by Karen Kim
Healing Arts Guide
The Healing Arts Guide is very proud to continue
our series called Responsible Capitalism. In each
issue, we feature enlightening conversations
with corporate leaders who are dedicated to
producing sustainable products through
strategic initiatives and innovation.
Many companies, large and small, are being
more socially responsible. They're recognizing
that their customers are demanding ethical
leadership and protecting the planet we live on.
As the NMI (Natural Marketing Institute) reports,
"Almost one in four American consumers state
that when given the choice to buy a product or
service, they make decisions with an
understanding of the effect the purchase will
have on the health and sustainability of the
world, its environment and people."
With this in mind, Responsible Capitalism, will
help consumers make informed choices by
highlighting not only the economics behind a
business, but also the environmental and
social aspects as well.
Gerald Prolman is the founder and CEO of
Organic Bouquet, the world's first online organic
florist and its newest development Organic
Style, an online boutique that offers a wide array
of eco-luxury gifts and products for personal
use. He is also the publisher of the company's
online magazine www.OrganicStyleMag.com
Gerald Prolman is a pioneer in the organic foods industry
with 30 years of experience in international agricultural
business development and a builder of branded natural and
organic food companies. Prolman was the former President
and Co-founder (1989) of Made In Nature; the first company
to successfully introduce a line of branded organic produce
to supermarkets in the U.S. Prolman sold Made In Nature to
Dole Food Company Inc. in 1994.
During the early 1990s Prolman led the conversions of over
20,000 acres to organic production systems in theWestern
United States, Mexico, Central and South America.
What is the purpose of a business?
The basic purpose of a business is to provide a valued
product or service in exchange for a financial return that is
more than the cost of the service or product.
In what ways does a business create value, and whom does
it really serve?
Businesses become valuable when they serve the needs of all
participants in the business cycle. Everyone a business
touches including its customers, shareholders, employees,
and suppliers alike are all investors in one form or another.
Businesses are rewarded when they recognize and serve the
needs of all their partners.
Do all corporations have an obligation not just to shareholders
but also to social causes and local communities?
Supporting social causes and local communities, is not an
obligation, rather an opportunity to create goodwill and
prosperity. If you believe in Karma or the universal adage,
you get what you give, a corporation can only benefit from its
commitment to serve its community and social causes.
Can a business promote social causes and yet remain competitive
A successful union of profitability and philanthropic
objectives can strengthen an organization through an
inspired staff who share a common higher purpose.
Organic Style is built on the premise of making money while
doing good. All the products we sell support improvement of
the environment and the well-being of the people who
produce our products. This concept has become our most
significant competitive advantage.
We are proud and excited to offer what we call the "ripple
effect of goodness." In addition to the environmental and
social benefits of our products, we offer our customers an
opportunity to make a donation (at no additional cost to
them) to their favored causes through their purchases.
We have established partnerships with more than fifty
charitable organizations. They help us market our products
to their membership base (more than 10 million people
collectively who passionately care about the environment,
social justice and animal welfare) and when their members
click on the links we make a donation to that charity.
Our marketing costs are a fraction of what our non-eco
competitors pay.We end up with loyal customers who get
high quality, sustainably produced products they can feel
good about with the added bonus of a donation being made.
Everyone wins in this scenario.
Currently in our society, there is a shift going on making
responsible corporate behavior an imperative-what is
driving those forces?
It's clear to many that the earth and its inhabitants
are in serious jeopardy. Basic survival instincts are driving
a massive shift in corporate behavior. This will accelerate
as people witness the escalating effects of global warming.
Fortunately, we see increasing numbers of individuals and
companies taking small and large actions in an effort to
save the earth. Consumers are responding by making
purchasing choices that support businesses that practice
Who/what plays the critical role in keeping corporations "honest"-
is it the consumers, employees, government, economics?
More and more people, especially young people, are no
longer willing to tolerate "business as usual." They are done
with old school marketing spin, senseless consumption and reckless production of goods. Businesses that offer responsibly
produced goods and are transparent about their sourcing will
win support from this new breed of conscientious consumers.
How important is it to build a brand that generates great
As a wedding ring symbolizes love that joins a couple, in a
similar way a brand represents the feelings and relationship
between a product and its customers.
Brands with strong customer loyalty offer a guaranteed
experience that connects the product and customer in a
positive way. They can trust that the product will perform
the same way as before and it becomes an emotional bond
that ties back to the original experience.
At Organic Style we endeavor to increase our brand equity by
delivering a meaningful experience that assures not only the
delivery of luxurious products but one where our customers
can take comfort in knowing that people who produce our
goods and the earth are treated with respect.
We offer a sense of source and a heartfelt relationship with
our growers and artisans. The integrity of the product is
backed up by credible third party certifications.
What are some of the biggest obstacles in trying to
merge financial success with social commitment in today's
Social commitment doesn't always lend itself to being
competitive on costs. Price driven companies are motivated
to cut costs which in many cases results in the exploitation
of the earth and the people who produce the products.
The natural tendency is to save money where you
can but the challenge is to stand up and refuse to support
the notion of buying cheaper when cheaper means that
people or the environment are compromised.
Surprisingly, there are not always laws or adequate
checks and balances to assure that products are
ethically produced. Therefore people have to take
responsibility and ask questions because most retailers are
not always assuring this.
The greatest challenge facing growers in the progression
to organic lies in the genuine commitment of retailers
and consumers to proactively support growers who
make the investment to transition their farms to fully
organic systems. Retailers need to reward growers that take
these steps by preferentially buying their products.
Consumers are delighted to support this. More than ever
businesses have to put a stake in the ground and stand up
for what's right, not what's cheaper.
Who/what do you see as the next wave of environmental
Although we have examples of noble celebrities, politicians,
environmentalists and humanitarians speaking out and
taking action for change, there is a massive groundswell of
environmental leadership emerging amongst common
people all around the globe who are concerned about our
future and care enough to take actions big and small to do
what they can to reverse the downward spiral.
Mission accomplished is the day when there is no tolerance
for any product that is not responsibly produced.