Guest AMA with Kindhumans

by May 20, 2020AMA, Community

Welcome to the next installment in our series of BAT Community-run AMAs.

The ongoing AMA series on Reddit features various guests from the Brave and BAT teams, and now, guests from projects and causes that Brave collaborates with. 

The most recent AMA took place on May 13th, and featured guests Justin “Hoost” Wilkenfeld (CEO & Co-founder), Suzi Wilkenfeld (President & Co-founder), and Dan I. Sack (Director of Business Operations) from Kindhumans, a cause on a mission to make kindness a viral phenomenon, and to unite and grow the community of kind humans around the world. Justin, Suzi, and Dan fielded both pre-submitted and live questions from Redditors about the work Kindhumans is doing to help people and the environment. This includes their “Kindness. Pass it on” sticker campaign (where every sticker pack purchase funds a tangible act of kindness, such as planting trees or providing safe drinking water), the Kindhumans Shop (which encourages consumers to “Purchase with Purpose” and features curated sustainability-focused products), and their work with Grassroots Aid Partnership (GAP), which sends much needed supplies to communities most impacted by COVID-19.

Highlights can be found below, with a link to the full AMA at the bottom of this post.

Akashic101: What was your inspiration for starting the Kindhumans project? Was there a specific person or moment which inspired you? What was the kindest thing someone ever did for you?

Justin: Kindest thing someone ever did for me? Adopt me as a little baby and give me a good shot at a good life. 🙂

The inspiration for the Kindhumans project was a combination of factors with the main inspirations coming from Suzi doing a ton of product research for our family and my consulting a few non-profit causes after spending a decade at GoPro and growing that company into a global brand.

During my time at GoPro, I was part of a team that created the GoPro for a Cause program designed to leverage the media, marketing, and social media power of GoPro to elevate awareness for various non-profit organizations with a goal of inspiring donations.

Using that blueprint post-GoPro, I was providing some strategic marketing consulting and advisory services to a few organizations with shared goals of furthering positive social and environmental impacts. This inspired us to form Kindhumans, to help provide a platform for us to make the biggest positive impact while supporting and amplifying all the great work being done out there by great people with the better good in mind. The Kindhumans mission is to promote and elevate kindness, conscious consumption, and giving back by building a media company and marketplace focused on sustainable, eco-friendly, and purpose-driven products.

If we can succeed in building this into a global brand and thriving business, we hope to really help facilitate positive changes with how humans interact with each other and nature.

Midwest_Parrothead: What led you to Brave as an advertising opportunity?

Suzi: We were introduced to Brave via our friend Joel Harper, a talented author, musician and Environmental Activist. We were immediately impressed with Brave’s mission and began working together in 2019 for Giving Tuesday.

dk_weekinmemes: On your website, I found that the materials are reusable and recyclable, not reused and recycled. Creating new products is still a cost to nature. So, how do you work to eliminate waste in your products rather than after they're used?

Suzi: Love this topic and feel we need more people like yourself asking these questions!

Let me start by prefacing that sustainability is an ever-evolving conversation. Where we can choose reused and recycled we will, a couple examples of this are our Rais Case x Kindhumans Refusion Zipper Pouch and our Genusee eyewear.

Rais Case often uses unavoidable single use plastics (collected from businesses in our community, Kindhumans included), to create plastic fabric, which helps keep these items out of our natural environment.

Genusee, is a company out of Flint, Michigan that uses single use plastic bottles to create beautiful sunglasses and eyeglasses, creating a closed looped system.

We evaluate brands for the greatest environmental impact and choose to partner with those that are like minded, which means, they are ethically sourcing their ingredients, they are waste free or strive to be waste free, using organic and regenerative practices, off-setting carbon emissions and potentially using a closed loop system.

The reason that we partner with the brands we do is that they are working tirelessly to improve their environmental impact. Also conscious consumption starts with the consumer, which is why a big part of what we do is education. I believe as the demand for recycled inputs goes up, so will products containing them!

minajnebmai: What is your ultimate/most ambitious goal for Kind Humans?

Justin: Disruptive change for the better good through a global community of kind human beings that simply want to find the best way forward for humanity to live our best lives. We hope to partner with great brands, non-profits, and anyone that supports kindness over greed. By collaborating and creating disruptive platforms for people to migrate to, we hope to be part of the design of a new ecosystem of tools we can all use to navigate commerce, cause and community without feeling like we are selling our souls (or data) to the highest bidder.

PerennialSeller: I saw the "Kindness. Pass it on." sticker packs on your website... Can you tell us more about their purpose and how they work? What does it mean to be a "kindhuman"?

Justin: We want to help make kindness as cool as possible so that it hopefully goes viral! The idea was sparked to get messages of kindness out there and to pass it on. The sticker campaign is designed to be a fun way to show gratitude for kind humans in your life by sending them stickers and a customizable message. Every purchase makes an impact, so you get to choose a cause that a portion of the proceeds goes to. Currently, you can plant trees, provide clean drinking water, support COVID-19 relief or provide outdoor education for kids.

In terms of being a kind human, I want to preface that our belief is that, at best, humans are perfectly imperfect. Being kind can take on so many forms it is hard to articulate but our goal is to celebrate the good role models in society and elevate that aspect of their lives in hopes that it rubs off on people and inspires them to do good in their own way. This can happen with the way we treat ourselves, others or our environment. This can happen with the choices we make when we shop or how we participate in our community, from supporting local businesses to getting involved in policy and legislation.

If you believe the old adage, you are what you eat, then we should all ask ourselves a lot more questions and demand more transparency. We should be more mindful of what we put in and on our bodies and how that impacts others or the planet.

You can ask yourself, am I being kind to myself, kind to others, or kind to the planet with this choice?

It might help us make different choices as we become more aware of the impact our consumption choices might have.

Suzi: When we started the company, we knew we wanted to introduce the brand in a fun, inclusive, community oriented way.

We launched our "Kindness. Pass it on." sticker packs in June of 2019 to help spread more kindness and promote the giveback mentality. The purpose of the sticker pack is twofold:

It allows the consumer to send a message of kindness to someone they think is doing good in the world.

It allows you to initiate a donation to a charity of their choice, supporting Kids, The Planet, Humanitarian Aid and now recently, we've added Rapid Response, to help aid in Coronavirus Relief.

We think Kindhumans are all around us! And that is proven by the success of this campaign.

To date we've been able to plant 5,000 trees, provide 1,067 gallons of clean drinking water to families in Flint, Michigan and help 2,000 kids learn about outdoor ethics!

minajnebmai: Suzi, as you have a background in advertisements, how do you feel about the Brave archetype? From an advertiser’s POV, is Brave a better option vs. a web page banner ad or something comparable?

Suzi: This is such a great question!

In today's world, advertising space is extremely crowded. So many similar brands are vying for the same space and oftentimes the biggest company is the one that has the most money to spend, hence the loudest, for better or worse.

What I love about Brave is that they've been able to turn down some of that noise. Brave users have to agree to see an ad, which means they are choosing to engage. It's hard to quantify metrics, but what I've learned in my career, is that if you can create a meaningful link between your product and the consumer, you will be able to build brand loyalty and hopefully make a positive impact on someone's life. Our goal is to focus on ways to help make it easier to do good for people and the planet and we are hopeful that this resonates with the Brave community and beyond!

PerennialSeller: Hi Kindhumans! What, if anything, is Kindhumans doing to assist with COVID-19 relief?

Suzi: Hi! We've partnered with Grassroots Aid Partnership (GAP), which is serving hot, nutritious meals and sending fortifying supplies into the heart of communities impacted by COVID-19.

Further, the advent of coronavirus and our partnership with GAP made us realize that we needed a rapid response category of charitable giving (in addition to kids, the planet, and humanitarian aid), which is aimed at moving funds to charities on the front lines of natural disasters or rapidly-developing situations.

In this case, of course, the category overlaps with humanitarian aid, but our current aid partner, 501CTHREE, is still providing clean drinking water to residents of Flint, MI, and of course supporting that work is still very important.

Here's our page with more details on our partnership with GAP: https://kindhumans.com/kindhumans-blog/cause-partner-grassroots-aid-partnership/

veilside000: How does your team see the rise of token-based crypto systems improving the landscape for charities and foundations such as yours? Thanks for your time and thanks, CryptoJennie, for setting this up!

Dan: One way where they are already improving the landscape for organizations like us and for charities is that they enable acceptance of international payments/donations very easily, even for small amounts (which would be very difficult with the regular financial system, given the high fees). Another way is the fact that, for tokens on public blockchains, it improves transparency and accountability as donations are recorded and can be scrutinized.

Mr-Goat: Often being "kind" with a product is hard. Even when you try the best almost always there's still some negatives, e.g. a product itself can be good, but maybe it's manufactured in a third world country by underpaid and abused people. Or if the manufacturing is good, now you are dealing with your products coming from very far away which increases carbon-footprint. And sometimes it's just questionable what's better, is it better to have a reusable metal straw or a one time use plastic one? The metal one has a huge carbon footprint and requires silly amounts of use to make it better than the plastic one. But it can be easily recycled.

So my question is, in the chain from gathering materials to shipping to the client, what qualities do you identify as core for your products and never compromise and what are you ok with compromising. Any specific examples of how you chose a manufacturer and what went into making a decision, or how you had to make these decisions on a product are very welcome?

Suzi: This question is something we wanted to address with our Kindhumans Shop. There are so many brands out there touting buzz words, like natural and sustainable, but then don't share transparency within their sourcing, ingredients, brand ethics and manufacturing process.

To be frank, we run from those brands.

I personally vet all of our products, with our team and advisors, to ensure that each brand/product is solving for something. During the vetting process, I take many factors in consideration, like ingredients, sourcing, manufacturing and environmental impact. It can sometimes be a balancing act. Take for example our MiiR water bottles, they are designed in Seattle, but made in China. I try to source most products from the US, to avoid a larger carbon footprint, but as of 2018, there are no stainless steel water bottles made in the US. Because we aligned with MiiR's initiatives and givebacks, we knew they were the right partner for Kindhumans.

Our goal with the Kindhumans Shop is to do this leg work for you on this, because it can be hard to navigate information. More about our approval process can be found on our Kindhumans Credo.

To help offset any unavoidable inputs, like the MiiR example above, we recently became a Climate Neutral Certified Company. We’re working with Climate Neutral, an independent non-profit organization, to measure, reduce, and offset our carbon emissions. The three-step process will give us net-zero carbon emissions, meaning we’ll reduce the amount of carbon we’re responsible for emitting, then zero out the rest by purchasing carbon offsets.

CryptoJennie: What are some easy actions people can take to be kinder to the planet, or tips to promote more conscious consumption? I believe that most of us have a desire to do/be better, but that we aren't always sure where to start, or we doubt that our individual efforts will ultimately have much of an impact.

Dan: This is such a great question, because I think it gets at the heart of Kindhumans. The hope with Kindhumans is that by focusing on and highlighting the brands and efforts that people are making towards doing things a better way, it will provide inspiration for all of us about ways, big or small, that we can improve ourselves, our communities, and our planet.

Speaking from my experience, working at Kindhumans has forced me (in a good way) to evaluate the decisions that I make around personal consumption and behavior and really be conscious about what sort of impact that I'm having on the world around me. Ultimately, that may be small or it may be larger, but I (we) believe that the way forward for a better future for all of us involves a lot of small changes at the grassroots level rather than big sweeping changes all at once.

Please don't doubt that your individual efforts will make a difference—they all do!

Read the full AMA here

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