environment2022/03/17

My Entrepreneurial Journey To Building A B Corp Brand

by Maria Kastrup Lausten

It has always been a dream for me to start my own business. My parents, my parents-in-law as well as my husband have always had their own businesses. Five years ago there was a real chance of starting a new chapter in my life, and all signs were pointing towards founding my own business as well. 

I had a lot of ideas which all had the same perspective in mind, namely creating a real difference for other people. This is the story of how I became an entrepreneur and part of the B-Corp movement...

Building a business with purpose 

Four years ago, Mumutane became a reality. The idea behind Mumutane is to create a new modern take on existing traditions from the best of two different worlds; the Nordic design values and the lively and inspirational African tradition. 

At the same time, it was extremely important for me to deep dive into all processes of production, without compromising people or the planet. In fact, I wanted to create purposeful design products which had a positive impact on both the environment and people. 

Creating sustainable partnerships

I made an agreement with the Danish luxury upholstery company, Kvadrat, to use all of their leftover and deadstock materials to minimise waste in their production. I also formed partnerships with small textile shops in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital, to source beautiful wax print textiles from their businesses. All the fabrics from their shops are made in small quantities, which is why we only have very limited stock of each cushion made. 

Besides our consideration of materials, we made an agreement with a social impact tailoring business in Denmark, Huset Venture. They hire individuals in need of employment, who can work as little as 1-2 hours a day, while earning valuable training in different areas of the business. 

Sabine and Pia are some of the women working here and sewing for Mumutane. Being a part of Huset Venture has made their lives and every day more stable and safe. Working in collaboration with Mumutane has provided them with new energy and self-confidence and let them know their that their skills are needed and that they are making a real difference. 

In Abuja, Mumutane also collaborates with a small tailor business driven by a mother and daughter. They have a few employees - mainly young women - who they teach how to sew. During our collaboration they have made different accessories for Mumutane, and they are now using our tote bag design to create and sell in their own product assortment. 

Discovering the B Corp movement

In 2020, I came across the B Corp movement. In the beginning I couldn’t believe that an organisation had captured all of these fantastic perspectives of doing business in one complete certification. I was very excited and decided to look further into the assessment. 

At first glimpse, it was overwhelming and looked tough, and still so at my second and third walkthrough! Everything was well thought through, and I could see that this was a real challenge for Mumutane to become a part of. Nevertheless, I thought it was meant to be. There was a purpose for me to become part of the B Corp movement!

How did the journey begin?

So I decided to set myself the goal of getting Mumutane certified as a B Corporation. Another 32 Danish companies were already B Corp certified, so why shouldn’t I be able to see this through with Mumutane. I challenged myself and took on a Pippi Longstocking mindset: ‘I haven’t tried this before, so I’m sure I can do it’.

During the process, which felt like taking another full-time job on my shoulders alongside running Mumutane, I almost gave up several times. I asked myself if it was too time-consuming, too difficult, is it really the right priority, is it important enough?

But I also told myself ‘now you’ve already spent so much time on the assessment, don’t make that time useless’. I recalled my objectives for founding Mumutane and said to myself that ‘consumer behaviour will change and will become more critical, therefore being able to document how you make a difference will be even more important and necessary in the near future’. 

The final step 

I was right. I learned so much from the journey. I had never imagined that it would take so long, and I would’ve worked so hard and spent so many hours on this, but the satisfaction of achieving the certification was huge. On the 10th of December 2021, I got a fabulous email that Mumutane had achieved 88.3 points which was a great deal above the minimum of 80 points for certification. 

The end is only the beginning 

The exciting thing about B Corp is that the journey has just begun. Going through the assessment, the iterations and the reviews was just the beginning. Now it’s time to improve all my processes, think the impossible and walk that extra mile to achieve the best way of doing business for people and the environment. 

It is of great joy to me that Wolf & Badger recognises small, independent companies and designers who walk the extra mile to create ethical businesses. It’s inspiring for Mumutane to be a part of this community, which can help my business grow and help even more people in need. 

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