As we’ve covered in countless articles on The Conscious Space, the landscape of our world is changing before our eyes. When COVID hit, the rulebooks we’d followed for decades were ripped up and new ways of operating were put in place, for better or worse. And while it’s easy to be consumed by the negative news cycle, it’s important – and arguably more productive – to focus on the incredible changes that are taking place, and the people who are shifting the paradigm in a positive direction. One such person is Will Brook: co-founder of We, The Many* – a Byron born start-up making superfood loaded breakfast cereals with a completely out-of-the-(cereal)-box business model. According to Will, it’s “a shuffle of the status quo”: a business model that grows by giving back, and is constantly evolving and improving in line with the evolution of our collective consciousness.
We spoke with Will about We, The Many*’s regenerative approach, and why sustainable entrepreneurship is about inspiring a change in the culture, not just in your business.
Personally, I was really influenced by the work that we did in our other family business at Brookfarm. For me, sustainability has always been a huge part of the way I work and live. I grew up on the farm where going above and beyond to care for the environment was just a given: regenerative agriculture, renewable energy, responsible manufacturing and waste management, these have been integral parts of the business for as long as I can remember. It was only when I began to learn about how other businesses operate that I realised that a holistically sustainable approach isn’t the norm, and that starting point inspired me to take it up a notch: to rewrite a business model with the modern landscape in mind, in a way that sees sustainability completely intertwined with the business. Brad and Jamie from Stone and Wood were super keen to come on board: to be involved with something totally new, with long term impacts beyond the business itself.
Human health is something we’re all really passionate about: helping people, in whatever way we can, to live their best lives.
Responsibility underpins everything we do, and that includes the responsibility we have as individuals to make the best decisions for our personal health. We want to help make that decision easier for people, which is why we chose to make products with really specific health benefits. Choosing We, The Many* allows people to take responsibility for their health, but also for their impact on the environment… just by eating breakfast.
The business model that we’ve created at We, The Many* seems really logical to me: it’s about acting in a way that preserves the planet, and in doing so, safeguards the future success of the business. Often, people assume that making environmentally responsible business decisions will come at a financial cost to the business, there’s a perceived risk that just doesn’t exist. When you genuinely appreciate that investments which preserve the planet are the best option financially, it can completely rewrite the narrative that exists around sustainable business. If we can help spread that message, then we’re achieving what we set out to achieve.
Usually the job of philanthropy is done by the founders or the owners of a business. There might be some employee or customer donation policy, but most of the major actions and decisions in terms of large profit direction towards philanthropic causes are made by founders and company directors individually. That’s brilliant, but as a business that really champions community, it made sense for us to intertwine giving back into every element of the business, rather than exporting that responsibility to one or two individuals. As a business, we’re dependent on a really conscious use of profit – to secure our success as well as our impact.
The model is simple: we make nourishing, sustainably produced, carbon neutral products, invest 50% of our profit into carbon reduction projects which, in turn, generate more profit for us to achieve an even greater impact. Essentially, the more success that a business has and the more success those investments have, the more you can put back into the environment for a positive outcome – it’s about making it a really consciously positive use of profit.
The model is something that any business can take on, but not only businesses. This model – investing in regenerative, forward-thinking projects and initiatives – is scalable, and something that families, businesses and individuals can adopt.
As we grow and develop further we’ll always be thinking about the health and wellbeing of each individual, and how we can be part of a better lifestyle to live the best life that we can, doing good for the planet at the same time. Being sustainable isn’t just about the planet, the word sustainable itself is about carrying on – that involves adapting so you’re able to thrive, as a human and as a business. We want the business to grow so it can create more positive impact, and we want to help humans to thrive too.
So far, as a start-up, finding projects to invest in has been really hard, because we have rigorous protocols that projects need to meet in order for us to support them. Our first investment has been in Green Bonds, and it’s been so interesting to learn about the work that’s being done and not only support them financially, but spread the word and celebrate these amazing projects and people. Community is a really important pillar of our brand, and we’re committed to bringing people together to make a positive impact.
The name itself alludes to our ethos: we’re a collective movement, and our aim is for our model to no longer be a news story, for operating in this way – in a way that supports the environment and sustains positive business – to become the norm.
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