Karen Francis believes that every decision we make and every product we buy could be eco-friendly. Eco Guardian source and sell products that maintain an ecological balance, while still looking fabulous. It’s a powerful and purposeful mission statement that Eco Guardian brings to life for consumers who wish to embrace style with a conscience. This company ethos reflects Karen’s wider passion for supporting sustainability in all its wonderful forms. She shares her thoughts with us on the ‘pay it forward’ philosophy and believes that empathy for others is a beacon of hope in our society.
What’s rockin’ in the world of Eco Guardian at present?
We are in set-up mode, so flat out establishing our exclusive eco brands: Proof Eyewear, WeWood watches and Sprout watches. We also have a direct e-commerce website, which focuses on selling these brands and supporting other sustainable brands, including bags, shoes and phone cases, with many more products to come. We are busy establishing stockists around the country. In a nutshell, we are on a mission to give NZ consumers the choice of buying sustainable fashion accessories as quick as we can!
What businesses, organisations or business trends are inspiring you at the moment?
I love how many social enterprises are popping up now. The whole idea of using commercial strategies to maximise improvements in human and environmental well-being is just fantastic. It is such a rewarding way of running a business.
The absolute full commitment and no hidden agenda of the likes of Tom’s Shoes, Greenpeace, One Percent Collective, Project Jonah and Sustainable Coastlines are also very inspiring. Businesses that have an embedded pay it forward philosophy in their purchasing structure can fundamentally transform the way we do and think about business, i.e. a shift from maximising individual profits to an orientation towards community and collective impact.
Businesses and individuals that share insights, knowledge and IP, like Richard Branson. Again this is not about self-oriented success but reaching out to share success with a genuine desire to help others make a positive difference in this world. CEO’s that have undergone a transformation and re-alignment of their personal and business related core values, like Arianna Huffington are inspiring.
I admire businesses like Proof Eyewear that are commercially successful, produce beautifully-crafted sustainable goods, but genuinely care about our impact on the environment and people in need of a helping hand.
What place does generosity have in business?
Generosity can manifest in lots of different ways and permeate all aspects of business. Some examples include: an embedded pay it forward structure that involves and potentially inspires both consumers and also other businesses that you work with, e.g. your accountant, lawyer, web developer, suppliers etc.
In terms of time and expertise, successful businesses can mentor start-ups, and businesses can also support each other by sharing experiences and IP. Generosity with staff can manifest in flexible working hours and planning professional development. Combining commercial operations with support of charities and local businesses, like providing products for fundraising.
Tell us three things that inspire you and why.
I LOVE everything about David Attenborough. Why? Because of his pure passion for nature.
Green Ideas magazine because it is not fluffy! It provides substantial and informative articles that don’t shy away from controversy or contentious environmental issues.
Treehugger.com for its comprehensive range of articles that provide information on many aspects of sustainable living.
Can I have a fourth? Solar power technology because it’s becoming a financially viable option and has enormous potential for homes to be their own sustainable power houses that can not only meet our energy needs but also generate surplus power to share. I can’t wait to be able to pull into my garage and charge my car via our own solar power from the rooftop.