Jared Henriques Hey everyone. Welcome to The Possible Now, a podcast interview series with the people and businesses who are working towards a better future for us all. My name is Jared Henriques and I'm your host this season. I'm the founder of Renga, a brand strategy and design studio in Toronto. Our goal at Renga has been to help our clients become brands that matter. In order to do this effectively, we felt it was important to better understand what sustainability looks like in practice across different industries. The Possible Now is a front row seat to a series of conversations with business leaders who are solving real world problems with sustainable practices. We're excited to share our research with you in this way, a better future is possible, and it will take all of us as business leaders, consumers, and citizens to start working towards it. Now, my guest today is Renga's very own Matthew Im. Matt is the VP of Growth and Brand Director here at Renga, but he's also the producer for The Possible Now podcast. In today's episode, we're going to be talking about why we decided to focus on sustainability, how this affected him personally, and some of the things that we both learned throughout this process. Welcome Matt. Matt Hey Jared. Thanks for having me. Jared Henriques Of course. We definitely wanted to start this conversation off by giving a bit of context as to why we decided at Renga to really focus on sustainability, and what sustainability meant to us before this podcast, and what it means now just as we're about to move into launch. So do you mind maybe speaking about how you thought about sustainability a few months ago before we started this journey? Matt Sure. I think everyone is on their own path with sustainability, whether it's positive or negative, or whether they're even aware of some of the choicesand decisions they make. But for myself, it definitely started more in nutrition and food. Figuring what it was that I was putting into my body, and how that what would affec my mental health, my physical health. I started doing more research and what I think I found is that everything is connected. It's not just about food and nutrition. As we dive deeper into these episodes and learning more about the Sustainable Development Goals, realizing that every decision we make has some sort of impact or implication. Positive or negative. At Renga, it wasn't just myself having these thoughts. I think collectively as a team, even yourself, we were thinking about sustainability and how that played out in our own lives. Naturally that just became more of a topic of discussion in our business, and our business practices, and how we wanted to create impact. Our decision makin with businesses has a cause and effect. So for us, our internal philosophy then became building brands and manner. Now matter is obviously a very subjective term, but for us, it was businesses that had these values and this mindset of creating a circular economy. Business that cared about the planet, people and profits. Naturally just led to creating this podcast because we were talking to so many business leaders, CEOs, and founders, we wanted to share that knowledge with people who are curious. Jared Henriques For sure. I think it's been quite fascinating over the last few months as we've been recording and editing these episodes. Even just observing, I know the change that this has had on our organization. As we've decided to go internally through the B Corporation process, and really familiarizing ourselves with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and how we might apply those to different things, I think it's really compelling. When you talk about sustainability and how for you, it really manifested in food. I think a lot of people, myself included, growing up in elementary school and going through that process, we hear sustainability and we immediately think of the environment. We think about planting trees, and the pollution, and some of those different areas. What was one of the biggest changes in your perspective throughout this process of sustainability? What was that big aha moment, or at least an interesting realization that you might've had throughout this process? Matt I think you touched on it. It was the environment. Growing up, I was the same. Recycling, climate change, global warming, that is what I associated with the word sustainability. I think the biggest thing that I learned is that sustainability isn't just the environment. It's people, communities, how money is spent, business practices, inclusion, accessibility. There are so many levels to sustainability and that was the biggest eye opening thing for me. It's a lot bigger of an issue than just climate change. Jared Henriques Yeah for sure. I think that's a shared sentiment within the Renga team. When we look at people, planet, and profit, I think for me, one of the biggest realizations was that profit component. Right especially being in some form of consultation relationship with a lot of our clients, to be able to speak to them that like, Yes, how important it is to move about processes, and supply chains, and everything ethically, there is still a level of, you need to ensure that your business can actually sustain and grow itself to amplify that impact. Sometimes, in an incident like COVID-19 where the whole world has just dramatically changed. I think you're seeing a lot of nonprofits really go outof business, and it breaks my heart because I think the issue is there's a not necessarily a sustainability to the business model on its own without donors. As people get much more tight fisted, they're starting to see their impact to be entirely diminished. I think what was really eye opening to me was for that sustainability to be just ingrained into the core of a brand's culture, that impact can be just accelerated and amplified globally as we try and build out a real healthy business. Matt Yeah. I think one of the harder things to understand, but also very simple is that sustainability is collaboration, not competition. In the business world, they very much preach competition. Competition breeds better economic growth. With sustainability, you realize you have some sort of power. The longterm end goal is a sustainable world involves partnership. If you are a for profit business, partnering with a nonprofit, you both use your skillsets to achieve some sort of goal. And money inherently is not evil. It's how you use those funds to give back to communities, to the people, to the planet. It's what you're doing with that money what that says about you. One of the biggest realizations for me was looking at price and understanding that if something is too good to be true, someone somewhere, or something is being exploited. Whether it's the planet for its resources, or people for their services overseas in third world countries, we just need to do better collectively at understanding that these things are happening. Becoming more transparent as consumers and citizens, we have a part to play as well, the onus isn't just solely on businesses. Jared Henriques For sure. I think to that point, throughout this process you've also been in the process of launching a side project, which is a clothing company. I'd love to know how your perspective has changed within that business, as you're starting to think through supply chain, and that whole pricing model structure ,and how that all works. How has this podcast and these conversations really impacted that thought process? Matt Yeah. I would say that it mostly impacted it on a profit sense, which is what we actually do with the money that we do make. In terms of building the brand and how we wanted to create a supply chain and manufacturing, we always wanted to be local. We always wanted to support local businesses and the local economy. Making sure we're working with people that are paying their employees a livable wage. What I failed to consider in the beginning was, once you start making money, what do you do with that money? That kind of shifted our mentality into actually partnering with local charities or organizations that are looking to solve one of many of these Sustainable Development Goals. We have the power to do it, and we also care about these things. That's something that we've been trying to implement. Jared Henriques Very cool. So the last question I had for you today, we'll just keep this first episode nice and short, is the name of The Possible Now. What does that mean to you? Do you mind just speaking to that a little bit? Matt Yeah. It's funny because what I hope to happen is impossible. Reaching full sustainability as a race and as a planet is pretty much impossible. The act of doing, being more self aware, and learning and educating, as we've seen this entire year, change is eminent. And so The Possible Now name is just a reflection of the attitude that, Hey, we can actually make a difference and it starts right now. That could be using a reusable water bottle, a reusable bag, trying to waste less, buy less plastic. We're not asking people to be perfect beings. It's just try to make today a little better than yesterday. Just continuing moving forward. That's what The Possible Now means to me at least. Jared Henriques Yeah, that's great. I think it reminds me of a quote. "but the most dangerous information is the information that we choose, which not to know." Right. I think what you just mentioned in terms of reusing, reusable bags and reasonable bottles, and to actually ask questions and maybe look into the supply chain of your favorite brands, we all know what might be under there, but we choose not to know it. And I think The Possible Now is about saying, right now I'm going to choose to do what I can, and that there is an element to this future that is possible too. Work towards now. And I think that's great. From my perspective, we're excited to share all of these conversations with everybody who's deciding to listen. I know that it's dramatically changed us as an organization at Renga, and us as individuals. Really causing us to think a lot more about how we conduct our business, our day to day lives, and what it might mean to be a healthy business. I thank you for your production work and all the prep that you've done. Is there anything else that you wanted to kind of leave people with before we dive into those interviews? Matt I would say to be excited to learn something new. Be excited to be reminded of something you already know. Be excited to know that you have the power to make change, whether it's small or big. It's not such a daunting ride. Sustainability, when given a chance and understood, almost brings a sense of happiness to what you do. And so I would say listen with an open mind. Jared Henriques That's great. No, I really appreciate that. We're excited to share with you guys. Here's an invitation. We're going to dive into a bunch of different interviews that are very wide ranging in terms of topics, experience, and the personnel on it. I know as we've done these interviews, not one of them is like the other. They're all full of little nuggets. Please feel free to reach out to us and engage in a conversation as you're starting to learn these things. We would love to hear from you.Thank you, Matt. Matt Thanks Jared. Jared Henriques Bye Our next episode, I'm going to be chatting with Salima Visram, the founder and CEO of Samara. Samara is a luxury fashion brand that specializes in minimal and simple products. While most of their focus has been on bags, they're looking to expand their product offering into clothing and accessories very soon. Their goal is to create better fashion, implement more efficient supply chains, and develop more sustainable materials. They are an ecofriendly business that is always looking for more ways to improve.