After making it big as a founding partner in one of the world’s most awarded advertising agencies, Crispin Porter + Bogusky, Alex Bogusky changed course to pursue a new way of doing business. In 2011, Adweek’s Creative Director of the Decade partnered with his wife Ana Bogusky and friends Rob Schuham and John Bielenberg to launch COMMON, a network for prototyping social ventures under one unified label – what founders call “the world’s first collaborative brand.”
Now, the COMMON team is preparing to launch an online retail marketplace to support and celebrate people, companies, products and services that redefine the way the business of everyday life is conducted. Set to go live on Jan. 31, the marketplace will feature 100 companies at launch – each with its own mission of sustainability and social good.
To be accepted into the marketplace, companies must meet a set of design, sustainability and collaborative criteria set by COMMON. Rather than simply advocate for socially conscious brands, company founders say they hope to use standard free market principles to bolster social entrepreneurship and inspire consumers to choose cause-driven products.
“Talk is cheap. Meetings are boring. Theory is good in theory,” the company says on its website. “Rather than operate as a consultancy or incubator, we decided to let free market capitalism do its thing: test the ideas of collaborative consumption and creation, social entrepreneurialism and new capitalism. In the real world.”
Set to include products relating to everything from transportation and tech to apparel and accessories, the marketplace represents the latest move in COMMON’s quest to unite standard business practices and social good. Over the past four years, founders organized a series of pitch events in Brooklyn; Milwaukee; Boulder, Colo.; Cape Town, South Africa; and Santiago, Chile to spur social entrepreneurship. The collaborative brand also hosts four-day strategic mapping sessions that seek to realign traditional business around the social enterprise space – dubbed “Maniacal Business Attacks” or MBAs.
After launching the marketplace early next year, the company plans to move beyond well-established labels and begin building a community that will be a resource for entrepreneurs who are just getting started – providing support, guidance and tangible resources to help up-and-comers get things going.
“Historically, marketplaces have also been community centers and gathering spots, where not just goods, but ideas are shared and exchanged,” the company says on its website. “COMMON has always been about community. The Marketplace is our center.”
COMMON will select its first wave of companies for the marketplace on Dec. 15, which is also the deadline for second wave company submissions. Socially conscious brands are encouraged to contact COMMON to be considered for the launch, while interested consumers can sign up to receive email updates on featured companies and be the first to find out when the marketplace goes live.
Image credit: Common.is
Based in Philadelphia, Mary Mazzoni is a freelance journalist who frequently writes about sustainability, corporate social responsibility and clean tech. Mary also contributes to Earth911; her work has appeared on the Huffington Post, Sustainable Brands and The Daily Meal. You can follow her on Twitter @mary_mazzoni.