Thoughts from the beginning....
“What else? What else do we need to define in terms of what we stand for?”
“Well…I think that one of our guiding principles has to be that we associate with & support people courageous enough to have a strong moral compass...that do the right thing. I think that is inspiring. In other words, let’s build a team that not only has amazing technical skills but are the type of people even kids look up to. Kids have such a good B.S. detector! They have to be someone others can respect and really get along with. Our brand begins with us.”
“What else? What about giving back?”
“Challenged Athletes Foundation. We definitely want to support CAF. Talk about athletes with heart. And Courage.”
“Oh...and I know it isn’t aligned directly with our brand but I feel strongly about pet cancer. There are quite a few of us that have had to deal with this in this last year.”
“Yes…definitely. Can we find a way to help cover the cost of treatment when an owner can’t?”
“What about pets in general?”
“Is saying no even a possibility? Beau and Kona would never forgive us!”
These were a few ideas bounced around when we started Coeur meetings. We think it is incredibly important to define our values as a company before we produced our first piece of clothing. We wanted principals to guide us, from our meager beginnings through our hoped for growth. Eventually, we came to realize that we are trying very hard to create is a company that practices a type of “Conscious Capitalism.”
To folks who aren’t familiar with the concept, those two words (conscious and capitalism) must seem like unnatural companions. At the risk of dating myself, I think people associate capitalism with Gordon Gecko who gave the “Greed is Good” speech in the movie Wall Street.
And conscious probably makes you think of consciousness, awareness, hippies, patchouli oil, or at a minimum, a belief system that looks down on materialism and consumerism
Fortunately, these two concepts CAN co-exist. John Mackey, founder of Whole Foods, and a business professor named Raj Sisodia, outlined a the philosophy in the book “Conscious Capitalism.” It proclaims that capitalism can be an incredibly powerful force for social good.
The philosophy suggests that, despite what your friendly neighborhood economist might say, the sole purpose of a business is NOT to just increase shareholder value. Now making money and being profitable is very important. You have to run a business to have a business. It’s just not the end all be all.
To illustrate the point, Mackey points out that while a human being must eat to survive, eating is rarely his or her main purpose in life. (Unless of course, you’re talking about carrot cake. But that is one of the few exceptions to the rule.) Rather, people want to be a part of something larger than themselves. To contribute to society. To do something good.
At Coeur, we believe the same thing. So for better or for worse, that’s who we are going to try and be. We’re going to be proud supporters of CAF. Of Pet Cancer Prevention programs. And other causes that we believe in. We’re going to do our dead level best to make a difference. We’re going to try and help.
We had a good internal debate over whether or not we should even talk about this philosophy publicly. One school of thought was that talking about our values could come across as self-congratulatory or self-righteous. Or using a good cause as a way to create sales. Another was that we might come across as tree huggers. And while a few of us will give a tree a friendly squeeze from time-to-time (I like a good Oak now and then), I think I can honestly say that our intention in explaining this is not arrogance but rather a way to spread the message. At the end of the day, we did decide that if you believe strongly in something, you shouldn’t be afraid to put it out there.
So, welcome to Coeur. A group of like-minded, CAF supporting, pet loving, conscious capitalists who hope that they can make a difference.