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Published by Harmonia Norah, 2017-06-21 07:49:04




A business
that aims to
be ethical
at heart
and have
a healthy
bottom line
may seem
too good
to be true.
But Dublin-
born Joyce
Lanigan of
Raw Spirit
has reason
to believe
that ethical
is better for




to ensure
farmers and
are being

Photography by Murray Hall and T ake a moment to Russell James. Russell is originally from Australia and
Paola Ambrosi de Magistris think about what he’s maintained his easy-going Aussie charm and,
has happened combined with a natural talent for photography, he
to the food industry has risen to the top of his game. Russell shoots for a
in the last decade. Not so long diverse range of fashion and beauty brands, and our
ago, terms like ‘organic’ or ‘farm-to-table’ were calendar is full with clients like Vogue and Victoria’s
the bastion of the ‘rich hippie’ living in California, Secret. We also have our own ethical beauty brand,
driving an electric car – the rest of us just didn’t care. Raw Spirit, creating fragrances that are inspired by
Fast-forward 10 years, and today organic produce indigenous natural ingredients from around the
is commonplace; in fact, it has become one of the world. We pay a premium for our ingredients to
fastest-growing food sectors here in the USA. ensure farmers and harvesters are being properly
What I’m seeing happening in fashion and beauty looked after and we return a portion of profits
is something similar. A trend is emerging, which at the back to the communities we work with through
moment is not much more than a ripple, but one charitable projects.
that is likely to turn into a tsunami. Ethical fashion,
slow fashion or soul fashion, whatever you’d like to To me, ethical fashion and beauty is about
call it, is a small but growing trend headed in a being fair and paying attention to everyone in the
positive direction. supply chain to ensure that no one, (including the
I’m originally from Dublin, but through many environment), is being mistreated. It is about being
twists of good fortune and career changes I find a good corporate citizen and measuring success
myself living in Manhattan and in business with the on more than just the bottom line. Through our
world-renowned fashion and celebrity photographer, photography and beauty businesses I have a bird’s-eye
view of what’s happening in the world of art, beauty


“The web has and fashion and I see how these worlds are slowly team whirring the levers and running on our
LEVELLED turning. hamster wheels to make it all work. We are fuelled
THE by passion for what we do.
PLAYING Here in New York there is a group of us in the
FIELD fashion and beauty business who have got together When we started our business it was to try and
and given under the heading of Soulful Economy. We are a solve a problem and to fill a gap that we had
our small, raggle-taggle group of independent thinkers, social identified. However, unlike conventional corporate
socially- entrepreneurs and marketeers who have started wisdom, the gap we had identified was not focused
conscious brands with the express intention to do well and do on what the consumer needed, it focused on the
brand a shop good at the same time. I don’t mean this in any kind supply chain and the needs of the stakeholders in
window and of pious way, just simply that we believe that there is a that supply chain. We started by working with
A GLOBAL more sustainable and fair way to do business and that indigenous artists and communities in Australia.
PLATFORM we should work for purpose and not just for profit.
TO HAVE A We are all under-funded, over-worked and totally and We saw that the welfare/charity model had failed
VOICE” utterly committed to making things work! Our and despite the millions of dollars that poured into
challenges are all the same – it’s hard to get solving the problem, these remote communities still
investment, as a social business is never going to stack suffer from high levels of drug and alcohol abuse,
up if investors only consider the financial return on violence and incredibly high rates of suicide. Many
investment. It is hard to get buyers to take on your of these communities are bankrupt, not financially
brand as they don’t want to upset the status quo and bankrupt, but emotionally bankrupt – they have
finally it is hard to compete with the advertising had everything taken from them for generations and
dollars of the big brands and to find a niche within all have been unable to make any decisions for
that noise. themselves. This lack of empowerment and
self-determination crushes self-esteem and without
The new world, where we [ethical brands] all live, is self-esteem there is no basis upon which to build
online. The web has levelled the playing field and hope. It is against those odds that we managed to
given our small, socially-conscious brand a shop find so many incredible aboriginal people who still
window and a global platform to have a voice. have a fire in their belly and a deep connection to
Technology has enabled us to develop a business and love for their land and their culture, and their
without the overhead of bricks and mortar and allows fire became ours.
me to work from anywhere and I can check in on our
partners around the world. To have a look at our It was one of my aboriginal friends, Richard
website ( you could think we were Walley, who said it best: “We don’t need charity, we
huge, but it’s just me, Russell and a small dedicated need opportunity,” and we created our business in
response to that.
Ali Franco, Shelley Clay
and Joyce Lanigan - Three years on, we are a small but growing brand
Pappilion Enterprises, that has stuck to its principles, and works directly
Port-au-Prince, Haiti and indirectly with indigenous artisans, farmers and
harvesters in Australia, Indonesia, Haiti and the
USA. Our impact is not huge (yet), but in my
opinion even to change the world for a small
number of people, is better than not to try at all. I
have complete faith that in the next couple of years
we will be able to replicate the model we have
created and do lots more for the communities we
work with. If Raw Spirit succeeds, then our whole
supply chain benefits – we want to create a win-win
for everyone.

Having been a crash test dummy for social
entrepreneurship I would encourage any business
owner to step back and take a look at how they do
business. Look under the covers of your supply
chain and make sure that you are not inadvertently
fuelling bad practices somewhere else in the world.
You’d be amazed how a small tweak in what you do
can have a massive impact on those most who are
most vulnerable in your supply chain. We can’t fix
everything all at once, but becoming aware of where
your raw materials are coming from is definitely the
first step. I am hopeful that in my lifetime that the
terms ‘ethical’ and ‘sustainable’ fashion and beauty
will become the norm, not the exception.

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