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Responsible Capitalism

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

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.

Gerald Prolman, Organic Bouquet CEO, Eco-Friendly Roses

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 and profitable?
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.

Gerald Prolman, Organic Bouquet CEO, Eco-Friendly Roses

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 responsible commerce.

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 customer loyalty?
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 global economy?
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 leadership?
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.

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Sustainable Flowers Make The Perfect Gift For All Occasions

Organic Bouquet is the largest online provider of eco-friendly and organic floral gifts. All of our flowers are grown in a manner that is not only environmentally friendly but also provides outstanding resources for farm workers and artisans. Organic Bouquet partners with select flower farms in California, Ecuador and Colombia. All of our flower farms follow stringent growing practices which are monitored by multiple certification agencies and associations. When you purchase flowers from Organic Bouquet, you are helping to improve the life of a flower farm worker, their family and the local floral community.

Our eco-friendly flower arrangements include roses, calla lilies, tulips, gerbera daisies, hyacinths, sunflowers, alstromeria lilies and blue iris. In addition to a complete line of flower arrangements, we offer gift baskets, fruit baskets, nut baskets, gourmet chocolates, gourmet cookies, plants and  wreaths. All of these products are certified eco-friendly and/or provide for environmental benefits through our participation in Carbon Offset programs.

Whatever the occasion, our flowers make the perfect gift- birthday celebration flowers, anniversary flowers, holiday flowers, or floral arrangements simply to say thank you. Sending flowers from Organic Bouquet says that you care not only about the person receiving the flowers, but also about the environment. All of our gift items are shipped nationwide to all 50 states. So whether you need to send flowers to Florida, New York, California, or Colorado, we can guarantee overnight delivery to ensure they arrive fresh and ready to put a smile on someone’s face.

Whether you are purchasing online, or through one of our customer service specialists, you can be assured you are ordering the freshest quality of flowers and environmentally friendly gifts.