Toasted Earth

Simple Switch: Rachel Kois

August 25, 2021 Michelle Cunningham Season 1 Episode 13
Toasted Earth
Simple Switch: Rachel Kois
Show Notes Transcript

This episode features Rachel Kois, the Founder and CEO of Simple Switch. Simple Switch is an online marketplace for ethical and impactful shopping. Every one of the 3,000+ products sold on Simple Switch has a positive social or environmental impact and they aim to shift some of the hundreds of billions of dollars spent online this year to products that support orphan care, planting trees, combating climate change and more.

Rachel believes deeply in the power of entrepreneurship to solve some of our most serious global problems and started Simple Switch to bring ease and convenience to ethical and impactful online shopping.

Michelle and Rachel discuss how her internship in South Africa sparked her desire to support entrepreneurs doing good, why it's difficult for the everyday consumer to discover and purchase from these ethical businesses and how Simple Switch will make it easy.

Discounts:
Use the coupon code "TOASTEDEARTH" for 20% off your first purchase.

Relevant links:
https://www.simpleswitch.org/

Contact info:
hello@simpleswitch.org

Support the show (https://www.buymeacoffee.com/toastedearth)

Michelle Cunningham:

Hello and welcome to the Toasted Earth podcast, a show about founders, visionaries and environmentalists pursuing novel ideas in sustainability to, ultimately, save the earth. Im your host, Michelle Cunningham and for todays episode, we have Rachel Kois, the Founder & CEO of SimpleSwitch.org. Simple Switch is an online marketplace for ethical and impactful shopping. Every one of the 3,000+ products sold on Simple Switch has a positive social or environmental impact and they aim to shift some of the hundreds of billions of dollars spent online this year to products that support orphan care, planting trees, combating climate change and more. Rachel believes deeply in the power of entrepreneurship to solve some of our most serious global problems and started Simple Switch to bring ease and convenience to ethical and impactful online shopping.

Rachel Kois:

I was doing business consulting in a part of western Cape Town and was working with incredible entrepreneurs, they were so talented, truly much more talented than I was. And I was able to go in and just give them an extra set of hands and an extra brain on their business plan. And when I came home, I was really frustrated that the money that I was spending on normal things wasn't going towards supporting incredible entrepreneurs, like the ones that I had met. Instead, it was going towards, you know, the people I was learning about, were not caring for garment workers, or it was going towards big companies that were exploiting their employees, or just all sorts of different things and horrors, you know, of people dying, or really hurting the environment in all sorts of ways from manufacturing, to packaging and beyond. And so, you know, I was I was still in college and thought I don't really have, you know, a big solution I can do, but at the very least I can I can change where I shop. Right? Yeah. But yeah, I think that, because of that commitment that I wanted to make, I started looking into what options are there to shop ethically, and what options are there for me to find these companies that I really do believe in the values, and that are treating the people and the planet the way that I expect they should. And there wasn't a lot of options, it was just hours and hours of research. And there were a lot of great companies doing it, but no way for me to access those companies in any kind of easy way. And then I always say at the same time I was seeing companies like Amazon get easier and easier with things like there was this easy button essentially, I can never remember what they called it. But you could put it in your house and hit it when you're done with them. Like when you were out of laundry detergent or out of something and it would order more products for you. And so it just felt really frustrating to me to see that what the good that I wanted to do like with the whole boat for my dollar was so complicated and so confusing and so difficult. While the companies that were exploiting people in the planet was just getting easier and easier and more and more customers and more and more net worth. So simple switch was the way that I wanted to bridge that gap, just start something that's going to make it truly simple to switch to companies that are making a better impact on people on the planet.

Michelle Cunningham:

And was like the the hard part of the problem that it wasn't aggregated that you had to go find each individual business.

Rachel Kois:

Yeah, I think, um, non aggregation and then also lack of trust in education. So maybe there were places where, you know, I can find a list, but I didn't. So it was kind of one or the other either, I wasn't able to find them where I could buy them all in one place. And what kind of one stop shop one cart one click Buy all those easy, convenient things that were used to, or it was that convenient, but I couldn't really be sure that they weren't trying to trick me about their ethics, right? So it was maybe it was easy, but I had just like no trust factor or certification or like any kind of reason to believe them about the kind of impact that they were making environmentally or socially.

Michelle Cunningham:

So for you to actually go buy these products, you just have to do a ton of research. Like go look at each one, try and figure out okay, is this one actually like good? Are they greenwashing or like what are they?

Rachel Kois:

Exactly and then I would I mean, anyone who's tried to go on this journey, especially if you're at the beginning of this journey resonate that. It's it's just like a lot to learn. It's a whole nother language, especially with certifications, you'll see that something is like FSC certified for instance, and that is a certification that applies to wood and so it's like, oh, like I wouldn't have ever even thought about that. But maybe when I'm buying for instance, we have a pencil company that's FSC certified or you know, just there's so many just fabric certifications and ways that employees are treated various Fairtrade various B Corp various what does it really mean? If they just say natural, you know, it just it's like the hole hole that you fall into and try to figure those things out so.

Michelle Cunningham:

The thing with food that bothers me the most is the natural flavors on the label. What does that mean? Like that is not a thing.

Rachel Kois:

For sure, it's so no, we just did I just hosted on our podcast and interview with someone. She calls herself the ingredient Insider, and she's talking about toxic chemicals in general as she focuses on, like beauty products and things we put on our skin, but also in food. And so she was kind of helping talk even even me who I'm looking at these things daily, right? I still needed a clarification of, Okay, well, what should we be avoiding? And she pointed out flavors, and then write grants. If it says like, you know, this kind of anything that says fragrance, there can be anything from one to 1000 different types of chemicals in there. And so like, there's, they're proprietary, and so companies are able to not tell you what they're putting in there. And so yucky? Yeah.

Michelle Cunningham:

Yeah, that's fun. Yeah, just man, makes you feel great inside knowing that that's what we're eating and putting on our bodies. Okay, so you, you realize there's this problem, where it's really hard to find companies that are doing good for the world and like, trust them, how did you go from the problem to actually launching Simple Switch?

Rachel Kois:

So I knew at that point, what I wanted to start with an e commerce company, but I don't have a tech background. So I started my first six to eight months, kind of just floundering around looking for someone to build my website or someone to build, it was going to be a it was going to start as a mobile app. We actually do have a mobile app now. But we started this website. So I was was like, essentially stalking developers, I would like go to meetups and try to just like friend of friends figure out who would be willing to do this for me, essentially, for free. But you know, like for a partnership, and then I was introduced to Shopify, which is the platform that we now use by a business mentor that I met at, like a business speed dating event, essentially, it was just all of the knocking on doors and figuring out how am I supposed to take steps forward, I was so new, then once I got the website built and functional. I was, you know, working on bringing on partners. And and the same thing, I was kind of approaching these partners just with an idea. And luckily, a lot of them wanted to take a chance on it because they saw similar problem. You know, they saw that they were incredible companies doing incredible work and selling incredible products, but no one can find them because there wasn't really a place for them to sell that was specifically for ethical and practical companies like the ones that we now have, you know, and they were able to sell on platforms like Amazon, but were treated really poorly. And so I think us coming to them and saying, Hey, we really believe in the work that you're doing and want to support it. And that's the reason that we exist. So how can we how can we partner with you and make this reality. So since then, we've gone from, I think, like 30 products, or maybe close to 100, when we launch to more than 3000. And we're adding several partners daily or weekly. So really cool to see that grow into a little bit more of the dream of a one stop shop, right? Because we do have 1000s of products. But when you look at a company that has millions like Amazon, we would love to truly see a shift to I always say I would love for people to not ever have to say that we're an ethical and impactful marketplace, because we've gained so much market share that like the norm is just shopping ethically and impactfully. Right? Like everybody's just doing that. We would love to push out anyone who's not committing to those things. It's cool to see, you know, our generation and the generations below start to do those things and care about that.

Michelle Cunningham:

Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, I think more and more people are like becoming aware of the problems and really caring about them. So as you're bringing products onto your platform, what kind of process Do you go through to ensure like, these are the right products for simple switch.

Rachel Kois:

So we have an impact partner commitment, that's like the biggest internal standard that we have. So just make sure that companies are dining out that they are not using things like child labor, you know, any of the things that we're trying to avoid are generally in here. Same with kind of environmental also, we asked them to be constantly re evaluating those things. So that's one of the cool opportunities that we have, because we have both social impact companies and environmental impact companies. So we might see that one company is using this really empowering model to bring women out of human trafficking, but they're still using plastic packaging. And we've seen several of our companies, hopefully at least a little bit with our influence, move towards more sustainable packaging, because we've been able to show them you know, another one of our companies who is doing it successfully, but we do have in that impact partner commitment and ask that they are constantly looking at those things and working to improve. One of the other standards we have in there is that they're they're built around these values, right, it's not an afterthought. It's not a greenwashing thing like this, this is actually the reason that they exist is for the kind of impact that they're making. Then the other ways that we kind of ensure that those things are true because it's one thing for them to sign a commitment and for us to kind of be watching that ourselves. But we also look for third party certifications like B Corp fair trade some of those ones we were just mentioning that are different across industries. So we try to be you know we we aren't a list of B corpse and we aren't listed for trade. Companies because you know, we might look at a deodorant and it needs to be Leaping Bunny certified so that people know that, you know, there's not animal cruelty, but that's not going to apply at all when we're looking at like an electronics thing, because of course, there's no animal cruelty there. So kind of looking at what's the standards in their industry? What are kind of the big issues in their industry? Also, it's been a really interesting learning experience for me and to reach out and talk to other experts about kind of what should I be looking for when we're looking for a new title company? Or, you know, just all sorts of different things?

Michelle Cunningham:

Yeah, there must be so much to learn, like, I'm super curious about it to know like, what are all the certifications? What what, when someone's in each individual industry? Like, what, what do they care about when you think about sustainability or whatever?

Rachel Kois:

Yeah, and we're adding new things all the time, because we have that we have that. So we have shop by product section, that's like normal e commerce where you go on and you say, I'm looking for home goods, or a swimsuit, or you know, whatever it is that you're looking for. And then we have a shot by impact section. So going on and saying, I'm looking for something that fights human trafficking, I'm looking for something that is fair trade, or I'm looking for something that is, you know, a black woman of color, or you know, those kind of things we kind of go in. And so it's not that all of our brands hit every single one of those boxes, because what we're not doing is trying to exclude really impactful amazing brands, because they have it, some of the certifications are also pretty expensive. So that's another thing that I'll know is that we're not necessarily looking for always like, a sign off from B Corp because I I'm a B Corp. And I know that it costs $1,000 a year to be a B Corp. And so if we're working with a company that's like in rural Guatemala, who's empowering brands, like I've visited them and know that they treat their employees awesome, and they would totally qualify for some of these certifications. But I'm not going to like require them to have that.

Michelle Cunningham:

Yeah, that makes sense. It would cut out a lot of businesses, that could be really good. I did want to ask you about your So you mentioned the that you can shop by impact. And I you have an environmental impact section, what are the impacts that are in there and why are they important?

Rachel Kois:

Yeah, absolutely. So some of them have to do with the products themselves, I'm actually going to pull it up, so I don't miss any. But some of them have to do with the products themselves. So it's like the way that they're made, or maybe they're made of recycled materials, maybe they have an awesome like end of life, like maybe they're compostable, and where other options wouldn't be. But some of them are more about the packaging, maybe they have 100 climate, you know, one 100%, Climate Neutral, where they're paying for those carbon offsets. So similarly to the social impacts, there's a bunch of options. But I think the reason that these are so important, I mean, the big deal is just like we are running out of time, right? So I don't think capitalism and consumerism is going away. And so I think in between when people are learning these habits of being more minimalist and buying less, and things that are really important, we really need to bridge that gap with products that are a lot more responsible. And that's always such an interesting balance, too. We tell people, you know, don't buy from us unless it's something that you actually need. But we know that there are people who are definitely going to be buying things. And so we want to give them the best option to be as sustainable as possible.

Michelle Cunningham:

That's good to hear. Because I feel like there's this was it was the right word for it. It's like a latest perfection, like, like almost like a head to head thing of like you're doing you're doing something great and helping us buy the right products. But then like people buying things in general just isn't like, yeah, that great unless they actually need them. Definitely. So it's good to hear that, like you're thinking about that too.

Rachel Kois:

Totally. And we try to do good education about that. It's such a weird balance, because we're, we're tiny and we don't have big traffic. And so we do kind of have to yell like, Hey, we have products and like, please buy them. And also we're trying to do education alongside of that to say, but don't buy them unless you're already going to buy something. That's actually the whole reason behind our name right? is we're not, we're not buying more, we're not like simply purchase or like simply switch, like if you're going to be buying something. For instance, toilet toilet paper is a great example, we have several toilet paper brands, you're probably going to be buying toilet paper, unless you switch to a day, which I hear is a great option. But if you're buying toilet paper already, we would love for you to be buying toilet paper with us in a way that's more sustainable Climate Neutral, planting trees, building toilets, like some really cool impacts rather than just supporting like, Walmart or local grocery store, you know?

Michelle Cunningham:

Yeah, that totally makes sense. So is this like, is the actual experience for the customer any different from your typical online buying experience? Or is it mostly the same, just like they can trust that the products are?

Rachel Kois:

Good, I would say that we try to make it as similar to a buying experience that you would have as possible because that kind of removes the barriers of them having to learn how to do something different, right? Yeah, add it to your cart, pay with your card, get a confirmation, email, all those things. But I think the big difference on our site is that the fact that you can be filtering and shopping by impact, that's a big deal. And then We're constantly working on just the education portion. So like in most of our products, we're working on making this across all of our products, the description will have a link out to learn more about the company to learn more about, like what is zero waste even mean, it's a lot of content to keep up with. So we're certainly not perfect on this. But if you go in and you're shopping specifically, you know, I've mentioned some of our companies that fight human trafficking, and you're going and you're going to read in the description. This is a, you know, this is a piece of luggage. And so here are the specification, here's the colors, here's the size, but also here is how they're working to, you know, empower exploited women. And here's how they're doing that. And if you want to click here, you can learn more, or listen to the podcast or things like that. One of our company values is ease without apathy, which I think really wraps up this question of, we really want to make it super simple and not, you know, not complicated, not confusing for people to make these purchases, while also giving them the opportunity to engage intellectually and emotionally, with what the causes are and why these things are important.

Michelle Cunningham:

I love that. Are you seeing any, like cool patterns and what people gravitate towards, like in terms of either causes or products?

Rachel Kois:

Totally. Yeah, it's, it's been cool to see just like the wide range of things that people care about what my hope is that. And I've seen this, I think happen, obviously, I don't know everyone's intentions when they're on the site, but I'll see someone buy something from, you know, a socially impactful company and an environmentally impactful company. And my guess is that they came to our site looking for something specific or a specific cause, and then learned that they could also support other causes with their purchases. So that's been a cool trend to see, we do see a lot of people buying their everyday products with us. And we're actually moving towards allowing subscriptions for those things. So like, coffee, toilet paper, so because one of the big problems I have and you may be the same way is that I will do a really great conscious environmental sustainable action, whatever that may be. And then I may forget to do it the next time, right like habit forming that. And so that's why we're one of the reasons we're offering subscription so that people buy their toilet paper with us their hype about it, but then, you know, three months later, when they run out, they're not gonna be like, oh, shoot, now I need to go buy this plastic wrapped with a paper that I hate, because I forgot to order from simple stuff. So that's been an interesting pattern to see, as well as people being willing and excited to do that, because they want to make ethical shopping, day to day life. habit, you know, not just something that they do one time to make them feel good.

Michelle Cunningham:

Yeah, totally. I mean, I mean, you need people to like be coming back, right? Because then they're continually find the right products not being like, Oh, no, like he said, I forgot toilet paper. Let me go stop at the store by just you know, your typical toilet paper? Well, what do you think is the impact that you're having right now, maybe specifically on the environment, but also on other things, because I know you cover other types of impacts as well.

Rachel Kois:

So we as a company, personally are both Climate Neutral certified, and plastic neutral, certified. So just if you if you like, if we literally copied another ecommerce store, and everything that we sold, even Amazon, you know, any of those things, we would still be making a pretty big, I mean, we're a small business. So it's not like volume, wise, huge, but a big impact in the fact that we are offsetting all of the cost of manufacturing and shipping and all those things of the products that we sell through our Climate Neutral certification. And they also have us commit to that always be improving thing that they they have you measure and then offset and then also set goals for the next year. So as you continue to certify, you're always making your company more and more environmentally sustainable. So I love that just you know that the internally even regardless of the suppliers we're using, we're able to have that. And then plastic neutral, we're about to do a podcast with them. They are like that same thing, but you're you are paying to remove the same amount of plastic waste specifically like low quality plastic waste that wouldn't really be able to be recycled from the waste stream. My favorite thing about the way that they do it is that they are not only removing that kind of stuff from the waste stream and making sure it's disposed of well instead of going to oceans or landfills or things. But they're also really intentional about caring for waste workers. So they are paying like living wage. I just had no idea the statistics of how waste workers specifically in like South Asia are treated and they have like terrible health problems because of all the toxins that we're like exposing them to because they're like handling all of our trash with all of this like terrible toxin. So cool to be able, like I said, we're small so our costs of doing that. It's not like this huge monetary expense. But you know, if you buy shampoo with us that comes in a plastic bottle, you know, we all will also have zero waste options, but they're not all zero waste options. Then we're able to pay to offset those things and make sure that that is responsibly being removed and taken care of.

Michelle Cunningham:

Oh, so you do that for all products on your site that might have plastic in them? Not just packaging?

Rachel Kois:

Yep. So the way that it's, it's, it's been quite the process because they usually do it this certification, they're incredible. It's through repurpose global, they usually do it for companies that sell one thing for like one type of thing, right. And so for us, we've had to basically send them like this huge list of everything we sell. And then the way we've done it is every time we recertify with them, we send them like the last 100 orders, and then average, what do we think the amount of plastic is it's been created, because some of our things are plastic free. And so obviously, for those things, we're not needing to offset any plastic, like, namely, our toilet paper and things like that. But for other things that do have some plastic, it's by weight. So we'll go in and do research and say, Okay, here's how much this bottle weighs. And so we're going to offset that same amount of plastic from the waste cycle. So it's been a little confusing, but just like really worthwhile.

Michelle Cunningham:

That's so cool. I didn't know this was a thing. And yeah, when you mentioned the people who are working the waste workers, are those people dealing with our waste? Like all the stuff that we send from the US over to Southeast Asia, or wherever it is.

Rachel Kois:

Yep. So they are specifically I don't know if off the top of my head, but we have a we get to choose every year. And you I usually just go with their recommendation, because I trust that they have, you know, the best suggestion for me. But they are like using money from what we are doing to offset not only to remove that waste from oceans and other places, but to invest in better infrastructure for waste reduction in the places exactly like you said that we in other places in the world are often sending our trash sending our recycling, where a lot of that is happening, which are often lower income communities, sometimes they're doing these jobs, because it's the only ones that can get like there's just a lot of power dynamics that I had never thought of. When it comes to waste. I definitely I actually just set up an interview with Vanessa, who's the founder. And we'll be diving a lot deeper into that on the podcast, because I'm still learning a lot about it. But they pitched me, I get pitched for a lot, a lot, a lot of environmental stuff, different offset programs and things like that, which is great. And I love that they exist. But I almost always turn them down because we're already doing quite a bit of that with Climate Neutral. And this one I like I couldn't turn my back on. I was just so impressed with what they were doing. I'm like we have to integrate this. I don't care what what we have to do to make it work.

Michelle Cunningham:

Say it again. What is it called? Is it plastic neutral, certified?

Rachel Kois:

Plastic neutral certified, you can find it on our website, but plastic neutral, certified through repurpose global and they do a bunch of other things other than just having this plastic neutral certification. Like they're a very cool organization. She was recently like, had a TED talk. And they won some like youth in Business Award, the CEO seriously a cool organization. That's awesome. And they're going to be on your podcast. I think they should be two episodes from now. So hopefully sometime next month.

Michelle Cunningham:

What's the name of your podcast for our listeners who I'm sure should also be interested in a podcast like yours.

Rachel Kois:

It's just the Simple Switch podcast. So yeah, you can find it on our website or anywhere that podcasts are played. I think, you know, Spotify, Stitcher, iTunes, all those.

Michelle Cunningham:

Awesome. So I did want to ask you a bit about becoming carbon neutral, certified. What made you decide to do that I know it costs you more like as a business, like you have to pay more to do that. Like, why was it so important?

Rachel Kois:

Yeah, I am constantly battling. Like we were saying with minimalism, you know, I'm not trying to get, I'm not trying to start a new company that's gonna make people buy more things that they don't need, right. But the other side of that is that people are buying, the best thing people could be buying is like local from a farmers market, or like someone made out of their backyard, right, sustainability wise. But I've actually seen a fair amount of research. Also the online shopping, if it's done slowly, like if you give it the time to be shipped to you at like a normal rate, we can actually be less less of a carbon emission than if you bought it from like a big box store or somewhere nearby you like at your local grocery store or local things, because of all sorts of factors. But if you are buying quickly, this is also a reason that we don't offer like two day shipping options or like having things be like, you know, overnighted to people. It doesn't give trucks, the time or space to be like filled up all the way. So then the shipments are being made with like just a few products instead of having this like really efficient logistics thing where that's like one truck along the route is delivering all these things. So that's not really what you asked, but for me, I'm always balancing how much carbon emissions am I creating with this company and making sure that that is actually not creating more of an negative impact than what we're able to create positive impact around. So I was looking into doing carbon offsets Because in the same way that I alluded to this before, but one thing plastic neutral says, which I love is that, ideally, we don't have plastic anymore, right, we're able to eliminate that from like, a lot, or at least single use unnecessary plastics, that we could get rid of a lot of those, but they have the same attitude, that what I was saying about purchasing where it's like, you know, ideally, a lot of people are buying a lot less. But in the meantime, we really do need to bridge that gap into having, you know, more sustainable products, as people are kind of making those better options. And so with carbon offsets, I feel really similarly, where ideally, we're just emitting less carbon, right. And there are solutions coming around every day. For that I try it on my best days, I'm very hopeful that we're going to see a lot a lot of change in that area. And even like, in the airline industry, my boyfriend's very interested in airplanes. And so he's always talking to me about the way that electric planes are coming around, and like things that are gonna make some really huge impact on, you know, what emissions are happening around the world. But in the meantime, if we're able to be investing in solutions that are helping to drive down carbon, or, you know, for those who haven't, I'm guessing if people are listening to your podcast, they probably have heard of carbon emissions before but essentially, or sorry, carbon offsets. Essentially, the idea, right, is that we are giving monetary donation essentially, to offset the amount of negative and carbon that we are creating. And so that could look like investment in solar or wind energy, it could look like investment in regenerative agriculture practices, Climate Neutral has this whole huge list that they donate to which I love. Similar with them, we can kind of choose but I usually just give to the pool because I trust them to be investing in the best solutions that have the most impact. So for me, it felt like kind of a no brainer that we need to if I'm going to be starting a company like I, I studied business, and I didn't even want to study business because I was like business, there's so much evil in the world, right? But then I thought, okay, it can actually be doing a lot of good in the world. So for me, all of these certifications that we have, you know, before plastic control of Climate Neutral, are all just this way to be bringing down our negative impact as much as humanly possible, while also creating this positive impact that we're able to do with our products. So hopefully, the other side of that is that people know that they can trust us even more, because of those things, right? They're coming to our site looking for a way to not make so much bad in the world with the way that they're shopping. And hopefully those things can help them be rest assured that they're doing that.

Michelle Cunningham:

Yeah, absolutely. And I totally agree that like, we need to reduce carbon emissions as much as possible. But it's going to be some time until we can really get to that point, like we should absolutely go for the offset, like do something, you know.

Rachel Kois:

Totally for sure. I think people tend to get really, we people tend to get really discouraged. And I totally get that on my on my best days. I'm hopeful on my worst days, I'm discouraged. And I think just any of these kind of in between solutions, I think it'd be cool if we had carbon offsets forever. But hopefully, eventually, more and more brands figure come carbon positive, right, where they are like, not creating these emissions. And they're investing in like the future of sustainability. So I would love to see so many of our like worst polluting industries, that's the other thing that I try to do education about is that I think I want people to come to our site with hope that they can really make a difference, because truly they are I get thank you notes daily, from companies who are just telling us, you know, because your customer did this, we were able to handle COVID this way, because your customer did this, like we were able to invest in the solution, or just, you know, supporting small businesses, small, impactful businesses is not nothing, right, people coming and shopping on our site or taking other personal actions for sustainability, you know, being more zero waste. I did like a year where I was trying to be zero waste, it was really a cool learning experience. But I think it's really easy to get discouraged. But the other thing is making sure that we are also encouraging people to reach out to their policymakers to write feedback to big business to be changing those things. Because what we don't want to do is create this complex for the individual consumers that it's all on them. And if they don't change their behavior, like the world is gonna end. And it's all their responsibility, because it really is like, I mean, we've seen so many studies that there's kind of a, you know, big 10 or Big Five polluters, that we really need to be holding accountable. Business and, and publicly.

Michelle Cunningham:

Yeah, yeah, definitely. And it does seem that like, we as individuals have some power to do some things. And those things might be us like making better decisions in our own lives. They could be reaching out to the powers that be that control, like your ability to do things at a much more massive scale, but I think it can be very discouraging. I think I, I felt that way a lot of the time, before starting to think about doing the Toasted Earth podcast. Yeah. And then as I started looking into, okay, well, what's out there, what are people doing to help, it was really inspiring. And like in talking to all of you it is very inspiring to see that, you know, there's people all over the place that are devoting their time to solving these problems. And I'm hopeful that we will, we will get there. And it'll take a little time to actually solve the problem, but we are making steps every day.

Rachel Kois:

Absolutely, for sure. And just even looking at, we're turning three years old this month, even looking at the way consumers respond to my message. Like when I tell them what we do, it's just they're such a greater understanding of what ethical and impactful shopping even is, you know, which I think shows that the education is moving a lot more in that direction, and people are going to be a lot more empowered.

Michelle Cunningham:

Just over the three years? The beginning to now?

Rachel Kois:

Yep. And I hear people who've been in the business longer than me, you know, I think of like, this woman who was I live in Denver, and this woman who is on like City Council for Boulder, and she's working towards getting like everyone in Boulder not to use toxic pesticides anymore. That's like, it's like her soul project. And she's so in it, but she has seen all these like, trends, and she's working really hard. And she is, I wouldn't even say like an optimist. She's really working hard. And she's holding people accountable. And she's very serious about it. But she, you know, as I think she's probably like a 60 year old woman has really seen all these trends shift and like the public view of sustainability and of impact really shifted and just seeing so much more like widespread adoption of it, which is what we need, right? That's like, what, because there's we I always say there's a spectrum, right? There's the people like me, who are going to do those hours of research to figure out what they want to buy, right? Who are going to try and figure it out. But that's a really, really small sliver of the pie. And everyone else needs to have these, like more publicly adopted solutions, and once that feel comfortable to them, and once that they can kind of not have to be this like, Trailblazer early adopter to go shopping, right? It shouldn't have to be so much work. And so that's kind of what you know, me and others like me, I think I see a lot of other you mentioned your backgrounds in tech, I see a lot of other tech founders figuring out, you know, what can I do to remove the roadblocks to make this just an easier, easier solution for everyone? Because otherwise, I'm gonna use it. Like, if we were looking at any, like for profit tech company, they are making it how easy can we make this for user experience? And so we should also be doing that with any kind of social or environmental impact project, I think.

Michelle Cunningham:

Oh, 100%. Yeah, I think that's where, like, people starting businesses can have a big impact is just get rid of all the things that are in someone's way from making the non sustainable choice. Yeah, and then they will make the sustainable choice. If there's not a hurdle, causing them not to, like people want, people don't want to make the bad choice.

Rachel Kois:

When you know, you ike, you know, you use someth ng made out of recycled mater als, and you planted a tree like that. That's it, that's hap y. It's like, you know, there's ike, not a reason to avoid it. Y u're like, Oh, awesome. I did my part. But I didn't have to think about it so much that it's like exhausting me.

Michelle Cunningham:

Yeah. We l, for Simple Switch. Whe e do you see the company goi g from here? What what are li e the next steps for you guys?

Rachel Kois:

That's a good question. I feel like we're at this really cool transitional stage, where we're, I think, gonna grow really fast over the next six or so months. I hope I'm not wrong about that. But we're starting to I'm starting to talk to impact investors in my area, and people who are really trying to scale this kind of impact. So I'm pretty new to that I was pretty hesitant to take on investment for the first few years because I don't, I don't want people to just have a say in this kind of change because of the capital and the money that they have. And so I've just been bootstrapping this company so far. And and building it really scrappy. And I always, you know, complain to friends that Jeff Bezos can spend millions on an ad campaign and not blink an eye but I probably need to like really figure out if I can spend $100, things like that. Yeah. So as we start to see more sales, and people hear about us more, and we get a bigger audience, and then also as people start to invest in us financially, I think my, you know, big, hairy audacious goal is something that a lot of people in startups say I would just love to see us get so big that we have companies coming to us for, you know, large companies coming to us for how can I really truly bake the sustainable and sustainability and impact ideals into my business, right, like, how can they change and then small businesses who have the amazing values and the amazing practices be reaching out to us for help to get out a wider audience. So really being able to, you know, continue to be the the sales channel that we are and make it really easy for people to shop that way but also increase our education arm and the amount of influence that we're able to have over business owners and consumers alike.

Michelle Cunningham:

What do you think are the biggest challenges in getting to that point?

Rachel Kois:

It's like really, really getting the word out. because like you said, people a lot of times want to make the right decision. But being a small, you know, bootstrapped company, I'm a solopreneur. There's no one else really like doing this with me other than some incredible interns and volunteers. It, it's expensive and time consuming to reach everyone that I want to be reaching. Right. Like we we have this huge target market of people, like, you know, a percent of millennials said that they expect companies to help them make the right sustainable and impact choice like they want. Everybody wants that. We're seeing that in every piece of research. But then to compete, especially in digital marketing, with companies like Amazon, or I mean, even much smaller companies that are kind of competing for that ad space, competing for that just time and attention, and I get it as a consumer, I get really distracted, right? I'm not always like, there are plenty of companies that I think are amazing that I'm not always having at the front of my mind. But that is the biggest challenge is how do we stay up front of mine for come for customers who really do care about making this kind of impact, while still keeping that simplicity, right, where they're still not having to do like all this work. Like, we don't want everyone to feel like they have to like go to battle for us. But we do want, you know, loyal customers, like you said, we're making multiple purchases, and then telling their friends every time I hear, you know, people will send me emails and say, Hey, I bought from your site, because blah, blah, told me about it. And I'm like, I love them. Like there's there's no better gift to a small business owner than than just your, your influence and your word of mouth. So I think traffic is just our biggest challenge as a small business as it is for many businesses. And then along with that, just the the creation of the content. So just making sure that we're really staying up to date with the best information because we do want to be you know, the best source, I think we do a good job at that. But you know, it's not like a flawless user experience. Our blogs are, you know, a little choppy, and things like that it's got a lot of good information in there. But I would love to see us be a little bit more of a landing zone for people who are trying to learn more and jump more into their journey with ethical and sustainable choppy.

Michelle Cunningham:

Was there anything that our listeners can do to help along either those lines,

Rachel Kois:

Absolutely, just sharing it with your friends. So definitely, like sharing on social media is great. But that's pretty easy to ignore. So if you like are really loving what you're hearing and this, like text your mom, be like, Mom, I found like, if your mom loves coffee, go on our site, find a link to a coffee that you know, your mom will love and send it to your mom and be like, I found this website, and then you you would love it. And also 100% of the profits from this coffee go towards orphan care, which I'll bet your mom also thinks it's cool, right? Or like, if you're, you know, boyfriend, like needs a new belt, like his pants are just falling down. Just be like, Hey, I found this company. And like, here's about that they sell and it's like empowering, like small business owners in Haiti, right? Or, you know, you're out of toilet paper, go buy the toilet paper, and then maybe make a little if you have a lot of friends over make like a little sign next year for the paper that's like, here's where I got it. You could get sustainable toilet paper to you know, just like any of those. But that's a big ask, right? But if you love what you're thinking like it really will make a big difference. So if you love what you're hearing, do those kinds of things that reaching people on a personal level is something that I can only do with my people, right? So I have a limited amount of personal connections that I can make. And I'm always trying to grow that but any like person, I can put out a Facebook ad I can probably reach your mom with the right targeting. But I can never text her because I know she loves coffee, because I'm not a stalker. Right. So those are the best things that you guys could do.

Michelle Cunningham:

Awesome. Well, before we sign off, we'd like to end every episode with a toast to the earth. What do you hope for our planet's future? Yeah, I love it.

Rachel Kois:

I really love Patagonia. So I'm gonna use a term that he uses. Or she or they I think he uses all those pronouns to Mother Nature. May you get the peace and quiet you deserve for supporting us all these years, by us divesting from the people who would seek to hurt you and the people you support and instead of investing in all the people that will love cherish and regenerate you and the people that you choose to support.

Michelle Cunningham:

That's awes me.

Rachel Kois:

And I'm like looking out at my tree and I like just teared up a little bit saying that because I just like I want us to hit that so bad.

Michelle Cunningham:

Thanks for listening to the show today. If you love this show, please leav us a review wherever you liste to podcasts. You can learn m re about Simple Switch by visit ng simpleswitch.org thats s- -m-p-l-e-s-w-i-t-c-h dot org or visit our show notes at toast dearth.com for more links a d details about this episode. Use the code TOASTEDEARTH whe shopping on Simple Switch to eceive 20% off your first o der and Rachel has requested t at if you have any feedback ab ut your experience to send it er way at <EMAIL>. If you e currently working on an id a, company, non-profit or move ent to benefit the environment, end us an email at hello@toaste earth.com, we would love to h ar from you. Raise a glass to the earth everyone, its the nly one weve