Blue Sky Resolution: Recognizing Companies Combining Profits and Ideals
Recently, Senior Fellow in Social Innovation Lynnette McIntire launched the website Blue Sky Resolution. We caught up with her about the inspiration behind this process and what defines a “Blue Sky” business.
Q. You’ve started a new website that features companies combining profits and ideals called Blue Sky Resolution. Why?
A. I’ve seen a lot of books, blogs, and conversations about what corporations are doing in this area. And I’ve seen a lot about social enterprises started by non-profits, but there are so many brilliant and dedicated entrepreneurs with small to mid-size companies that are largely invisible except in their local markets. These companies are offering innovation – in product design, unique business models ,and truly worker-focused environments. I think these companies deserve recognition. And often the stories of the founders are as interesting as the products they sell.
Q. What is a “blue sky” business?
A. These are the principles:
- Address societal and environmental challenges with a for-profit business solution
- View integrity, transparency and mission deliverables as important as the numbers on the balance sheet
- Find better ways to operate that minimize their negative impact on their neighbors, their planet, and society while maximizing the beneficial aspects of their business
- Use safe and responsibly-sourced ingredients
- View employees and suppliers as critical assets to success
- Support other businesses who also have adopted do-good missions
How do you find these companies?
A. Truly they are everywhere! Online, at farmers markets, in small shops on the Main Streets of small towns. Some are consumer goods companies but there are also interesting companies developing science and engineering based products. For instance, new eco-responsible materials for manufacturing and construction, plant-based plastics replacements, mushroom-based packing materials to replace Styrofoam…those are the ones that are hard to find but fascinating.
How did you come up with the name Blue Sky Resolution?
A. Most of these entrepreneurs have faced skepticism about their philosophies of combining ideals with profits. Merriam Dictionary describes “blue sky” has 1) having no value and 2) not grounded in the realities of the present. But the last definition is “having vision for the future” and I think that’s what these companies have. Each founder has resolved to bake principles into their businesses.
What are some of your favorite “blue sky” companies?
A. That’s like choosing a favorite child. They are all so inspiring! PLANTABLES is in Hudson, Wisconsin. It was started by an ex-special education teacher who realized that most of his students would be jobless for the rest of their lives after high school. So he started a business that utilized their unique talents and created a work environment that supported their abilities. It’s a worker-focused mission that a lot of corporations could learn from. They make lovely seed-based wreaths for birds and “bee bombs” which are clay balls that have seeds for pollinators which makes them support an environmental mission too. Finnegan’s is a Minnesota brewer who uses volunteer and fundraising events to create a community and a loyal set of consumers at the same time. It gives all its profits to its foundation which aims to alleviate hunger. Green Toys makes its toys from milk jugs, ensuring that the plastic is teething safe. My favorite baby gift now is their yellow submarine.
Read more about these businesses and discover others at www.blueskyresolution.com.