Re-fashioning a culture of ethical consumerism.

The Good Trade: On the Road Less Travelled

The Good Trade: On the Road Less Travelled

{Original Article product of The Good Trade's Kassia Binkowski}

After a successful career of serial entrepreneurship, Jim Van Eerden co-founded Sevenly in 2011 with the mission of leading a generation toward generosity. Inspired by the belief that people matter, he built a brand that leveraged cause art to connect consumers to the social and environmental issues that they cared about. But the company grew quickly and its impact was at stake. We sat down with Jim to hear his story, the career shift he made toward social businesses, and exactly how he is working to stabilize a company from which so many nonprofits stand to gain. This is the story of one entrepreneur’s journey through the rise and fall (and rise again!) of Sevenly.

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TO UNDERSTAND THIS STORY, WE NEED TO UNDERSTAND YOU. YOU’VE WORKED WITH C-LEVEL EXECUTIVES FOR SOME OF THE BIGGEST BRANDS IN THE WORLD, BEEN BUSINESS PARTNERS WITH PROMINENT CELEBRITIES, AND PROVIDED COUNSEL FOR THE WORLD CUP AND THE OLYMPICS. BUT YOUR MORE RECENT PURSUITS, FROM FILM-MAKING TO BOARD CHAIRMANSHIPS, HAVE FOCUSED ON CREATING POSITIVE SOCIAL CHANGE. WHAT HAS MOTIVATED THIS NEW SEASON OF YOUR CAREER?

It’s been quite a ride. Along the way, I’ve come to believe, with vigor, that we’re made for more than self-pursuits. There’s a great story unfolding, far bigger than us. People are recognizing that the way we understand that story should impact the way we make and buy things. That’s resulted in a sea change. I think the rise of purpose-driven businesses is, in some ways, as significant as the technology shifts in the mid 1990’s, when the Internet went public. It’s epic. And I simply wanted to be a part of it.

My business interests began to change as that became clearer to me. I already knew that excellence in business meant going from “Good to Great” in terms of operating performance. What I began to see was that it also means going from “Great to Good,” in terms of the positive and enduring impact we make in the lives of people, and the health of our communities and planet. The best companies are the engines for a lot of good in the world. I wanted to help businesses, consumers and non-profits see that more clearly.

WHAT ROLE DO YOU SEE ENTREPRENEURSHIP AND MARKET-BASED BUSINESS PLAYING IN OUR COLLECTIVE EFFORT TO SOLVE SOME OF THE WORLD’S SEEMINGLY INTRACTABLE INJUSTICES?

Our journeys are all different, of course. “Intrapreneuring” is just as important as “entrepreneuring,” and sometimes more so. But for me, there was a thesis to prove. That’s why launching new ventures seemed the best way to help demonstrate that no matter the sector, businesses could be intentional about creating surprisingly positive and measurable social impact, and that this intentionality could make those businesses stronger. 

It is an amazing moment in economic history. It’s for-profit businesses - and the consumers they depend on - that are shaping how sustainable philanthropy will work in this new century. There will always be some version of the “corporate tithe,” and that’s not a bad thing. But more and more, what will emerge in opposition to the world’s great injustices and to address the world’s greatest needs will be win-win-win alliances between brands and their consumers, and the causes that matter to them both. That’s revolutionary! I’m just grateful to be a small part of it.

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1,000+ Volunteers Outfitted Free for Hurricane Relief

1,000+ Volunteers Outfitted Free for Hurricane Relief

Sevenly, Roma Boots, Others To Outfit Hurricane Volunteers Free

Sevenly, Roma Boots, Others To Outfit Hurricane Volunteers Free

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