Better Know a B: JoJo Maman Bebe
JoJo Maman Bébé offer gorgeous, quirky yet practical maternity and baby clothes designs, toys and other products, all supported by excellent customer service while putting people and the planet before profit.
Tell us a bit about the history of your company?
Founded in 1993 by Laura Tenison, our founder & CEO, because she needed a job and spotted a gap in the market. Her aim was to design and retail French style baby wear with a humorous British design twist. Her management style was based on her principles of 'waste not want not' and 'do unto others as you would have done unto yourself'. This founding ethos development into what we now call CSR and Environmental Policies, but it stems from common sense and a love of people and the planet - above all else. She and the directors of JoJo believed that success should be measured by what we achieve not just the money we make.
Why did you become a B Corp?
Laura wanted to find a way to secure her's and the company ethos for longevity to ensure that in the future new directors of JoJo would never compromise the company's culture in pursuit of further profit. Having researched various options from Employee Ownership Schemes, to Fair Trade applications, to becoming a Not For Profit Organisation, she came across Certified B Corps. These companies appeared to be aligned with JoJo values and did everything she was hoping to achieve. Applying for the certification was the obvious solution to her concerns about the future of the brand she had founded and worked on alongside an amazing team for so many years.
What excites you about being part of the global B Corporation movement?
Having felt like a fish out of water as we grew the business with our strong code of moral conduct, we are now meeting and swapping ideas with like minded businesses and people. It's like meeting a large group of people and realising that they could ALL be friends. Its just makes us feel that we are no longer alone and we are hoping to swap ideas which could be mutually beneficial.
Can you tell us about the impact that your company is having in the world?
We believe that the most important thing we can do is create fair and ethical employment within a culture of respect. JoJo is a design and retail business like so many others but our point of difference is that we question everything we do to make sure that we are being sensible about our environmental impact and that our teams, suppliers and customers are always being given the very best consideration. Profit is necessary for business to survive and grown, but should not be the only way to judge success. We love our diverse teams, our recycling and our charity initiatives. We are proud of what we have achieved - from great designs to innovation and new ways of doing business.
What benefits have you seen since certification?
It's really a little early to tell, we are only just there! But we are really excited to be attending the American B Corp Champions Retreat next month. We hope we will be able to make some good contacts to further our new business stateside and promote the JoJo way of doing business.
How did your other staff react to the certification?
Our teams are really proud. They know what we stand for and work for us because they believe in our culture, but achieving our certification is the icing on the cake - it endorses our values to the outside world.
What has changed in your organisation as a result of taking the B Impact Assessment?
The B Impact Assessment was challenging but so eye opening. It made us ask questions and consider areas of our CSR which we never had before. We had to carry out quite a bit of research and were able to take on board some of the suggestions immediately - all ideas which will help our business in a positive way. For instance we have now set up an independent Whistleblowing line so that our teams have an opportunity to report back anonymously if any of our business areas fall short on our ideals.
What does the year ahead hold in store for your company?
We are really excited about our new maternity collection which is just the best - really affordable and easy to wear, but such fun. Our baby & children's ranges continue to go from strength to strength and we are watching the business double turnover in the US year on year. We have been a great British brand for over 20 years; its now time be became a great Global brand - offering everything from Pregnancy to Pre-school. We are currently the ONLY Certified B Corp in our specialist field.
Who is your B Corp crush?
I guess being in the Pregnancy and New Baby market we would love to meet all the amazing baby food manufacturers who are already B Corps. There are some great joint marketing opportunities for those selling into the same niche market.
It’s 2020, 5 years since you certified as a B Corp, what does the movement look like?
We have been campaigning for years to corporate businesses and anyone who will listen that you can do well whilst doing good. Our Founder & CEO travels the country and abroad giving speeches and citing case studies of how businesses run for more than just profit survive for longevity, are often more reliable, and more profitable over a period of time. We are hoping that being a Certified B Corp will help give us a voice to make this movement recognised and respected by all consumers.
What is inspiring you at the moment?
City of Thorns: 9 Lives in the World's Largest Refugee Camp, by Rawlence, because I'm so ashamed I never knew up to 5 million people live as refugees in Kenya and have done for 20 years; The Archers, the British Radio soap opera has become addictive listening; Akala - With his Conscience Rap as Opposed to Gangsta Rap, he's a cool educator