B Corp Certified – the people, passion & sustainability behind BotanicaOrna Villazan, BSc, ND
April 19, 2022
I’ve always believed in supporting businesses that align with my values, but how do you determine which ones those are?
I was excited to connect with Matt Breech today to learn a little more about what B Corp Certification is and how it might help guide me to pick and choose which companies I want to support.
Matt is the co-founder and CEO of TallGrass Natural Health, the parent company to Botanica. As he was speaking to me from his home in Vancouver, sharing his mission and his passion for his company, I came to realize just how much I had been craving something to inspire me. Little did I know how moved I would be by all that Botanica aspires to be.
“The B Corp movement is one of the most important of our lifetime, built on the simple fact that business impacts and serves more than just shareholders.” — Bcorporation.net
What led you to create Botanica as a natural supplement brand?
MB: A lot of plant medicine can be very intimidating if you are not well versed in it. We wanted Botanica to be a brand that was of the highest quality but also offered products that people could easily incorporate into their daily lives and become familiar with these different plants and how they can benefit their lives.
What was the inspiration to get B Corp certified?
MB: Botanica has always been committed to a triple bottom line philosophy – people, planet, profit. A business that is not extractive in nature, does not diminish the Earth’s resources, and does not exploit our team’s efforts. Everybody is benefiting, everybody is winning. We’ve always run the business with these values.
We were doing all of these investments and projects but we didn’t have a framework to measure and share it. The initial goal to get B Corp certified was a way to show our team and our customers all that we were already doing.
As it turned out, as we went through the whole process, we scored very high. This was in part due to our governance and internal policies, but a lot of it was around our environmental impact, including all the organic agriculture that we support in the products that we sell. We also really invest in our team, our people, and in our community – we participate in many charitable and non-profit endeavours across the country.
The process was great as well as there were ideas of new policies we were able to adopt. It was wonderful to become part of the B Corp community.
Can you give us a few examples of these projects?
MB: There’s a lot we make time for that can help and engage with the community, helping people on their way and building that organizational strength.
- We have a volunteer program in which employees get paid days off to volunteer in the community. This was actually an idea that came from B Corp and that we implemented a few years ago.
- We are allies to many small businesses, non-profits and charities. It’s more than just financial donations, we also donate other resources, namely our time and expertise, helping these organizations in areas where they are struggling or need extra support (marketing, social media channels, HR and legal)
- We support the Fresh Food Donation Station in Vancouver, a program that collects fruits and vegetables and other food items at our farmers markets for distribution to food programs in the community.
- I make time for mentoring. For example, with the Forum for Women Entrepreneurs I get paired up every year with a young female entrepreneur that needs help.
What challenges have you had to face over the years to get to where Botanica is today?
MB: It’s quite difficult to build a business that honours all these values and still be a profitable and growing business.
Our biggest challenge of late has been our supply chain. We have gotten to a certain size where, because of our high standards, our artisanal production methods, and our very careful selection of raw materials, it is very hard to scale up. As a brand grows, it has to have a supply chain that is able to deliver – that is reliable, predictable, and consistent.
In the last few years, we’ve been working hard to improve our supply chain, our sourcing and fulfillment, and our manufacturing processes to help keep us growing. All while supporting a green economy. As a result, we’ve slowed down our expansion of growth in order to make sure we can keep up.
What do you love most about Botanica?
MB: To me, Botanica is a movement, a journey.
We are a brand that has really high standards – in terms of ingredients and their efficacy for consumers who are using the products to benefit their health. People rely on us to help them be healthy. We put a lot of emphasis on education to help consumers to learn about being healthy. It’s not just about the product, it’s about the lifestyle.
And the journey is building that into a successful organization that is scalable, sustainable, is going to be here for a long time, and can reach more and more consumers. We want to gradually move the needle on people’s health, but also on our food system, on sustainable agriculture, and on B Corp organizations and businesses.
Business is a very powerful force in our society. The more businesses that are B Corp and share these values and the more that people see these businesses be financially successful, the more this motivates investors and employees to get involved.
I’m really proud of all the effort that our team puts into making these amazing products and hopefully consumers are seeing those results in terms of the quality of the products that they use, that they notice the difference, and come back for more.
“I believe you can have a really successful career and still have these values – you can do it all, but it has to be purposeful.” — Matt Breech