A peek into our Social Good Mission
You can't outrun the bear
Choosing the features we need to be the best fruit leather social enterprise out there
As a social enterprise, I have always challenged myself and the whole team at Peaceful Fruits to balance the mission of a non-profit with the market-driven thinking of a high growth startup. I started the company because I wanted to continue the mission of economic empowerment and sustainability that I lived as a Peace Corps Volunteer in the Amazon. But I also wanted to make mission-based thinking more mainstream – and building a profitable business is one of the best ways to convince people this approach to capitalism isn’t just a dream.
I’m glad Mark Cuban agrees with my philosophy, but he – and the other Sharks – left it up to me to build a company that could actually execute on that. Just like any organization that runs on money (most), it comes down to return on investment. For Peaceful Fruits, though, the ROI is about both doing good and making money – and, always, trying to grow.
How to balance the competing desire to be the most responsible employer, the most environmentally producer, the healthiest option out there – with the simple need to survive and grow?
In those moments, I always come back to one simple maxim. It’s a cliché that may be out of vogue right now, but it’s words I live by.
You don’t have to outrun the bear, you just have to outrun your friend.
Now, I love my friends and I’m definitely not saying you should throw anyone to the bears! But the point is you don’t have to be perfect. Just be better and start running!
For example, Peaceful Fruits is always gluten free and vegan, we use only use fruit from suppliers that we trust and/or carry appropriate 3rd party certifications like USDA Organic and Fair Trade, and we never use syrups or concentrates. We use the best fruit to make the best fruit leather.
Nobody is going to outrun us for quality and purity... but you’ll notice that we don’t pay to be certified gluten free or certified vegan. Between our USDA Organic certification and the fact that the snack is just fruit we are already miles ahead of the competition! Paying for more than that is unnecessary and maybe even counterproductive!
Similarly, our mission of economic empowerment is what Peaceful Fruits is all about. We are incredibly proud to employ people with developmental disabilities in full wage jobs here in Akron, Ohio.
In real terms, that means those jobs – via our non profit partnership with Blick Center 501c3 – are at minimum wage.
That may not sound like much in a world with a big, meaningful debate going on about the minimum wage versus a living wage – and you can bet that’s something we think about a lot, more and more as we grow.
But the reality is that many organizations that employ people with disabilities are paying them far, far less than that. At some point we hope to be outrunning the bear on this one, but, in the meantime, we are 100% committed to at least doing the minimum that anyone deserves. It’s called minimum wage for a reason.
That’s just part of who we want to be – the best fruit leather social enterprise out there. If we tried to do it all, we might not be able to do any. But if we don’t do enough, it’s not worth doing it all. It’s a balancing act every day, but we are proud to be keeping at it. We hope you are too!