Matt Richardson, cofounder of socially conscious company CAUSEBOX, has always had an entrepreneurial spirit. In college, he realized he could use that impulse for good and has since strived to give consumers options that are better for the people who create products and the planet we all share.
We caught up with him recently to talk about his company and the importance of socially conscious consumers. Here’s what he had to say.
Experience Life| What is CAUSEBOX?
Matt Richardson | CAUSEBOX is the best way to discover brands that are giving back and making the world better. Each season we curate between six to eight socially conscious products for women — in categories such as apparel and jewelry, homewares, skincare, and beauty products. Each company gives back in its own way, ranging from artisan impact and empowerment programs to radically sustainable skincare formulations.
EL| How long has CAUSEBOX existed?
MR | The Fall 2018 Box will be our 16th box — and will mark the completion of our fourth year! We started the company in Winter 2014.
EL| What inspired you to start CAUSEBOX?
MR | We believe that if consumers know that they have better options, and they know the stories behind these options, they’ll make better and more sustainable choices. The choice to support companies that care about people and our planet are some of the most important choices we make as humans. Ultimately, we all get to vote with our dollars and we need to realize the importance of our vote. If enough people continue to support social enterprises, there will be more social enterprises to support, and this has an enormous impact on the health and well-being of people, and the health of our planet.
EL| How is CAUSEBOX different than other online product-subscription companies?
MR | Our focus on brand stories sets us apart. We don’t just send our members a box full of products and expect them to try and figure out why we chose these products and who made them — we include a beautiful print magazine with long-form content full of rich storytelling, and beautifully styled product. We want people to not only know who made their product, but why that person made their product, what inspired them to start their company and use their company as a vehicle for good.
We’re able to be different than other product-subscription companies because we actually work with brands that have stories worth telling. Most conventional brands create products for profit alone, to fill some market void, or for strictly aesthetic reasons. We work with brands that create products to help people, educate people, and provide aesthetic alternatives to everyday products.
EL| What is the process you and your team go through to choose products for each CAUSEBOX?
MR | We receive dozens of partnership requests each week from brands wanting to be part of CAUSEBOX. A big portion of our job is curating those, and then reaching out to brands whose work and products we admire, and who we want to work with. We have a Merchandising Team who spends incredible amounts of time composing a seasonally appropriate, beautiful, and meaningfully curated experience for our members each season.
EL| How did you become interested in socially conscious products?
MR | That’s a tough one to pinpoint. I think that on some level, like so many others in the world of social enterprise, a light switch for me went off when I first discovered TOMS Shoes. Their mission to give one pair of shoes away for every pair they sold was so incredibly clear that it made it easy to digest the possibility of consumer impact — and it enabled a kind of giving that fell outside of the boundaries of traditional charity.
Prior to starting CAUSEBOX, I cofounded a stationery company with my same CAUSEBOX cofounder, and we donated a book to children without access to literature for every set of cards we sold. That eventually evolved into CAUSEBOX, because we recognized that companies like ours needed help getting discovered.
EL| How are the values of these companies influencing your own life choices?
MR | Apart from supporting the companies that we learn about and partner with via CAUSEBOX in my everyday life — and making a point of choosing sustainable, ethical products and clothing — I have a deep passion for the outdoors, and a belief in the connectedness of all people. This has caused me to educate myself about the environmental impact of so many of the decisions we make every day.
One of the first and most obvious shifts that I made in response to what I’ve learned about the environmental crisis was the shift to a vegetarian diet. It felt like an obvious and important expression of values that are built into our business.
EL| How many charities have you helped since you’ve started CAUSEBOX with your proceeds?
MR | It’s hard to say. So many of the companies we support also support charities themselves — and contribute proceeds from our partnerships to those charities. We’ve worked with more than 100 social enterprises and put thousands and thousands of artisans to work over the past few years.
EL| What are three small things that someone can do to become a more socially conscious consumer?
MR | Join CAUSEBOX, watch documentaries, and eat less meat. :)