The following article is part of our lessons in sustainable business series by students at the Presidio Graduate School.
By Eric Cetnarski
David Crow started Floracopeia in 2005 with a mission to introduce the public to the numerous medical and spiritual benefits of high quality essential oils. Crow also committed to source its products sustainably while contributing to the economic and ecological development of its agricultural partners.
These are ambitious goals for any company, and most certainly for a small business. Crow and his team were presented with significant challenges including:
- Finding growers and distillers with impeccable quality controls
- Sourcing from areas where social and ecological improvements can be made
- Finding a way to measure both the quality of the product and the positive impacts of their eco-projects
- Educating consumers on the value of high quality, sustainably sourced oils (The market is flooded with much cheaper artificial or low quality oils and customers pay a premium for Floracopeia products.)
Strategy and Outcome
According to Crow, the Floracopeia team helped overcome these challenges by developing close relationships with all its stakeholders – from the grower to the customer. Crow will not enter into any business agreement until he is sure the supplier or distiller shares the same passions for quality, integrity and environmental stewardship. He also ensures the supplier or distiller trusts him.
Floracopeia also hosts frequent customer educational events in order to foster an appreciation for the myriad benefits pure botanicals provide. “The Floracopeia network is an extended family.” says Crow.
Floracopeia’s investment in this family, while seemingly simple, pays large dividends and saves the company considerable time and money. The company does not have to invest in elaborate quality control mechanisms or seek out third party certifications for validity. As a result, the company can channel its resources into education, product development and social/ecological restoration within its partners’ communities.
Floracopeia’s strategy has proven successful. The company is flourishing and it is delivering upon its promise to lift its partners out of poverty and restore natural ecosystems. To date Floracopeia has sent over $1,000,000 back to the farmers and distillers in its network. For a small company, that is a significant achievement and proof that a living wage can be shared by all. Furthermore, Floracopeia has helped shepherd the planting of tens of thousands of trees globally. The company recently helped farmers plant more than 30,000 of the endangered Palo Santo Tree in Ecuador.
Like every small business, Floracopeia has had its share of difficulties. The company has experienced technology and eCommerce hurdles, supply chain fluctuations, and international commerce and regulatory issues.
Indeed, it is important that anyone choosing to open a socially responsible business remember that every business – altruistic or not – will have to endure growing pains. The chances of overcoming the hurdles are better, however, when a company and its partners participate in mutually beneficial and trusting relationships and unite behind a common vision. Floracopeia and its network prove this.