Good Cause: Jess from FRANK Stationery
Last year I purchased some beautiful diaries for a range of friends and contributors to Do Good Jobs. I loved the fact that my purchase also meant a child somewhere in New Zealand also received a notebook at school too – win-win! Since then I’ve become mildly addicted to my FRANK diary, a diary that focuses on not only my to-do list for the day, but also “who can I be today” and the things I am grateful for.
I wanted to find out more about the people behind this great social enterprise. So, here goes my interview with Jess Holdaway, one of the founders of FRANK stationery.
Jess, are you a stationery addict?
I am 100% a notebook, diary, journal addict! I have been collecting them since I was young, but have managed to fill almost every single one to the brim with my thoughts and memories of years gone by.
Tell us a bit about what FRANK Stationery is all about.
FRANK Stationery is a stationery company based out of our home in Auckland. My partner Jason and I founded it in 2012 and have been passionate about making beautiful stationery ever since! We also give school books to children in need with every purchase that someone makes.
The reason we created FRANK was that sometimes life feels like an unrelenting onslaught of jobs to do and appointments to make, where our authenticity and humanness is pushed aside to make way for survival mode. We find ourselves simply functioning, the very essence of who we are a faint memory from a time less busy and overwhelming.
This is why we created FRANK – a return to authenticity, placing the focus on not ‘what do I need to do today’ but ‘who can I be today’. Stationery that empowers you to be you, in all your beautiful human glory.
We believe that by being fully, uniquely ourselves, we can make more of a meaningful difference in the world around us. With this in mind, we are intentionally cultivating a culture of giving because we feel we are our trust selves when we pour love into our community..
Can you explain the buy-one-give-one model?
Whenever you purchase a book from us, a school book gets donated to a child in need. We track all our sales online and instore and then give that same amount of school books to children in need.
Currently, 295,000 children in New Zealand live in poverty while approximately 1 billion children worldwide are living in poverty. Every book that gets donated not only supports children in need but also equips schools to be able to provide the best education possible.
What was your biggest learning curve in setting up Frank, did you have any business experience before this?
One of our biggest learnings curves has been the realisation that things often take a lot longer than you think. We started FRANK with very little business experience. So this learning came down to a number of things like lack of knowledge, lack of finance or even how long it takes to create something great.
This will always be something we wrestle with so we try and fill our knowledge gaps by reading and meeting with people who know more than we do!
How do you balance the need to make a profit and do good?
The amount of good that we do isn’t based on a decision we make every now and again depending on how well we are doing, it is deeply built into the way we run the entire business. So for us, the focus is like any other business; to grow. The more we grow the more we give.
This has made things simple for us!
Do you have any tips for budding social enterprise entrepreneurs?
We have seen heaps of social enterprises start with ‘doing good’ as the main priority and then tacking on ‘this is how we could make money’ as an afterthought. There is a difference between charity and business and it’s important to make that distinction when starting your idea.
If you are going to start a business that does good, you still need to make sure that your product/service is amazing and is what people are willing to pay for. Is your product/service competitive apart from the giving/doing good aspect? This is an important question to ask yourself.
Is social enterprise the new charity?
I don’t necessarily believe that social enterprise will replace charity, but I do believe that each of these industries is changing as consumers demand more transparency and authenticity in each.
There are charities who are extremely successful in what they do and we need them! But I also think the world needs more social enterprises to be run successfully so that consumers have more choice and options to do good through everyday buying! Imagine walking through shopping mall knowing that each brand on offer does good for humanity!
Why do you care about doing good?
Setting up our business to directly give back to children in need was always an absolute priority for us. We have always felt a connection to the community around us, understanding our part to play in everyone’s lives and stories.
We are acutely aware of our own privileges and how we have been brought up in a life where everything has been given or nurtured by someone else. We don’t believe that anyone is self-made, and because of this, we feel so excited to be able to re-gift what we have been given to others around us!
To date, we have given just over 45,000 school books to children in need. You can read more about our latest give back on our blog.
What should people look out for in the 2018 diary?
Next year’s diary is themed around ‘Purpose’! We are super excited to share it with everyone and it should be hitting various shops shelves soon…
Finally to wrap-up, do you have one must-read book on social enterprise you suggest others read?
One book that we have LOVED and refer back to quite a bit is:“Make Your Mark: The Creative’s Guide to Building a Business with Impact” By 99U
Thanks Jess. FRANK Stationery makes the perfect Christmas pressie too, so check them out here: www.frankstationery.com