Green.org sat down with Kate Fosson, founder of Brand Pollinators, who discusses the importance of incorporating sustainability into brand communication.
Kate, thanks for being here. Tell us a little bit about you and your background:
I grew up in New Hampshire and when I graduated from the local university (with a degree in Communications…and a focus in Rhetoric, actually) I was recruited to work for a big corporation. I didn’t feel super connected to the work – actually I felt like the work I was doing was directly opposed to my values – so I left one day without a plan. I drove West until I reached the Pacific Ocean and started from scratch, looking for work that was more meaningful.
I took seemingly random jobs, but it was actually very purposeful — I worked for companies I wanted to work for. (Unfortunately, that meant working for minimum wage). I had to work several jobs to make ends meet, and it wasn’t pretty, but to me there wasn’t another option. I needed to feel like my work was contributing to something bigger, even I was only a small part of it. I began working my way up, but then I met my husband and I had to change my strategy…
He’s in the Navy and being with him meant moving to a new city every 2 years. So, I started my own company. Again, this just didn’t feel like a choice to me, I wanted to do meaningful work and that was the only way I saw to maintain consistency with our new lifestyle.
I kept pretty busy working with small agencies and early-stage founders. As time went on I took on bigger roles and really learned all facets of building a company. I eventually got an MBA and started Brand Pollinators with my co-founder Channing. We focus on providing marketing and branding support for emerging impact brands, and it’s truly fulfilling to spend my days talking with people who are changing the way we consume products.
What is a fun fact about you?
I’ve lived in at least 15 different cities, across 10 states. (Mostly thanks to the biannual moves with the Navy)
Why do you think climate change and sustainability is such an important topic today?
Humans require a pretty delicate ecological balance in order to survive, and sadly, I think we have exploited enough natural resources and created enough waste to cause a disturbance in that balance.
It’s possible that we could live sustainably on the earth for thousands more years, but probably won’t happen unless we make a significant shift in how we treat the planet.
That’s why it’s so important to keep the conversation alive and engage people at all levels — it has to be a collective effort in order to be successful.
What do you envision your industry looking like 10 years from now?
I work with a lot of CPG brands (consumer packages goods) and I hope we’ll see that industry shift away from single-use plastics and move into more bulk / reusable / compostable formats.
I also expect to see a lot more brands incorporating sustainability from an early stage and having those values baked in from the beginning.
The next generation is demanding companies to be more transparent and more responsible for their impact. It’s only a matter of time before the truly impact-driven brands rise to the top.
What can the average person do to make a difference?
As a marketing professional I know how powerful word of mouth can be, and as an entrepreneur I know that every big thing starts small. That said, the “average person” has a lot to offer when it comes to making a difference.
Honestly, I think the best thing we can do as individuals is to lead by example. You never know who you might inspire by bringing you own reusable containers for restaurant leftovers, or sharing the reasons why you didn’t take a flight, or volunteering your time to clean up a beach.
Systemic change is slow, but it will never happen if enough people decide that their actions don’t matter.