Socielle sells jewellery, beauty products, clothing, homewares and related items out of Australia. Its entire range is selected on the grounds of the products having a beneficial environmental or social impact. This focus on sustainability is translated across the business – all printed items use recycled stock and eco-friendly dye; packaging is limited, and local deliveries are sent using carbon-neutral provider Sendle.
The shopfunding programme works a little like Z Energy’s ‘Good in the Hood’ programme. For each purchase made through Socielle, the shopper gets points which they can then allocate to a cause run by one of Socielle’s charity partners. Current partners include OzHarvest; Sunshine Butterflies; SisterWorks and Wildlife Warriors.
Coombes says a lot of other retailers use programmes similar to shopfunding to pass on funds to charities, but Socielle’s complete approach makes it stand out from the crowd.
“It’s about that end-to-end solution,” she says.
Asked about the increasingly crowded social enterprise space, Coombes says she doesn’t regard competition as a threat, preferring for businesses to work together towards a greater ethical good.
“If I’m asked where our recyclable packaging is from, I’m willing to open up that resource in order to educate others.”
The business currently has four staff plus Coombes on board. Coombes measures Socielle’s growth in terms of “impact” – the number of people who’ve benefited through charity donations and/or employment linked to items bought on the site. More than 1000 people have already been impacted by Socielle, and Coombes’ goal is to reach 1 million by 2020.
Coombes also works as a consultant for other social enterprise businesses: “Anyone who works in retail, I try to get them to think more broadly.”