Up and Running

And they are off.

Image Courtesy of Wikipedia

Originally posted July 11, 2012  – Well, the website has been up and running since March.

In the last few months we’ve sold some beautiful pieces from our line of recycled outdoor furniture, comfortable non-toxic mattresses

, organic cotton linens, no-soot palm wax candles, carpet from our 100% wool and recycled content collections, HEPA air cleaners, recycled glassware, and bio-degradable umbrellas that are compliment magnets for their owners.

WorkingWonders is also most likely one of the smallest of the companies to have qualified for Chase Bank & Living Social’s Mission Small Business Contest. (THANK YOU!!!) In about a month, we gathered 255 votes from our community, which might sound like a small amount, but in reality is a big achievement. We pounded the pavement at shopping malls, coffee shops, and grocery stores to tell people about our business, and learned quite a lot from the experience. Continue reading

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Marketplace Solutions: Pinterest and Priorities

courtesy of wikipedia

courtesy of wikipedia

Originally posted on May 24, 2012. 100-million dollar investment in Pinterest, the social networking picture sharing site, marks the latest exuberant valuation of a company yet to realize a profit. Rakuten, the investor, might be seen as Japan’s version of Amazon, and they already have enough industry clout both at home and in the U.S. market to make their 1.5-billion dollar assessment of Pinterest less of a presumption, and more of a reality.

This is the tech industry. But with social media, and Rakuten in particular (who also own a portion of Buy.com), it’s also about selling stuff. Reaching more people and selling more products with the ease of the internet is a combination that yields optimism among investors. While we see value in it, we don’t share that same exuberant optimism for social media, a sector economists persistently say they don’t really understand. Continue reading

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Pushing the Green Economy Envelope

courtesy of wikipedia

courtesy of wikipedia

Originally posted on February 23, 2012. The Mainstream sentiment is moving toward sustainable trends faster than retail can accommodate. On the tail end of NMI’s report that 80% of Americans are green in one way or another, their research uncovers confusion on the retail landscape, a muddied picture of the sustainable living concept.

According to NMI, 66% of Americans say it’s hard to know which companies are telling the truth about their environmental record, and 40% admit they don’t know where to go for information about which products are environmentally friendly. Our brand identity is built around solving this problem of green confusion—when we say we’ll be a beacon for healthy homes, Continue reading

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Where is the Green Economy?

Courtesy of Wikipedia

Originally posted on February 10, 2012.  At WorkingWonders, we’re emboldened by Natural Marketing Institute’s report saying 80% of the American population is green in one way or another. It’s great news, but let’s not make the mistake of thinking the new green economy will simply materialize.

Broad agreement that serious environmental issues exist, the feeling that most Americans want to go green, and widespread adoption of recycling practices are steps in the right direction. The stage has been set, but a new green economy seems as invisible as the emperor’s new clothes. Add our frustration over a major disconnect between political bluster and current economic stagnation, and promises of a new green economy have clearly fallen short. Continue reading

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Brian D. Robertson, I Wish You Could Have Known Him

image courtesy of Amonix Inc.

The year 2011 is almost a wrap, but in keeping with the level of shock value it has had, it’s delivered one more punch on its way out. Brian D. Robertson, a remarkable Canadian-born entrepreneur, died this past Thursday at age 38. Brian was CEO of Amonix, a concentrating solar Originally posted on December 26, 2011.  PV company in California. But, before taking on that exciting challenge, he lived in Baltimore with his wife, Eileen, and their growing family, and was serving as the CEO of SunEdison, and that is when I met him.

We were in a course together, along with a fairly large group of people. I noticed Brian early on. Everything about him conveyed focus, purpose and conviction. Continue reading

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The Disneyland of Sustainability

Originally posted on November 29th, 2011. We’ve talked at length about social change, how we’ll create a revolution in the retail marketplace through a green-from-the-ground-up national brand.  What’s been lacking, however, is a glimpse of our dreams.

A store that enables change in the way Americans live must look the part.  Our vision is to realize this dream in the Village of Working Wonders, a sustainably built campus that does more than stock products on shelves, but also serves as an eco-tourism destination.  Our Village features integrated contemporary smart home design similar to Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater, filled with the materials and features of clean, sustainable living, beautiful arts from the best fair-trade and local craftsman, and a central structure as iconic to the future of American design as Disney’s castle is to the Magic Kingdom. Continue reading

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Getting Out of Las Vegas

Leaving Las VegasOriginally posted on November 7, 2011. As we look to build a strong economy, we’ve more questions to ask ourselves than ever before.  Chief among them is the sustainability issue.  How do we promote economic growth while at the same time making a shift to buying energy-efficient goods that have fewer detrimental effects on our health and the health of the environment? Here’s what colleague and friend, Casey Willson, wrote about this issue: “Market changes are required for the success (of sustainability and climate change goals), and the ultimate driver will be lifestyle changes of all people, especially those who are the early adopters in developed countries.”

Casey Willson* used these words in an introduction between the prominent organization founded with the help of Richard Branson, The Carbon War Room, and BethAnn Lederer, Working Wonders’ founder and CEO.  Working Wonders takes this mission very seriously because Continue reading

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The Destination is the Driver

Frank Lloyd Wright’s Falling Water (image source: wikipedia)

Originally posted on October 31, 2011. Let’s break this down: A website can only show you the products and services that represent the kind of sustainability we’re bringing to the retail marketplace—very specific information.  But when we talk about changing the retail landscape, we mean creating a new standard for retail space and the shopping experience it contains, something our founder and CEO, BethAnn Lederer, describes as “nothing like you’ve ever seen.” This is the driver for our brand, and we’re eager to share the vision with you.

We start with a smaller footprint. We’ll build within a reduced area compared to a big box store. But the important difference is really how we’ll build. Our destination will be designed and built according to the same sustainable standards upheld by our product lines and services.  You can expect a compact village of distinct buildings, all USGBC Platinum LEED certified.

Inside, we’ll mix showroom staging of our products with interactive features to expand our selection beyond what’s physically present, encompassing thousands of products while keeping our size modest. Another innovation: Because we truly offer a Green from the Ground Up approach, our energy efficient store will use the same architectural standards and supplies you can buy for your own home.

Beyond the interactive shopping experience, we’ll have consultation space for kitchen, bath, home office, interior, and architectural design services, providing you the opportunity to transition any part of your lifestyle—large or small—into a Continue reading

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Some(green)thing for Everyone

Originally posted on October 21, 2011. Valuable feedback from two different professional marketing consultants last week made me pause, and re-think how we are designing Working Wonders to serve all of our stakeholders as a business concept and  a benefit corporation change agent.

Natural Marketing Institute’s great research about who’s buying green products now led us to design Working Wonders, on the business concept side, in a way that it clearly serves the needs of the green consumers who are most able and willing to prioritize buying sustainable for the greatest diversity of products.

In my day-to-day quick elevator speech interactions, I identify the Working Wonders clientele as the same people who are grocery shopping at the new generation of healthier grocery stores. While it is true that is the group that gets the most excited about Working Wonders, feedback from one of the consultants has made me want to work harder to get out the larger concept and core messaging of Working Wonders as a benefit corporation. Continue reading

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A Good Price

A Good PriceOriginally posted on October 14, 2011. A couple is telling me about a rug they just bought. They talk about the great service at the store they got it from and how the color works with everything in the room. I’m waiting for the purchase announcement tag line. As if on cue, I hear the words, “…and I got it for a good price.” It’s meant to convey they paid less than the retail price, much less.

As CEO of Working Wonders, and someone who views a new retail landscape as one of the prerequisites of a sustainable economy, I hear the “I got it for a good price” mantra differently than most people. It’s not that I don’t think people should buy things at good prices. Quite the opposite. But I wouldn’t categorize any price as good on products where it’s the case that I don’t know where they come from or how they are made.

Blind supply chains trigger the same kind of alarm in me as when Cole Sear makes his memorable “I see dead people” announcement in the movie, The Sixth Sense. Actually a lot more, because in faraway places people really are dying as a result of making our things. Don’t take my word for it. Read award-winning investigative journalist, Loretta Tofani’s in-depth series, “American Imports, Chinese Deaths.” Continue reading

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