By Shea & Raan Parton
Photos by Ana Sierota, Sanyo, Laura Iz, Nicole LaMotte, Quincy Jones Productions, Anthropologie
The dust has settled on the holiday celebrations and we’re ready for all that’s to come in 2020! The past few weeks we’ve been gearing up by reflecting on our mishaps and success in 2019 while putting together plans to put our community first in 2020. As you know by now, we believe in sustainable business practices. Maybe that’s business jargon– but to us, this means we use business for good. We’re on a mission to break a poverty cycle in Bangledesh while providing quality long-lasting environmentally friendly products. With that mission in mind, we believe that transparency with our community is just part of the territory. As we did last year, we’ve distilled this year's big takeaways into three central questions we will use to help guide our vision for 2020 and beyond. Here, we share them with you.
1. Why is "less" actually "more"?
Back when we started Apolis, we wouldn't have guessed that our hottest-selling item would turn out to be the market bag. But our collection of customizable market bags continues to exceed our hopes and expectations, and we're happy to say that at the end of 2019, there are over 614,074 happy market bag owners across the globe — and we believe that we're just getting started. But what gets us most excited about this growing community of market bag owners is that every bag purchased benefits the community of Saidpur, Bangladesh, where the bags are made. And this is why less is more – by focusing on our best-selling product category we’ve been able to focus our efforts to increase our level of impact. In Bangladesh, we have hundreds of mothers working at the co-op and we’re able to provide them fair trade certified wages, annual profit dividends and a retirement fund.
2. Why is new apolis leadership all over 60 years old?
To us, experience is key. Over the years, we’ve bootstrapped Apolis learning a lot along the way. We’ve experienced the highs and lows of running a small business, we’ve failed and we’ve succeeded. With gratitude, we’re at a point in the lifecycle of our business where we’re ready to make more thoughtful and effective strategic moves. If we surround ourselves with leaders who have been there done that, we can ensure Apolis grows further in a sustainable and impactful way. We have no interest in building a business that fizzles out quickly – we’re here to impact lives and we’re well aware that doesn’t happen overnight. Because of this, we’ve aligned ourselves with renowned leaders in Marketing, Production, and Finance. Under their stewardship, we have high expectations and plans to impact the world for many decades to come. While our leadership is important – the company culture comes down to each individual's unique passions, talents, interests, and backgrounds. As #GlobalCitizens we practice what we preach. Los Angeles might be where we live, but the world is our home. Learn more about our leadership and team here.
3. How apolis is evolving and optimizing it's use of business for good?
By purchasing an Apolis product you’re supporting a business focused on impact – your purchase changes the kind of world we live in. At the end of 2019, we're so grateful to have such a strong and happy market bag community across the globe and we’re approaching a million quickly! With this, we’ve been able to employ hundreds of mothers in Bangladesh and are able to provide and we’re able to provide them fair trade certified wages, annual profit dividends and a retirement fund. We've been able to see the impact on the community that this has had– for the first time, mothers are able to send their children to school, provide necessary life-saving health care, with the Market Bag we’re breaking a long-standing poverty cycle. In addition to our efforts abroad, we’re able to partner with local non-profits striving to better the lives of families here in the USA. During our #HalloweenImpact campaign we partnered with the largest Pinterest account, Oh Joy! to release our Black Petite Market Bag where with every purchase we were able to provide one day of diapers to American families in need through baby2baby. We are so grateful that through this campaign over 5,000 families received diapers and basic essentials to help care for their babies. Additionally, we continued our partnership with charity:water and because of our community, we were able to donate over $34,880.
Often times, doing good starts within. This year we focused on our internal and external workflows to speed up efficiency and quality for our community. We established quality assurance guidelines to hold Apolis and our co-ops abroad accountable in an overall effort to ensure a long-term satisfactory partnership. Additionally, we mutually seperated our partnership with our Japenese Licensing partner, Sanyo in late 2019 to focus our growth and foundation here in the USA. Here in LA, we’ve opened up our flagship store where we can print bags in-person, host events, and the space also serves as an office for our LA employees. This brings the customer and our employees closer than ever before inspiring ideas and solutions to serve our core customer. We even had to order a second screenprinter to keep up with the demand! For our hard-working employees in our, LA headquarter, we’ve proud to offer 401ks.
Regardless of how large we grow, we are proud to continue our dedication to the B-corp principles. Thank you for your continued support and for your choice to purchase from us, in turn, allowing us to use business for good. We look forward to seeing what the next 12 months hold.
Happy new year!
Below are some pictures from Apolis' whirlwind year.