[This article was graciously written by Looptworks' Lewis & Clark intern, Amaris Bouchard]
For Looptworks, being a Certified B Corp means learning alongside other like-minded people. It means substantiating values with action.
For consumers and businesses alike, the idea of a B Corporation is something to get behind: ethical standards that keep workers and the environment from harmful, exploitative practices? Well that sounds great!
Like it’s also smart to ask, “What’s in a label?," what is it actually like to be inside a B Corp?
Being inside Looptworks feels like being in a very ‘human’ space. There’s always upbeat music playing, undertoned by the sounds of staff calling to check on their kids in school, laughing with each other, and singing along to the music as they clean leather and cut fabric. Plants dangle from pockets along the vaulted ceiling. Natural light pours into the front-of-house; which is equal parts retail, production, and office. There’s an air of calm, focused productivity.
It feels like walking into someone’s passion project going on in part of their home. You can grab a donut, peruse the gorgeous finished-products, and talk with everyone who’s working hard to make it happen.
Looptworks was one of the first one hundred B Corps with a supply chain to get certified. Many of the initial B Corps were law firms or accounting departments—it can be challenging to get certified with all the processes and people involved in a supply chain. But founder Scott Hamlin was determined from the get-go to make closed-loop manufacturing an enterprise with an ethical focus.
“I had started the company with this idea in mind: Why can’t business be good? Why can’t business give back? Before we became a B Corp, I knew I wanted this to be good for the environment, good for people, and I also want it to be a business that grows. About two years after we started Looptworks (over 10 years ago), I found the B Corp movement and I was like: ‘These are my people! Business is a force for good! Environmental and social and profit all in the same playing field.’ So I said, ‘We gotta do this’.”
The path to certification wasn’t easy, however.
“It was hard to certify the first time. While we were totally doing what we were supposed to be doing, and I built the business to do what B Corp are supposed to, we hadn’t documented any of it. We didn’t have time to document and measure while keeping up as a business.”
Documentation is a familiar bureaucratic trip-up for most business owners, but Looptworks met the challenge, guided by our ethos of doing it all: being a growthful, innovative business that’s good for people and the planet.
“That was the challenging upfront, but since then we’ve managed to keep improving our scores and it’s right up there on the wall, and we keep it front and center. We’re really proud to be in the B Corp community. The only challenge for us is making sure we track things, because we know we’re doing the right work and we know we’re doing it well.”
What many might see as an inconvenience, Looptworks always sees as a learning opportunity.
“I view the certification as a time to reflect. We’re always charging forward, right? And you’re always like ‘Lets go do good things and grow a business and make sure it’s doing the right things’. But then the certification gives you time to reflect and go ‘Okay, what about what we’re doing is right, and how can we get better?”
The B Corp certification standards have helped Looptworks grow as an ethical business. Rather than continuing to focus on our strong suit of environmental impact, the social standards in particular have guided how our supply chain better takes care of its people.
“I think social has been a great learning experience for us on not only some of the obvious things, like how you treat your supply chain. The more we try to incorporate everyone into the financial aspects of it: how do we train our people, how do we bring them up, how do we show career paths for them... there’s a lot of things on just the management side. It sounds intuitive, but there’s a lot of nuances to it that we’ve learned a lot from.”
At Looptworks, we’re not just a company keeping millions of pounds of textiles out of incinerators, we’re also creating valuable jobs, partnerships, and sharing our know-how within the industry. Scott describes the personality of Looptworks as “a little hard to pin down, but I’d like to think it’s got an optimistic, spirited, irreverent, disruptive personality. It’s not okay with the status quo—in an optimistic way. It’s not the ‘stand up on a soap box and tell everybody they’re bad’ kind of thing. I would say inclusive. And I would hope that it’s the person that you meet that everybody loves. Because we’re really just trying to bring people and companies together to do something different that makes a difference.”
We at Looptworks are just as eager to learn as we are to innovate. We feel right at home in the B Corp community.
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