Céline Juppeau is the founder and president of Kotmo. In 2014, out of a love for her chosen profession in design, she gathered together a team and launched a business in order to revolutionize the world of promotional products.
Three years ago, I started analyzing the market, building my value proposition and, above all, thinking about what type of business I wanted to create. By building a business from the ground up, I would have the chance, or rather the opportunity, to create a company according to my own values and, especially, to build it using a business model that was different than that of the traditional corporation.
I am a designer by training and I have always been interested in objects, art, architecture, urbanism and everything that is around us. Over time, design has become very elitist. Designers do not have the working capital to create objects in large quantities, so they produce them in small series, which makes the cost of each piece very expensive for consumers. This business model distances good design from our everyday lives. So I wanted to bring design back, to allow more people to have access to well-designed objects. How? By selling to businesses. Corporations buy promotional products by the hundreds to promote their brands. For years these Asian-made, meaningless objects have been harming the environment. I broke into the market in order to show it was possible to produce these promotional items locally for a reasonable price thanks to greater production volumes.
The community as a pillar of our business model
From the start, I decided to integrate the community into our business model. By choosing local suppliers, we were able to be more competitive in terms of delivery deadlines and personalization for our customers. We selected our partner providers by considering the issues embodied in B Corp certification, which allowed us to identify considerations that were important to our business, namely having a diverse supply chain that included woman-owned companies, NPOs, start-ups and social economy and social reintegration businesses. This diversity allowed us to be more innovative. It was the foundation that enables us today to work hand in hand with our suppliers and guide them toward making their products more ecologically responsible.
From B Corp to non-stop improvement
We have been B Corp certified for a year and our evolution is only beginning. Once the certification is attained, we must constantly invent new ways of being more innovative and more ecologically responsible. The certification has allowed us to understand where we need to improve our business practices. We are in the midst of creating a program to guide our providers in reusing, reinventing and recycling unused production materials. B Corp allows us to work on all aspects of our business and thus ensure its sustainability.
Being an entrepreneur today means having an opportunity to change the world, to create a company according to your goals, values and ideals. The traditional business model is flawed. Several studies have shown that sustainable businesses will dominate worldwide by 2035. I believe it is the responsibility of every entrepreneur and future entrepreneur to create a more inclusive corporate business model. B Corp has guided us in this sense. It isn't the only answer, but it is starting to change capitalism. Everyone needs to decide where he or she stands!
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