rooms, we collected a delightful vodka cocktail containing Rebel Kitchen’s coconut water before taking our seats. Placed upon each seat was a goody bag filled with consciously produced items from brands with the Soil Association organic certification, including Pai skincare in a sweet cloth bag, a Naveen face mask, Kinn Living body oil, Rebel Kitchen chai drink and Pukka tea bags – all of which I’m super excited to test out!
The panel included:
- Lauren Bartley – Business Development Manager, Soil Association (Chair)
- Natasha Harden – Head of Marketing, Rebel Kitchen
- Sarah Brown – Founder, Pai
- Gabriella May – Head of E-commerce, People Tree
- Tom Mitchell – Funding Specialist, GapCap
These five speakers have all made conscious career changes, opting to work for purposeful brands that share their values. Based on their experiences, they stressed the importance of working for a company that you truly believe in in order to be fully satisfied with your role and to perform to the best of your ability. To follow Sarah in quoting Steve Jobs:
“Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don’t settle.”
Here are some of the highlights from the night’s discussions…
Principles of Pai
Sarah spoke of the journey she went on when launching Pai and some of the challenges she’s faced along the way. It was very clear that Pai has a real purpose – to provide effective and natural solutions to those that suffer with sensitive skin. Sarah herself battled with troubled skin for a number of years and tried numerous different medications, creams and other treatments to fight it. Left feeling self-conscious and powerless, she wanted to take back control of her skin and this is where Pai began. Now, she no longer wakes up wondering what her skin will look like that day (and I can tell you – it looked flawless at the event!) and is proud to run a business that provides products customers can trust and depend upon to banish their skin woes. It was really refreshing to hear from someone that cares deeply about the mission of their business and takes real responsibility for ensuring all products created are of a high-quality – from ignoring the passing beauty trends to ensuring all manufacturing remains in-house allowing Sarah to keep her ‘duty of care’ intact. As someone that suffers from distressed skin I’m really looking forward to trying out the samples I received and purchasing Pai when my current products run out.
Being a rebel
Natasha from Rebel Kitchen is the ultimate rebel – aiming to shake things up in the food industry by proving that healthy, sustainability-conscious brands can be sexy and successful! She quite clearly lives and breathes the Rebel Kitchen lifestyle and has fully bought into the purpose of the company, which drives her to work her hardest and keeps her content in her career. She talked about Rebel Kitchen’s mission to drive change by questioning the norm and always aspiring to do better, mentioning their aim to make all drinks bottles compostable in the future. She’s also extremely inspiring in her own right – a confident, intelligent, driven, principled, and not to mention gorgeous, individual striving to make the world a better place one coconut-based drink at a time. Rebel Kitchen has always been my first choice when it comes to coconut water, and the occasional comforting carton of chocolate milk, and now I have even more reason to love it!
Staying sustainable and remaining relevant
All speakers were united in their thinking on how a brand can remain relevant in over-saturated markets – by staying true to its sole purpose and engaging with customers. Gabriella even let us in on the news of the soon-to-be-released mens t-shirt line People Tree have developed following customer requests!
Driving change in your workplace
So what advice did they have for those wanting to challenge their employer to be more ethical? Natasha’s suggested to start by being the change and leading the way, inspiring others to follow. Gabriella encouraged asking lots of questions, as you may get the answer you want or you may prompt further conversation on the topic. Based on her own experience, Sarah proposed preparing a business case for an initiative you want to put forward – with her employees suggesting great ideas she couldn’t refuse, from sending discontinued products to women’s refuges to running mental health awareness sessions at work. Whilst Tom recommended seeking advise or partnerships to drive change on a larger scale.
“Start by being the change and leading the way”
I hope you enjoyed hearing about the event – thank you for reading!