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Walking the Talk
4 Ways Smaller, Sustainable Brands Are Adapting to COVID-19

These four Fairtrade-certified brands show that during times of crisis, brands can support their communities — near or far — with some creativity and hard work, regardless of size.

The novel coronavirus is changing, well, everything. Brands are having to adapt, quickly. Sometimes, size can be an advantage during times like these — global corporations have the capital for massive impact during a crisis, such as pivoting to produce much-needed medical supplies or making large philanthropic commitments. But small and medium-sized businesses have a role to play, too, and are responding rapidly to do their part during the crisis. Here are four smaller, sustainable brands that are adapting quickly in ways authentic to them:

Staying true to values

Organic India’s mission to provide products that promote healthy, conscious living resonates now more than ever. The B Corp-certified producer of organic, Fairtrade teas and supplements is living its mission by shipping out free kits of products such as Turmeric and Tulsi Rooibos tea that support immune system health. Additionally, they’re launching a new collection of immune-supporting products at a reduced price for those facing financial hardship during COVID-19. Organic India’s warehouse staff and office staff work side by side at their facility outside of Boulder, Colorado. Strong relationships and trust between departments at the company allow a small staff of 24 to drive the mission forward during a difficult time, even with some of the team working remotely.

“At Organic India, we believe this is the time to recall the importance of healthy, conscious living — the basic philosophy of all we do,” remarked CEO Miguel Gil. “Our aim is to go beyond profit-driven motives to help spread mental, physical and emotional wellbeing for all. Organic India believes in oneness — that we are all interconnected. If we all give of ourselves, our entire ecosystem will thrive.”

Supporting essential workers

Coffee roasters such as Brooklyn Roasting Company (BRC) are suffering due to the closure of cafes and restaurants across the country. They closed their seven cafes in Brooklyn and Manhattan on March 20, but they didn’t stop working. The BRC team helped their neighbors at Duggal Visual Solutions and Bednark Studio at Brooklyn Navy Yard in creating face shields, keeping the team running with free Fairtrade coffee. Bulk deliveries quickly shifted from cafés to hospitals, donating product to local hospitals throughout Brooklyn and Manhattan. BRC’s loyal customers now have an option to donate when they checkout online, supporting the iconic BRC truck delivering supplies to local hospitals.

Doubling down on existing donation-based models

Conscious Step is an organic and Fairtrade-certified sock company that donates to a unique cause with every pair purchased. Because of its model, it already has strong, established relationships with local and global nonprofits and an active e-commerce platform. These relationships and familiar processes allow Conscious Step to swiftly direct critical resources during COVID-19. An additional $1 donation now goes to the WHO COVID-19 Relief Fund for every pair of Conscious Step socks sold.

Spreading information and cheer

Tony’s Chocolonely, a Dutch company dedicated to making chocolate 100 percent slave free, sources its cocoa from Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire. Recognizing a lack of health and safety information at the farm level, the company is distributing posters with WHO guidelines, along with locally made soaps, tapping its global brand ambassadors to raise awareness about coronavirus. Knowing that many freelancers are having their work reduced during this time, Tony’s freelancers will be kept on payroll throughout the crisis — despite disruptions to business, such as the cancellation of Tony’s Chocotruck tour. Tony’s also came through with a little pick-me-up for each of its employees, a kit with toilet paper, hand sanitizer; and of course, Tony’s Fairtrade-certified chocolate.

These four brands show that during times of crisis, size is no object. Brands can support their communities — near or far — with some creativity and hard work.