The Ethical Wellness Brands Driving Positive Change

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  • Pioneering social enterprise ‘Everytable’ offers healthy, nutritious food at lower prices in underserved communities, subsidised by higher prices in more affluent communities
  • Everytable plans to open 25 franchises owned by entrepreneurs of colour from underserved neighbourhoods in southern California over the next five years
  • Annenberg Foundation and The California Wellness Foundation funding, an example of ethical investment which some financial analysts predict will explode 

LOS ANGELES, United States — Social enterprise Everytable has received $2.5 million in investment from Annenberg Foundation and The California Wellness Foundation to support the development and implementation of a pioneering social equity franchise programme. 

Everytable plans to open 25 franchises owned by entrepreneurs of colour from underserved neighbourhoods in southern California over the next five years. 

The five-year-old company — which has previously received support from Goop founder Gwyneth Paltrow and journalist, author and former First Lady of California Maria Shriver – was founded by Sam Polk, a former Wall Street trader turned warrior for food justice. 

The pioneering social enterprise offers healthy, nutritious food at lower prices in underserved communities, subsidised by higher prices in more affluent communities. 

Meals are prepared by chefs at a single central kitchen to reduce costs and those savings are passed onto customers. Meal prices start at $4.95 in underserved neighbourhoods and $6.95 in middle-income or affluent communities. 

Initiatives include a “pay it forward” scheme where people can pay for someone else’s meal in advance and the food business has recently opened Everytable Markets and SmartFridges at local colleges and universities in efforts to eliminate food insecurity among students. 

“Our core mission is to push against structural inequality, first through the pricing and accessibility of our healthy food offerings, and second by hiring from the low-to-moderate income communities we serve,” said Polk, Everytable’s co-founder and CEO. 

With this recent investment, Everytable will expand the development of a franchise training and education programme to empower disenfranchised entrepreneurs who ordinarily might not be able to access capital to bring affordable and nutritious food into their communities. 

It allows Polk to start making good on a pledge he made when speaking to Forbes in 2018, saying: “We have our sights set on McDonald’s and Subway scale. That means 10,000 to 30,000 locations. That’s going to involve franchising and directing a large part of our franchise efforts towards the entrepreneurs of colour from underserved communities.” 

Annenberg Foundation executive director Cinny Kennard said: “The lack of freshly made and affordable, healthy meals is a challenge that should not exist for anyone in a city as plentiful and kind as Los Angeles.” 

Everytable is designed to effectively combat this existence of “food deserts”, Kennard says. “[We are] pleased to support Everytable’s mission, especially its vital new social equity franchise program… and are proud to be a part of such an innovative and inclusive approach.” 

According to a statement from Everytable, the company has sold more than 1 million meals to date, and for every 50,000 meals sold, it lays the groundwork to open a storefront in another deserving community. 

The Ethical Wellness Brands Driving Positive Change

Image: Everytable

Ethical investment poised to explode
Investment into ethical businesses such as Everytable is nothing new. Global socially responsible investments have grown by 34% to $30.7 trillion over the past two years, according to the biennial report from the Global Sustainable Investment Alliance, which aggregates data from regional sustainable investment groups around the world.

Europe remains the biggest region for sustainable investors with about $14 trillion devoted to sustainable strategies, up 11% from 2016. But despite ethical funds being available for 30 years, in the UK they only account for 1.6% of the national industry total, according to data from Schroders. 

This is despite a global research report from the Bank of America Merrill Lynch published last year that showed a strategy of buying stocks that rank well on ethical, social and governance (ESG) metrics would have outperformed the S&P 500 every year for the last five years. 

Although the uptake of ethical funds has been slow, analysts predict it could be about to explode with a survey by Rathbone Greenbank Investments finding more than 80% of the UK’s High Net Worth Individuals (HNWIs) are interested in investing their money ethically. 

The boutique fitness sector in particular has benefited from private equity firms looking to capitalise on brands that promote positive purpose, not least Barry’s (formerly Barry’s Bootcamp).

Since 2015 Barry’s has been majority-owned by North Castle Partners, a private equity firm that has invested in boutique fitness offerings such as pilates studio operator SLT, and climbing-focused Brooklyn Boulders as well as more traditional gyms including Equinox and CR Fitness. 

Reports late last year suggested the company could be weighing up a sale that would value Barry’s at $700 million. 

Barry’s mentorship programme
This month, underlining the brand’s purpose-driven outlook, Barry’s London announced a mentorship partnership with John Roan School in Greenwich, whose students are largely from diverse and disadvantaged backgrounds. 

The initiative aims to mentor selected students on a three-week fitness programme led by Barry’s trainers who will showcase the benefits that come from being active, not just physically, but also in improving mental health and confidence. 

“The number of disadvantaged students is higher than the national average, so we wanted to offer them something they wouldn’t normally have access to,” explained Sandy Macaskill, co-founder and master trainer of Barry’s London. 

“Our ambition is to show these students that through working hard and staying focused they can reach any of their goals, whether that’s in the Red Room, in school or in later life.” 

The scheme follows the brand’s long-standing relationship with Place2Be, an organisation that provides mental health counselling and support to schools, further demonstrating its commitment to promoting wellness beyond the four walls of the gym 

“At Barry’s we are always trying to ensure that, not only are we supporting our community in the Red Room, but also through day-to-day life – it’s something we take very seriously and are extremely passionate about,” added Macaskill. 

“It’s so important for the wellness industry to understand we all have a significant role to play and responsibility to our community of clients, trainers and friends to ensure personal wellbeing is a priority through all aspects of life.” 

The Ethical Wellness Brands Driving Positive Change

Image: Barry’s

A force for good
Everytable and Barry’s aren’t the only wellness-minded businesses that are thriving by prioritising social and environmental purpose at the heart of their ethos. Here we round up the ones to watch – and the ones that paved the way. 

MINDFUL CHEF
The UK-based fresh ingredient delivery company operates a one-for-one model, where for every meal it sells, it donates one, partnering with the charity One Feeds Two who deliver school meals to children living in poverty. To date, Mindful Chef has donated over 1 million school meals. The company also became B Corp certified in 2019, joining a growing number of businesses that “meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose”. 

A recent study by B Lab, a charity that supports UK-based B Corps, found businesses within the purpose-driven B Corp movement are growing 28 times faster than the national economic growth of 0.5%, driven by increased consumer demand for purpose-led brands. As of 2019, there are currently over 2,750 certified B Corps, across 64 countries. 

DANONE
By far the world’s largest B Corp is France’s socially-conscious global food giant Danone. In 1972 founder Antoine Riboud set the company on track “to bring health to our planet and to generations of people through our company and its ecosystems now and in the future”. In 2018, Danone North America became its eighth subsidiary to earn B Corp status, with supply chain initiatives to reduce its carbon and water footprint with renewable energy offsets, river and soil restorations, and carbon capture and storage. 

GOOD GYM
A community of runners in the UK that combine getting fit with doing good, participants will stop off on runs to do physical tasks for community organisations and to support isolated older people with social visits and one-off tasks they can’t do on their own. “It’s a great way to get fit, meet new people and do some good. As long as you’re up for getting sweaty, everyone’s welcome,” says its website. GoodGym is working with Sport England to address the reduction in physical activity by women after the transition from full-time education to job-seeking or employment. 

The Ethical Wellness Brands Driving Positive Change

Image: Rumble Gym

RUMBLE
For every class or session a client books at Rumble in London, a tree will be planted to help offset their carbon footprint. Other eco-friendly initiatives include sustainably sourced products and no single-use plastic on site. According to the Dalston-based company, it is London’s first carbon-neutral fitness studio. Rumble Gym has planted a total of 2,764 trees from December to 31 January. The trees have been planted in Australia in areas affected by the bushfires. 

109 WORLD
The brainchild of Leticia Gonzalez-Reyes, Rachel Brathen (also known as @yoga_girl) and Olivia Rothschild, 109 World hosts activations that make it easy to use individual social platforms for greater social good missions. The organisation runs seasonal retreats intended to support the community they visit. For example, during the platform’s first trip to Nicaragua it helped set the groundwork for a water distribution system. Plans for 2020 include a women empowerment yoga experience in Mexico and a retreat in the Caribbean’s Curaçao in partnership with the local non-profit, Curaçao Animal Rights Foundation (CARF). 

NOIREFITFEST
A one-day, free to attend fitness festival dedicated to changing the face of fitness, creating a platform of visibility for black fitness experts and the black community. 

The concept, which is currently aiming to raise £15,000 via crowdfunding, comes from Lorraine Russell and Donna Noble, two personal trainers who were inspired to create the one-day festival after Sport England released figures revealing a significant ethnicity gap in physical activity. Just 56% of black people achieve the recommended amount of weekly fitness, compared with 62% of the general population. Russell and Noble’s campaign draws parallels with OYA Retreats, who deliver holistic movement and mindfulness experiences to black women and women of colour on exclusive retreats in the UK and abroad. 

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