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Visible Hands: Building a Business for Good 💖
Featuring a Q&A with Karen Frame, the CEO and founder of Makeena, a B Corp that incentivizes consumers to buy from emerging brands in the health, wellness, and sustainability space.
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We are excited to interview Karen Frame, the first social entrepreneur we have profiled for Visible Hands. She is the CEO and founder of Makeena, a discovery and insights platform focused on brands and retailers in health, wellness, and sustainability. We’ve condensed and edited the Q&A for concision and clarity.
VH: What inspired Makeena?
KF: I have always been passionate about taking care of our planet. I grew up across the street from a cornfield that was sprayed with pesticides every year, so from an early age I was very aware of the impact toxins had in and on our bodies. As a child, I was also very concerned about people who didn’t have access to healthy food and was always looking for ways to help. When I went vegan in the 1980s I became even more aware of how difficult it can be to find brands that prioritize sustainability and make healthier products.
These experiences motivated me to start Makeena so that everyone on this big, beautiful planet of ours can easily find and afford healthier food and eco-friendly products. We strive to put the power of shopping for good directly into the hands of mindful consumers.
VH: How did you decide to be a B Corp?
KF: Becoming a Certified B Corp was one of the easiest decisions for us to make. From day one, we were committed to doing business in such a way that always considered the impact it made on our community, the environment, our employees, our customers, and our vendors, in short, essentially all of our stakeholders. We knew if we did things the right way, and worked at being a force for good, we would leave our world a better place. We’re excited to be part of a global community that thinks and acts like us!
VH Note:B Lab, the non-profit behind the B Corp Certification, has created a framework for reporting on how a business impacts its stakeholders. There are currently 3,500+ Certified B Corporations across 70+ countries, including notable brands like Patagonia and Allbirds. You may recognize the logo with a B in a circle. See Makeena’s impact score and report on the B Corp website. As a reminder, this certification is different from being a public benefit corporation (a legal corporate structure that includes public good as part of company charter in addition to maximizing shareholder profit).
VH: We’ve seen more companies and brands lean into making social and political stances (for example, Ben and Jerry’s support for Black Lives Matter). As a business leader, what do you think about your role in this conversation and what role would you like your business to play?
KF: Makeena is a company that stands for inclusivity, tolerance, and making our world a better place. We’ve shared our views over the last several years by stating that we believe all voices should be heard, hate is intolerable, and that we strongly believe that the right to vote is an amazing privilege to be exercised.
I believe that leaders have a responsibility to live their truth and keep that aligned with the company they represent. Ultimately as the founder, I am Makeena. As a mature female CEO of a technology company, I am honored to be doing something that even 20 years ago was rarely done. At the same time, there is a balance between what I stand for as Karen Frame and what our company represents, and consideration for the two matters to our brands, our shoppers, and our investors.
Thanks to Karen for providing many of these suggestions.
As a consumer:
“There are dozens of ways each day to make an impact and get engaged. Each action and interaction you have provides you with a “moment of truth” or decision point. For example, if you purchase a morning coffee (post-Covid), do you bring a reusable cup with you? Can you keep a metal/reusable straw in your bag to cut down on plastic waste throughout the day?”
We know many of you (ourselves included) will be eyeing Black Friday sales. Are the brands you’re purchasing sustainable in their environmental and labor practices?
Of course, check out platforms like Makeena for sustainable brands!
As an investor:
It’s not just about investing large sums of money! “Have an investor’s mindset. Whether it is sharing your knowledge as a mentor, giving a small amount of money through micro-funding, or giving time to the community. We all can invest back to others and make a difference.”
As a citizen:
Support legislation that requires corporations to consider all their stakeholders. The Accountable Capitalism Act, proposed by Senator Elizabeth Warren in 2018, mandates that large U.S. companies obtain a new federal charter based on the state-level benefit corporation model, which obligates company directors to consider the interests of all corporate stakeholders. This type of legislation would make B Corp certification less necessary since most companies would, by default, need to take into account these issues.
As an employee:
Check out more of Karen’s perspectives on being a startup founder in this interview. One tip: “You need to have sales skills mixed with a lot of passion because you will always be selling your vision and your mission — to investors, the community, your customers, and the world.”
How venture capitalists are deforming capitalism: “This cartel-like atmosphere has encouraged V.C.s to remain silent when confronted with unethical behavior. Kraus, who has been critical of the industry’s myopia, told me, “If you’re on a board that empowered some wacky founder, or you didn’t pay attention to governance—or something happened that, in retrospect, sort of skirted the law, like at Uber—you’re fine, as long as you post decent returns.”
Dividends are down, but they are vastly better than expected: “Enormous monetary and fiscal stimulus programs have helped keep big businesses afloat and allowed many of them to maintain their dividend payouts, which are prized by many income-seeking investors. Interest rates are extraordinarily low and likely to remain so for years to come, central bankers say. That’s hurting people who count on bond income to pay for their retirement. But the low rates have helped keep dividend payments coming.”
I handled holiday orders at a grocery store. Trust me: The holidays are miserable: “...if you find yourself out and about, then please: Be kind to every service worker you meet, wherever you meet them. As hard as this year’s holiday season has been for you, it has almost certainly been even worse for them. They’ve likely been working day in and day out at constant risk of exposure, unable to afford to take time off, absorbing the frustration and aggression of customers who are struggling, too.”
When AI sees a man, it thinks 'Official.' A woman? 'Smile': “Google’s top suggested labels noted a smile for only one of the men, but for seven of the women...Amazon and Microsoft’s services appeared to show less obvious bias, although Amazon reported being more than 99 percent sure that two of the 10 women senators were either a “girl” or “kid.” It didn’t suggest any of the 10 men were minors.”
Biden expected to pick Janet Yellen, former Fed Chair, as Treasury Secretary: “[She] is likely to bring a long-held preference for government help for households that are struggling economically and for slightly tighter financial regulation with her to the Treasury.”
Newsletter Shoutout: The Flywheel is an awesome dive into the most interesting business models and fascinating companies written by Jake Singer. Learn what makes the difference between a company thriving and stagnating. Check out their most recent post about why business schools are in the process of being disrupted.
Stay connected via our Instagram, Twitter, Medium, and, of course, email (firstname.lastname@example.org)! Please invite any friends, roommates, coworkers, armchair activists, and mindful Black Friday shoppers to join the movement. See ya next Thursday!