This B Corp company does well by doing good
They say it’s better to give than to receive. With Saul Brown’s gift baskets, both feel pretty great.
One of the leading gift basket companies in Vancouver, Brown’s business is proving—one basket at a time—that business can be a force for good and profit. It sources local artisanal products and works with social enterprises in the community.
Brown, whose company sells its wares across Canada online at itsaulgood.com and by telephone order, answered questions about his unique business model.
Q. What made you choose the gift basket industry for your business?
A. I just knew that I was passionate about business as a tool for positive change. One Christmas season, I worked for a chocolatier who sold popular gift baskets. I thought, “I can’t sell gift baskets. They’re so wasteful!” As I started gaining more business experience and learning more through my MBA, I really came to understand that good business hinges on having great relationships with your suppliers, customers and employees. By showing your appreciation for those people, corporate gift baskets can help you sustain those relationships. Then I started thinking about what could make a gift basket sustainable. If you sourced local artisanal products and packaged the gifts responsibly, that was the strong foundation for a better type of corporate gift.
Q. What was missing in the industry?
A. Gifts that told a really great story. I saw an opportunity to tell a story through the gifts to make people feel good about their connection to each other and to the community. From that perspective, the gift is a story to build a relationship, rather than just stuff in a box.
Q. What does sustainability mean to you and how does it drive your business?
A. For us, it means buying locally, working with social enterprises, using responsible packaging and giving back. That makes people feel good. It’s a better experience, and that makes a better gift. For example, one of the social enterprises we buy from is a really great bean‑to‑bar chocolate factory on Vancouver’s eastside, where they train and employ women living in social housing in the inner city.
Q. B Corps are certified to meet rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability and transparency. Why did you become one, and how has that decision affected your business?
A. We were doing all this stuff around social enterprise, local sourcing and sustainability, and we wanted to be in on the ground floor of the movement and solidify our position in it. Right away, the B assessment tool helped us to build a corporate manual and to formalize who we are as a company; what we believe in; and what we do.
It also means you can do more than any one business could do on its own. There’s a pretty big community of B Corps in Vancouver and across Canada, and BDC has helped bring us all together.
Q. How has being a member of the B Corp community inspired or influenced you?
A. It’s really about the relationships that we’ve built with other progressive businesses in Vancouver, across Canada and in the U.S. It is a vibrant community of people who have similar values, who are great business thinkers and who want to create more than just bottom‑line profit.
Q. What’s in store for the future of your business?
A. We’re about to launch some national Canadian artisan programs to really get our feet wet in other parts of the country. Our challenge and opportunity is proving that we can scale the model and still create meaningful gift programs from coast to coast.