New York Gathering Champions Community
New York City social business sector dynamic with successful companies like Etsy and Warby Parker
Friday August 10, 2012
It was an event that celebrated one of New York's earliest social enterprises — Greyston Bakery — and the formal adoption of benefit corporation law in Massachusetts.
Nearly 50 people attended the event, which was an opportunity for SVN and B Corp members, as well as other interested companies to come together and build relationships around creating values-based business.
Nathan Gilbert, a B Lab associate, hosted the event along with SVN executive director Deb Nelson. He says the event highlights the strong community that exists within the two networks, with SVN celebrating its 25th anniversary and B Lab, its 5th.
"These are people who have been friends if not business partners for many, many years,” says Gilbert.
"Being able to connect and be with people in the same room that share their values is really important.”
Attendees ranged from established organizations like socially-conscious fashion designer EILEEN FISHER to newer values-based enterprises like Runa Tea, which supports small tea farmers while maintaining the integrity of the Amazon rainforest.
Gilbert says the diversity is reflective of New York’s social business sector, which boasts successful flagships like Etsy, an online retailer of handmade goods, to Warby Parker, which makes affordable eyewear and supports a one-to-one program.
Greyston Bakery, which serves more than 2,200 community members in impoverished corners of Yonkers, N.Y., continues to serve as an inspiration for emerging companies, adds Gilbert.
“Regardless if you’re a bakery or a tech start up, when you hear that story and know they’re in your neighborhood, it’s pretty cool,” he says.
New regions of New York are also seeing an influx of young startups approaching business in new ways — from creating consumer products that have environmental considerations to socially-responsible brand management firms. Gilbert points to DUMBO (Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass), as one such area, where young tech start-ups and artists are invigorating the area.
While the growth and success of these individual organizations is critical, Gilbert says the real power comes from building a movement.
“Collectively, we’re trying to create a new sector of the economy. There are entrepreneurs that want to redefine what it means to be successful in business and there is a lot of entrepreneurs doing that on their own, but what’s useful and helpful to continue their message is a tribe to be a part of,” he says.
“SVN and B Lab is that tribe. It’s being able to get together and create a community and collectively move the dial in the direction they are hoping.”
SVN and B Lab's next local gathering takes place in Burlington, Vermont this September. To learn more click here.
Contact camille(at)axiomnews.ca to share your views on what’s need to drive the momentum of social business forward.