My first week in the USA has been spent hanging out with ex-Peace-Corps volunteers in a city beaming with intellectual and cultural energy, Washington DC. And visiting an inspiring, understated apparel brand Certified B-Corp United By Blue – in Philadelphia what seemed to be an unlikely city to house such a forward thinking ethical fashion brand.
Walking through the streets of the Old City in Philly – it becomes really obvious why United by Blue has opened their flag ship store stones throw away from Elfreth’s Alley (tiny cobblestone alley, slice of colonial America, believed to be the oldest continuously occupied street in the USA). You notice Old City – Independent By Design stickers on most shop windows. Modern art Gallery’s next to community art spaces and vintage stores next to specialist tobacco stores. Feels like a cool place to live let alone shop.
So what have a learned so far?
Well thanks to a truly generous and welcoming professor Stephanie Fischer at the American University – I now have some insight in the legal structures of non-profits in the UK. The complexity of two-tier US Federal and State law and the similarities with company and non-profit registrations in the UK. For resources on IP in the USA and loads of other useful info check out LawForChange.org
The one legal structure that stands out from the rest is Benefit-Corporations. B-Corps are super exciting as they help businesses ensure they can make decisions to pursue a wider social or environmental impact – not just focus on proft. B-Corps Certification sets some clear frameworks to demonstrate the social/environment benefits of a company – making it easier for consumers to choose ethical alternatives! A chat with Brian the founder of United by Blue – where you can also get a delicious macchiato and pastries – has reinforced my belief in pursuing your business idea wherever you are. When I asked him why Philadelphia he simply said “…it’s not for any logical reason, this is where I met my now wife.”
Brian’s traditional approach to launching a business is refreshing in a world of tech-start-ups and social media overload. Looking forward to the 1 Year Celebration of the first United By Blue store tomorrow evening and possibly making a purchase of their fashionable outdoor bag packs.
Blacks and Cotswold if you are reading you need to step up your game and combine outdoor gear with some more fashionable brands like United by Blue (with the added bonus that they organise water way clear-ups near stores that sell their products).