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Big Idea: An ecommerce marketplace for sustainable products that are "designed with a conscience."
Why It's Working: Holstee is driven by its social values and not a race for profits. Yet, the revenue still pours in as consumers become emotionally attached to its vision and mission. The company gives back by investing in entrepreneurship abroad through microfinancing, helping others to scale their businesses.
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Holstee started small -- the company made t-shirts with a holster for your phone. Holster + tee = Holstee. Having gone through the manufacturing process, Holstee Co-Founder Fabian Pfortmüller says he and the rest of the team realized their concept had potential to change the retail industry.
"We believe that people are hungry to know: Where's a product from? Where is it made? Why does it matter for me to buy the product?" Pfortmüller explains.
Armed with this new philosophy, Holstee expanded into a marketplace for sustainable and upcycled goods. Rather than pushing the "buy local" angle, Holstee makes consumers lust after its goods by creating a lifestyle and living for a manifesto, not profits.
"For every big decision, we make sure that we don't only look at the numbers but also think about why we're doing it in the first place," says Pfortmüller. It always comes back to the Holstee Manifesto, which dictates myriad ways to assess success aside from revenue. "We wrote down everything we believe in, everything that is important to us," says Pfortmüller.
And that earnestness and candor has resonated with consumers. On Black Friday, one of the year's biggest shopping days, Holstee -- believing that family and friends lead to more happiness than a new tee -- shut down its website and left a note encouraging customers to spend time with family, not money on unnecessary items.
That's not the first time Holstee has shunned revenue for a cause it believes in. Through a partnership with Kiva, Holstee invests 10% of its gross revenue in microfinance to help artisans in the developing world scale their business as Holstee scales its own. What Holstee loses in cash, it gains in brand value. Customers have an emotional connection with Holstee, and that brings them back as loyal customers in a way that Amazon does not.
The socially conscious and responsible business model is working. Check out the video above to hear Pfortmüller discussing Holstee and its mission.
Series presented by GE
This story originally published on Mashable here.
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