In today’s installment of the Spoonflower Small Business Handbook, we’re touching on a topic that can help define your business: mission statements. While they can feel daunting at first, Rachel Cooke, the founder of Emmy+Dove and a 2019 Spring Small Business Grant recipient, is here to help you find your voice and put you on the path to writing a meaningful mission statement.
Rachel: Two years ago, when I started my business Emmy + Dove, I was aimlessly making cute clothes for little girls. I chose adorable prints from Spoonflower and soon found myself sewing for eight hours everyday as business picked up. It was wonderful to see so many orders coming in, but as I sat mindlessly sewing rompers and dresses, I found myself wondering, “What am I DOING?”
I was sewing clothes, that much was obvious, but I did not feel fulfilled. I felt like something was missing – a purpose perhaps? I have always been the type to question things, look for deeper meanings and get creative with solutions to problems I was not even aware I had. I decided that if I wanted to keep making clothes (and I really did) then I needed to find a way to inject the things I was passionate about into my business. I wanted to make a difference. I wanted to teach ideas and positive philosophies to children. I wanted to help the world in any way I could. As it turned out, my business was the perfect way to start doing that.
Now, Emmy + Dove has evolved into a clothing brand that gives back and teaches positive values at the start of childhood. We like to say that our clothes won’t change the world, but the little girls who wear them will. Our brand focuses on education, inspiration and empowerment through children’s fashion. We use our pieces to educate little girls about powerful women in history, empower them with the stories of women just like them who have done incredible things and inspire them to give back. A portion of every sale is donated to charity–and our customers get to choose which charities they want to support when they checkout. We also reward our customers when they choose to resell their used Emmy + Dove items in an effort to encourage circular fashion trends within our community.
Businesses have a responsibility to do more than just make money, especially in the fashion industry where the environmental impacts are so large. We have to do more with our efforts to benefit the people around us and the world we live in. Having a mission statement is an important thing from a humanitarian perspective, but also from a business perspective. 83% of Americans are more willing to buy a product with a positive social or environmental impact. It’s no longer a question of whether or not consumers care about social impact, we know they care. Now, it’s a matter of figuring out how to creatively and successfully integrate positive social impact into your brand. Defining your mission statement will help you hone in on the work you want to accomplish and how you’ll use your platform to tell others why that work is important.
Let’s look at Patagonia as a good example. Their social impact is expertly woven into their brand. It’s evident on their website but most importantly, it’s present in every aspect of their business and branding. Their mission statement is: “Build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis.” That’s exactly what they do! They implement programs within their business that allow them to help the environment and they use their platform to inspire other businesses to do the same.
Crafting a strong mission statement is as important as developing the social impact created by your brand. Your mission statement needs to be clear and concise. You need to get the point across in one sentence that reads professionally and passionately all at once.
Emmy + Dove: To use children’s clothing to inspire, empower and educate little girls.
Spoonflower: To inspire and enable creativity.
Warby Parker: To offer designer eyewear at a revolutionary price, while leading the way for socially conscious businesses.
JetBlue: To inspire humanity — both in the air and on the ground.
All of these mission statements hold the businesses accountable for the work they want to do and the change they hope to make. They show consumers that these businesses care about more than just money. These mission statements talk the talk, and the websites, social media campaigns and actions walk the walk. Develop the change you want to make, explain it in one sentence and then, focus your energy on developing a plan to actualize your mission.
In today’s world, when so many have so little, and all of us are living on a planet that cannot sustain us forever, there are many things that we can all choose to rally behind. What inspires you? Where do you want to help? Get creative with the solution to the problem you want to solve, and do everything you can to sustain that problem solving within your business.
When a business with a positive social message makes an impact and finds success in their business, it inspires and encourages other businesses to do the same. The goal should be to one day be completely rid of the terms “social enterprise” or “socially responsible business.” They’ll just be called businesses and they’ll all be socially responsible. I’m passionate about inspiring the next generation of women; What are you passionate about? Use that passion to turn your business into something bigger than you.
When I work on my business, I compartmentalize my time—I have to! I know how much time certain tasks will take and I organize them all within 8am-2pm when I work, that way afterwards, I can enjoy time with my kids and my husband without being too stressed about work. Sometimes I have to pull extra hours at night and on the weekends, but most of the time, scheduling my time helps me get it all done!-Rachel Cooke, founder of Emmy + Dove
About the Guest Author
Rachel Cooke is the owner of Emmy + Dove, a clothing brand for little girls that seeks to inspire, educate and empower through fashion. Rachel has degrees in Philosophy and Classical Studies and will be attending Law School in the fall with the aim of becoming a human rights lawyer. She has been sewing since she was a little girl, on the floor of her grandmother’s sewing room.