A Journey to a Small Business with Purpose

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A Journey to a Small Business with Purpose

Guest post by: Devon Whalen, co-founder of Green Whale

One small family business has been on a slow, steady journey toward the development of a business that promotes sustainability and serves the community. Read on to learn about the twists and turns they’ve taken and the exciting path they’re on now to provide support for parents, teachers, and caregivers who want to raise kids that care about themselves, each other, and the world around them.

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Developing a Flexible Route to a Sustainable Destination

Like so many others, the pandemic rocked our world and gave us time to reflect on our situation. I left my job in higher education to keep my children home from daycare, which was the perfect impetus to launch something new. I am not sure my husband and I realized just where this new adventure would take us, though! 

Faced with a new opportunity, we set out to start a business that would afford our family the opportunity to meet our needs while living our truth. Together as a family, we’ve been slowly transitioning to a more sustainable lifestyle over the last dozen years. As we recognize that we’re in the midst of a climate crisis, we felt called to use our business to take our commitment to sustainability to the next level. Those broad dreams left us wide open to possibility and flexible to change—something much needed in the pandemic world.  And it was a good thing, too! 

Hitting a Roadblock

We developed Green Whale, LLC with the mission of serving our community and finding a way to promote sustainability. Initially, we wanted to marry my husband’s handywork with my creativity, so we set out to repurpose furniture from our local area. We focused on taking pieces that others did not want and giving them new life. Because our inventory was low-cost, our products could be low-cost, as well, which would provide a more affordable, sustainable alternative to the inexpensive particle board options provided by the local big box stores. I was excited about the chance to repurpose wood furniture to reduce resource consumption and waste and provide affordable, quality furniture in a low-income community. Unfortunately, my husband ended up working impossible hours in his day job, making it unrealistic to continue down this particular path. We needed a new way to reach our goals and live our mission.

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Taking a Detour with No Regrets

While home with my two toddlers, I was always trying to find ways to help them learn and grow in all ways—including growing into inclusive, sustainable, and civically-engaged children. While the Internet is large, I found it challenging to find many materials that helped me engage my children in this type of learning. Fortunately, my educational and professional backgrounds are in education, which allowed me to develop learning opportunities for them and recognize the power in my leading by example. That personal pain point and my own solution served as an “Aha Moment!” for me. If I was struggling to find resources to help me parent and raise kids that care about themselves, each other, and the world, perhaps other parents were struggling, too! 

And so, we pivoted and took a detour. We channeled our energy into thinking about what we do as a family to support our learning goals, including modeling behaviors, learning conversations, and engaging activities. From there, we slowly transitioned our presence online to reflect this new focus on parenting with our two-prong focus. This shift in focus has been warmly received and I’ve really found my groove.

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Mapping Out Our New Direction

In order to raise kids that care, we recognize that parents need to lead by example, as well as create specific learning opportunities. Therefore, our focus is on (1) educating the parent so that they can model behaviors for their children, and (2) providing resources and ideas to help parents feel confident in teaching their children.

To serve parents, we offer free educational blog posts free of ads on our website. Our blogs cover a growing range of topics to help provide parents with a solid base of understanding, as well as tools and ideas for educating their littles. We are also active on social media (Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook as @GreenWhaleLLC) where we provide daily information and resources.

We’re also excited about the development of our Play Your Plate gamified system for transitioning a person or family to a more sustainable diet. This resource helps a family work together to make small progressive changes in their diet in order to maintain the new, more eco-friendly diet for the long term. If families and caregivers can model and engage children in these habits early in life, the children can grow into adults who naturally eat a diet that is healthier for themselves and for the planet.  

Cruising into the Future

We know that the race is on now to take action against climate change. We’re hoping that by educating and empowering others we will see others jump start or continue their own journeys to a more sustainable lifestyle. This race won’t be won by a single family’s journey or business. But if we work together, we may just make enough progress to secure a future for our littles. 

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