“I sometimes think in life you’ve got to dream big by setting yourself seemingly impossible challenges. You then have to catch up with them. You can make what people believe is impossible possible if you set big enough targets. – Richard Branson
The company Aerial is today has evolved from a humble dream I had when I was 12. I was fortunate to have several unique experiences that opened my eyes to how big the world was and give me a taste of what adventure meant. At a younger age, I never felt I was right for business. I always felt I might be doing something wrong because I didn’t enjoy wearing stuffy clothes and business suits. Wasn’t that what business was all about? Maybe I wasn’t meant for business. “Business just isn’t me,” I thought to myself over and over again. I enjoy being outside, surrounded by the toughness of job sites, climbing mountains and surviving in the wilderness. The “real Britnie” is someone who lives to rescue those in need. The original plan for my life was to engage in hardcore undercover missions saving women and children from sex slavery. Instead I ended up in an office… WHY? I finally saw the power and connection between capitalism and helping people.
The experiences primed me for the revelation I would have in January 2013 when I connected the dots between the power of development and how it can positively affect the economy. I suddenly realized my company in Nashville, Tennessee had a huge opportunity to better our communities, and therefore better a piece of the world, through revitalization of the urban core, creation of jobs and installation of neighborhood safety.
At Aerial, we believe that through the principles of conscious economics, business can be the vehicle in which a group of people can have a transformative effect on the world. Everyone has a voice. Everyone can use their various platforms to affect positive social change. Capitalism is a tremendously powerful tool for widespread common good, if used in the appropriate way.
A common misconception is that companies have to choose between doing good things for the world and being profitable. This is simply not the case. Three of my favorite examples are TOMS, Whole Foods and Patagonia. TOMS has found incredible success in multiple spheres by employing its “buy one, give one” model which has become wildly popular all over the globe as companies realize their power to have positive influence while still selling products for huge profit. Whole Foods has profited in unprecedented ways by offering healthy food options in a variety of markets while also initiating social good programs fueled by the company’s success. For example, by addressing local sourcing concerns with its local producer loan program, and its Whole Planet series of initiatives. Patagonia has done an amazing job of putting the environment front and center of its company mission. Patagonia is an industry leader in environmentally friendly practices that serve as examples across the world for how it is possible to run a fiscally successful company while also being a steward to the environment.
At Aerial, we continually study companies like this and have seen the positive results of applying as many of these principles as possible to how we operate our business. We have recognized the impact businesses can have to better the world, and we hope to inspire other companies to recognize the same.
We learn more every day as we feel through the process of improving our values-based business approaches, and we openly invite collaboration with other businesses who aim to do the same thing. Consumers today are more educated, discerning and conscious than ever before. In the very near future, having a social agenda will be a requirement if a company hopes to be successful in the marketplace. We are living in exciting times, and it will only get better in the coming years.