Why Olli Ella put its brand values to the test with B-Corp Certification

For this lifestyle and homewares business, achieving the globally recognised stamp of positive environment and social impact is a brand value proof point

Chloe (left) and Olivia Brookman
Chloe (left) and Olivia Brookman

Sisters Chloe and Olivia Brookman, who had dreamed of creating something magical together since they were children, founded Olli Ella in 2010 with the goal of creating homewares, toys and apparel in a sustainable, environmentally conscious way.  

The brand uses ethical, fair trade practices with minimised reliance on plastics, while paying attention to craftsmanship and a desire to add value to the artisans and their communities. Its values are reflected in its products.  

“Whimsical, folk-inspired children’s toys, as well as stylish home decor and apparel that are manufactured in a way that is mindful, sustainable and genuinely environmentally conscious,” Chloe Brookman described the business to CMO.  

Its key brand pillars are People, Planet and Progress. These have a direct impact on the choice of manufacturing materials, such as incorporating recycled materials, seeking to nurture a positive workplace culture and prioritising values over profit alone.  

Now more than a decade on, the business has achieved certification as a B-Corp Certified Business, a rigorous process that verifies environmental and social performance, public transparency and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose. It evaluates every aspect of a company’s operations impacts, not only its workers and customers, but also the broader environment and community.  

Achieving the respected B-Corp certification is further validation, said Brookman, that the business is guided by its commitment to ethical and sustainable social and environmental practices.  

“The business is guided by an unwavering social and environmental compass - something that goes hand-in-hand with Olli Ella’s vision is to build an even bigger business as a force for good, while evoking “a sense of play, quirk and adventure”, Brookman said.    

The global context of B-Corp certification  

Olli Ella’s recent journey towards global recognition as a B-Corp Certified Business has been an important part of that evolution, Brookman explained.  

“Having a global governing body such as B-Corp holding us accountable to the fact that our three key pillars are more important than profit helps us stay focused,” she said.  

Credit: Olli Ella

This puts the brand in a global community that includes 280,000 workers in more than 4000 certified B Corps across 77 countries and 153 industries, according to B Lab. By 2030, B Lab wants to have contributed to an economic system that provides for benefits to people as well as communities and the planet.  

To achieve this, there needs to be targeted business action on the most impactful aspects of a business including its business model, supply chain and collective action efforts, according to B Lab head of standards and insights, Dan Osusky.  

However, the Lab’s new report has found action on the Sustainable Development Goals by business is at risk of stagnating, with many facing limitations on moving toward the goals while the challenges the world is facing are compounding.  

“It signals the need for both more individual action and a broader shift to our economic system to one that benefits all stakeholders,” Osusky said.    

Read more: Explainer: What is B Corp status?

Developing an ethical workplace  

“We create our collection with the planet in mind and we ensure a rich thread of diversity and inclusion - from gender to race - is woven throughout our designs, so all kids can be inspired to play and grow,” Brookman said. 

In addition, the brand’s ethical stance very much includes its workforce. For instance, it has long embraced flexible work and is mindful of managing out-of-hours availability. With 36 team members across international offices in Amsterdam, London, Los Angeles, Sydney and HQ Byron Bay, nurturing company culture is high on the agenda, and the B-Corp stamp helps here too.  

And although employees need to be contactable during traditional business hours, how they manage their workloads is up to them, with output seen as something measurable linked to KPIs, rather than linked to hours at the desk.  

With the B-Corp certification, Olli Ella now has its sights set on extending the reach of its ethical, environmentally aware product range to more countries and plans to focus on growing the senior management team.  

“Being a B-Corp also provides access to handy resources and aids in attracting aligned talent,” said Brookman. 

Despite enjoying international success, going through the lengthy and meticulous B-Corp certification process revealed a number of important learning opportunities that the sister entrepreneurs see as invaluable. For other business leaders keen to pursue their own listing as a B-Corp Certified Business, the advice from the Olli Ella team is to not give up.  

“Use the certification as an opportunity to really excavate your business practices and improve upon them. Use the process to really uncover how much further you can take your efforts, while equally celebrating what you have achieved already,” Brookman added.  

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You can also follow CMO on Twitter: @CMOAustralia, take part in the CMO conversation on LinkedIn: CMO ANZ, follow our regular updates via CMO Australia's Linkedin company page  


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