SUSTAINABLE SISTAS: KIRA SIMPSON FROM THE GREEN HUB
Sustainable Sistas is a blog series celebrating women who run sustainable and ethical businesses or are doing important work for sustainable causes. We find out what sustainability means to them, challenges they face, what drives them and what they hope sustainability will achieve. Please contact us here if you would like to be featured or know a lady doing amazing work.
We met Kira on Instagram a few years ago when she started blogging on a humble little website called Eco Green People. Fast forward to today and she is now at the helm of the incredible sustainability website called The Green Hub, which she created with help from her lovely husband, David.
The Green Hub started out as a marketplace for sustainable and ethical products but Kira quickly realised this wasn’t working as she had first envisioned. Being a clever and adaptable cookie, Kira changed the core business to become a directory for ethical and sustainable brands and a source of knowledge for people seeking out how to live a greener lifestyle.
Kira is genuinely one of the loveliest and kindest people we know. She is always ready to offer help, guidance and advice when we need it. You can tell she has a deep passion for making the planet a better place; it shows through in everything she does. We hope you enjoy our interview with Kira.
What’s your definition of sustainability?
I often repurpose the definition from “Our Common Future” because it’s the most succinct way to explain sustainability. It’s about living today in such a way that doesn’t compromise the world for future generations.
When you start The Green Hub what was your vision? How has that vision evolved?
I started The Green Hub with a grand vision of building Australia’s largest ethical online marketplace filled with products and brands from the fashion, beauty and eco living world. I knew there was a gap in the market and preliminary research showed consumers preferred to shop at 'one stop' online destinations so I thought it would be relatively easy to create.
What I didn’t anticipate was my business model focused very much on customer convenience and not enough streamlining processes for the vendors selling through our marketplace. I didn’t realise that our self-managed backend and drop ship fulfillment model created a lot of work for these small business owners who were already stretched for time. It resulted in more than half the brands I approached to sell on The Green Hub declining to join and the ones who did, struggled to keep stock levels maintained and fulfill orders in addition to their own stores and shopfronts.
After 10 months of only just keeping afloat, I made the decision to close the marketplace. The decision was an easy one, because our blog content were the most visited pages on the site and I received several emails a day from readers asking for tips, advice and brand recommendations. I knew there was another business I could grow from our existing community so I redeveloped the site and relaunched as a media platform sharing the latest brands, research, tips and guides to help empower people to make sustainable lifestyle choices. The vision is still the same, I just changed the approach.
What do you think is the biggest challenge facing eco and sustainable businesses in 2017?
Too many focus on the brand’s story, the social cause, the eco-friendly nature of the products or ethical origins of their businesses, to sell their products, and not enough on the product aesthetics. People shop with their eyes first and then consider the impact or origins of the product later. I regularly come across social enterprises who feel people should buy their products simply because they are supporting community programs or education in developing parts of the world. This creates a whole new problem of overconsumption because people are being guilted into buying stuff they don’t really want or need. Sustainable businesses need to create products consumers actually need, want and love and build the social and environmental aspect into their business models as well.
Sustainable entrepreneurship seems to be a largely female led space. Why do you think that is?
Perhaps women care more. Or it could be that sustainable businesses most prevalent in the media are fashion and beauty companies, mostly founded and run by women.
As a sustainability entrepreneur how do you incorporate environmentally friendly and socially conscious practices into your business model?
I run an online business and our environmental footprint is much less than that of a business creating physical products.
What is your opinion on traditional companies trying to fit their current operations into a green framework?
It’s fantastic. Consumers aren’t going to stop buying from their favourite brands, stores, grocers, etc. But, they want them to be making an effort to do more in terms of reducing and improving their social and environmental impact. Consumers are also savvy and can smell greenwashing a mile away so these efforts need to be genuine.
Despite its challenges, what drives and motivates you to create sustainable businesses and keep velocity and momentum up?
Quite simply, I love my business, the brands I work with and I find most aspects of running a business enjoyable. The challenges definitely outweigh the benefits which are what I focus on when I do find myself feeling challenged or discouraged. The latter being rare. If you don’t love what you do, then why do it?
What does the future of sustainable business look like to you?
With every new business creating a model using the three pillars of sustainability. People, Planet, Profit.