This is a follow up story for Goods That Matter. If you're interested in reading how they got started, published almost 3 years ago, check it out here.
Hello again! Remind us who you are and what business you started.
Hi, I’m Tippy Tippens, Chief Eternal Optimist at Goods that Matter. I started with a soap that gives to oil spill cleanup in 2010, BirdProject Soap. This was my way as a designer to help after the BP Oil Spill Disaster in 2010. I got my start on Kickstarter with that product and then was inspired to start the company, Goods that Matter. We design and make a variety of eco-goods from candles to custom first aid kits to cards - each product raises funds for a unique cause.
Goods that Matter creates everyday design goods, with extraordinary impact. Each Matter product is handmade in the U.S., of eco-friendly materials, & gives back to unique social and environmental causes. 10% of all proceeds flow to causes that impact the health, happiness, and sustainability of our communities both locally and for our neighbors around the world.
We are proud to be the first Benefit Corporation in the state of Louisiana and to have donated $43,632 to date to our partner causes! Goods that Matter works to make the world a better place by creating products and collaborations that matter.
Tell us about what you’ve been up to! Has the business been growing?
We have a new location for our brick & mortar store, The Good Shop - we’re located in the Lower Garden District in New Orleans. This is the most space that we’ve ever had and are in a great local for foot traffic right off of Magazine Street (the main shopping street). We carry 25+ local makers with a social or environmental aspect to their business. Our shop is a collective, home to Goods that Matter, Heartsleeve Tees, Masue Designs, Masterman Ceramics, Smoke Perfume, & Poet Motors.
Noticing what we are seeking/needing as individuals and finding commonalities with others’ needs is a constant source of inspiration for product and service ideas.
We also sell additional local makers’ goods, books, etc on consignment and host visiting artists’ work on a 2-month basis, featuring 6 different artists per year. We’ve also started a new pop-up series, offering a safe (masked) venue for a few local food vendors - for example, popsicles, cheeseboards, coffee, and cookies.
Here’s a virtual walk-through of our shop! Click on the pins for more info about individual products.
A couple of our latest candles scents: ACTION, a vetiver scented candle that gives to Racial Equity / She the People &
CHERISH, an oakmoss sandalwood scent, that gives to Backstreet Cultural Museum, preserving Mardi Gras cultural traditions.
I also recently purchased a Cricut maker that I’m excited to explore some new ideas with. I bought it to make dust covers for some custom candle orders. I love making custom goods for clients! Since we last spoke, I also designed a new first aid kit in partnership with Learn to Live, a healthcare non-profit.
New PR - Design Milk featured our launch product, BirdProject Soap on Earth Day.
Quickbooks featured us the previous Earth Day.
New marketing efforts:
I’ve started using Planoly to plan and auto-post our social media posts. I really like it as it automatically posts when scheduled and will also post to Twitter & Facebook. YOu can also use it to post to Pinterest which I haven't done yet but am looking forward to it. I’m also wanting to improve our Pinterest-ing, top of my list for the following months.
What have been your biggest lessons learned in the last year?
The pandemic has changed a lot. I was aiming for a really big growth year as it will be our 10th year in business come November. With things being so uncertain now and so many unknowns ahead, my focus is on staying in business. Luckily we can still sell online and ship to our customers. We’ve seen some wholesale orders coming back in the past couple of months, not as much as usual, but I’m grateful to have some wholesale activity.
I’m looking at what other products we can add that are still useful to people in our current reality. I’m not making any big decisions until after the election.
I’ve slowly been working on writing a book and have been making some more headway on that recently. The working title is ‘Dream & Hustle + Be Kind’ - it’s an A-Z type guidebook for small, physical product-based businesses. Mostly focused on helping those who are starting/want to start a business, this book is a resource for them to quickly find answers for a variety of common business needs. It also includes inspiration resources and tips on how to run an eco-friendly business that gives back.
What’s in the plans for the upcoming year, and the next 5 years?
This is a little tough/different due to the pandemic.
Number one is staying afloat. We introduced hand sanitizer to our product line, early when the pandemic started and it was difficult to find locally. We were able to source the needed isopropyl alcohol although it was incredibly scared as well as the 2 oz spray bottles (still difficult to obtain). I’m working on a partnership with a local distillery to use locally distilled alcohol so that we can wholesale our sanitizer, currently, the cost of the isopropyl alcohol is too high to do so. The sale of the sanitizer kept us busy for the first couple of months of the pandemic.
It also raises funds for Doctors without Borders, we’ve made a few donations since the pandemic which feels great. We also have a buy one donate option, where customers can donate a bottle to local shelters and front line workers which have had a great response!
Our brick & mortar kept afloat by offering curbside pickup.
Our sales have mostly shifted to online, our brick & mortar shop is doing 25%ish of usual sales.
Plans for the upcoming year - launch at least one new product, more on that coming soon.
I’d love to start a new location in another city, highlighting local makers of that city/region.
I’m also working on removing all plastic from our product line and would love to add more plastic-free eco-friendly home & bath cleaning products. Climate change is one of my strongest passions and I want to do more to combat that.
Our awesome Bug Spray (really works!) that gives to National Parks is part of the expansion of our Bath & Body line.
Have you read any good books in the last year?
I’ve been reading more with a little extra time due to the pandemic. Born A Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah is really great. I actually listened to that one on audiobooks & Trevor Noah narrates it - a lovely bonus. I highly recommend it - his childhood story is filled with all of the emotions. His mother was a powerful force and all that he’s achieved is so inspiring.
I also recently read Rising: Dispatches from the New American Shore by Elizabeth Rush. It tells the stories of rising sea level and its effects on communities around the country. From Maine to South Louisiana to even Portland - as sea levels rise & our climate changes - the warmer weather has changed wildlife habitats in the mountains of Portland as birds and other animals seek cooler weather at higher elevations. A fascinating read.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who might be struggling to grow their business?
Everything is different right now because of the pandemic. Typically I would say test your idea/product as soon as you can. Listen to what customers say when they are initially experiencing your product, see what you need to adjust. I think it’s easy for people to get caught up in the excitement of their idea and not listen to what people really need.
There are new needs because of the pandemic - services like Instacart/grocery delivery have taken off. Toilet paper, sanitizer, cleaning products, puzzles, connectivity, communication. Customers still have needs, we need to adapt and try to help where we can. We can also find inspiration in our own frustrations/needs in the current situation that we’re all in. Noticing what we are seeking/needing as individuals and finding commonalities with others’ needs is a constant source of inspiration for product and service ideas.
Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?
We aren’t currently hiring due to the pandemic. We will be hiring helpers when it feels safer to share space again.
Where can we go to learn more?
If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!
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