Author Archives: Saul Brown

riding-my-bike-to-work.jpg

Epiphany on my morning commute

11 May

I’ll admit, I’ve been a fair weather rider. After hurting my back a few years ago it’s taken me a while to get back on my bike. I received an amazing birthday gift recently, a new commuter bike and I’ve been getting into the groove of riding into work. This was my first week back and today’s ride blew my mind.

It wasn’t the rush or exhilaration of riding that did it. It was who I met, saw and talked with along the way.

I ride from Kitsilano over the Burrard Bridge and along Pacific, then drop into Chinatown and over into Strathcona where our office is located in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. If you didn’t hear about it this week, our neighbours at SOLEfood Urban Farm have been building a 2 acre organic farm on the former Expo lands by BC Place on the north side of False Creek. As I was riding by I saw Seann Dory, SOLEfood’s Executive Director and stopped to have a quick chat (and give him a high-5!).

(Image from Vancouver Is Awesome)

Seann laid out their plan for growth. They’re up to 30 employees who they’ve trained and are working on their organic urban farms, all members of Vancouver’s downtown eastside community. This site is big, 4 times as large as their initial site beside the Astoria Hotel on East Hastings at Hawks. As we were talking saw SHIFT Urban Delivery ride by on one of their hybrid cargo tricycles and it hit me. It was just a few years ago when most of what you heard regarding sustainability and greenest city initiatives was just that. Talk. After years of hard work, dedication and community building these social entrepreneurs are doing it. We’re making some really cool things happen in Vancouver and it’s not just about talking the talk. Its good people, doing good work, making good things happen. It feels good to be a part of that.

thumb_saul_good-vancity.jpg

The Vancity Movement: Local Banking as an Ecosystem

22 Mar

 

In the Spring of 2011, I was at a LOCO BC party watching game 1 of the Stanley Cup in Vancouver. During the game, I was asked what I was going to do to shift my behaviour to purchasing local. As a locally owned and operated business, I have spent many years building community around local purchasing and featuring local products in our gifts. I have also been working to help establish LOCO BC since 2008. The only missing piece was our banking.

 

It became clear that the Saul Good Gift Co. needed to move to a local Vancouver credit union where our business banking supports our community. Vancity is instrumental in most of the social and environmental initiatives that are interconnected with the Saul Good Gift Co. From the Strathcona Business Improvement Association to the SOLEFood Urban Farm and LOCO BC.

 

Our local economy is an ecosystem. Money is like the sun. Vancity is like water.

 

 

Deserts vs. Rainforests

 

The sun shines all day in the desert. It is powerful and hot from morning to night. There is no soil or vegetation to absorb the sun’s energy. When the sun tucks down behind the mountains, all the energy dissipates leaving you cold and waiting for those first rays of light. There is emptiness and loneliness.

 

Buying from locally owned stores keeps money in your community and creates a diverse economy. The money touches many different hands and creates a diverse web of rich relationships.

 

The desert is like a big box store. All day long consumers buy up goods at the lowest price. The money does not absorb into the local economy. It dissipates and profits shareholders elsewhere.

 

 

 

 

 

Rainforests are rich and diverse

 

A diverse local economy is like a mature ecosystem where the sun shines on the forest canopy of the tall trees. Within this canopy, there are birds and animals eating the fruit and seeds created by the trees. Plants and animals collaborate and compete in order to disperse resources where they are needed. Energy flows through the ecosystem and spawns diverse forms of life. Medicinal plants grow in these systems. The interconnection exudes beauty and richness.

 

Vancity functions like water in an ecosystem. It connects us and supports us.

 

{“video”:”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zVRDTE4lfkc”,”width”:”400″,”height”:”300″}

 

Last week, I was honoured to speak to a group of bankers as part of the GABV conference in Vancouver. I spoke about the interconnection between local businesses and social enterprises in Vancouver’s Downtown East Side. The Saul Good Gift Co. had recently put together some gift baskets for new homeowners at an affordable housing development (60 West Cordova Street). These local Vancouver gifts included organic fruit and veggies from SOLEfood Urban Farm, a social enterprise that trains inner city residents to grow organic food. The urban farm and the affordable housing are both supported by Vancity Credit Union.

 

Community is the story. We are all connected. I am proud of the day that I decided to switch my banking to Vancity and I am proud that the work we do is helping to build the Vancouver we want to live in. Not only for today but also for our grandchildren.

 

Local Food Made Easy: Vista D’oro Gourmet Gifts are Deliciously in Season

15 Mar

Vista D'oro

Eating locally and in season is a Utopian dream. Who doesn’t want the freshest, tastiest and most nutritious food to eat? I love growing food in my yard and shopping at the local farmer’s market down the road. Eating local is a great ethos to move towards…but in reality a hard thing to do 100% of the time. 

 

At the Saul Good Gift Co., we love helping people discover easy ways to enjoy local organic goodness as much as possible. We’ve written about our friends at Vista D’oro Farms before and we think that this local BC farm creates some of the best artisan products on the market. Patrick and Lee grow bountiful delights at their beautiful Langley farmstead. With their crops, they create artisan fruit, nut & wine preserves using ingredients that are in season. They make the locavore lifestyle easy and fun! Patrick came by this past week with a few jars of what’s new at Vista D’oro and I wanted to share a bit from my tasting experience.

 

 

1. Green Heriloom Tomato with Garam Masala

Made using tomatoes from their fall harvest this preserve is actually from their fall line. I enjoyed it on savory crackers along with some mild goat feta. The spices are subtle and complimentary, not overwhelming.

 

2. Spiced Apple & Gewurztraminer

Made using apples from their farm this sweet preserve is full of fruit. It looks like there is a whole apple in there. You can’t make this kind of product in a factory!

 

3. Green Walnut & Grappa

Made using walnuts from their farm and an Italian liquor. This preserve has a unique taste that’s surprisingly good. Usually, when I think of grappa I imagine a swift shot that I put it back as fast as I can. Vista D’oro did a lot better with this. It is a flavour experience that you do not want to rush. This preserve was nice on a cracker and also works well in Parisian Macaron gift baskets made by local confectionist Kitchening With Carly.

 

Vista D’oro preserves have made a comfortable place in our gourmet gift baskets and a warm place in my heart as well. Patrick and Lee are the type of entrepreneurs that we need more of in this world. I admire how they live with the seasons in the farm fresh air. Thanks for sharing the fruit of your labour with us!

 

 

thumb_saul good and the pemberton distillery1.jpg

Local and Organic Alcohol Gift Ideas: The Pemberton Distillery Masters Handcrafted Spirits

01 Feb

Eight years ago, Tyler Schramm walked alongside his brother through the potato fields of the Pemberton Valley. It was a fine summer day and Tyler was imagining his future. He envisioned farmers’ fields, wide valley vistas, gourmet foodies and the picturesque Mt. Currie. Tyler was determined to convert the abundant potato fields into local, organic potato vodka.

After completing a Masters thesis in potato vodka distilling at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, Scotland, Tyler had created the original recipe for Schramm Vodka. Since the inception of this vodka, the Pemberton Distillery has been thriving and expanding…and Tyler is living his dream.

I was happy to have the opportunity to meet Tyler Schramm, explore the Pemberton Distillery and sample local organic spirits. Tyler has created fantastic handcrafted products that I am proud to feature in my local artisan gift boxes.


SAUL GOOD GIFT TIP: When gifting alcohol, remember Saul Good rule #9: “If you’re not 100% sure that your gift recipient is going to enjoy the bottle of wine, beer or spirits, leave it on the shelf.” For further guidance, please check out our previous blog post: “Are wine, spirits or alcohol a good corporate gift?”



Exceptional and Award Winning Spirits

Unique Personality

Pemberton is home to potatoes…A LOT of potatoes. Grocery stories have stacks of the tasty vegetable, whole, round perfect potatoes waiting to make it home and onto the dinner table. Not all potatoes are created equal. Lots of them are odd shapes, small and become waste for farmers who can’t sell them to market. Long gone are the days when these lonely potatoes lay waste in the field, they now find a new home at the distillery where they become the main ingredient in Schramm Organic Vodka.

Why not make good use the quirky shaped organic potatoes as ingredients for unique vodka spirits? It’s a great way to add some unique personality. Using certified organic Pemberton potaoes, a mixture of Yukon Gold, Red, Russet, Purple Russian and German Butter, Tyler uses a special blend to create a signature profile for the Schramm taste.

Unique Taste Experience

In addition to being local, organic and full of heart, Schramm Vodka creates a unique experience for your palette. Most vodka is made from rye and has a fairly predictable flavour. Vodka made from potatoes has a unique taste which Tyler has utilized for Schramm. This blended spirit is gently charcoal filtered to maximize purity while maintaining the smooth and rich earthy character of the Pemberton potato.

Since the Pemberton Distillery is located within the Coast Mountains, they are blessed with pristine glacial streams that provide pure mountain water to blend into Schramm Vodka. When you take a sip, it elicits the visceral experience of standing on a mountain and breathing in crisp freshness. It is no surprise that Tyler Schramm’s mastery is award-winning and critically acclaimed.

Local Living Economy

As the Pemberton Distillery thrives and expands, they continue to deepen their local connection. It has been a great pleasure to have their products featured at LOCO events here in Vancouver BC. From the Raspberry Vodka truffles by the Blackbird Bakery, to the Sweet Vodka Mustard by The Food Lovers, Schramm vodka is pickling Pemberton from the inside out.

New Creations

Aromatic Gin

Since mastering the art of potato vodka, Tyler has expanded to the realm of gin and whiskey. The Pemberton Distillery has incorporated 8 Certified Organic Herbs & Botanicals in Schramm Gin. The Pemberton Distillery is the only distillery in Canada that produces gin from a base spirit that is handcrafted. This means that they control the quality of our Gin throughout its entire production. This handcrafted process is also aligned with the tradition of London Dry Gin. There is no added sugar or colouring to the spirit following distillation.

Waiting for the Whiskey!

In the summer of 2010 the Pemberton Distillery filled their first barrels of single malt whiskey. Yes, it’s true, in 3 years we’ll see the first release of this precious beverage and have a local option for the whiskey fan. I think Tyler et al. are on to something! Please stay tuned for more updates.

good company vs.jpg

Proud to be a Founding Canadian B Corp Company

16 Jan

 

When a company is a B Corp, it provides certainty. It allows us to know the difference between “good” companies and good marketingI was first introduced to B Corp back in 2007. At the time, I was a wide-eyed MBA student…only a month away from completing my MBA program in sustainable business at BGI.



 

One of my classmates, Mary Rick (@maryrick) was organizing a Balle Conference in San Francisco and she encouraged our class to attend. I decided to travel down with classmates and check it out. When I made this decision, I didn’t realize that we would be witnessing a pivotal point in history.

 

At the Balle Conference of 2007, the launch of Benefit Corporations was announced. The vision of this new movement is to “create a new sector of the economy which uses the power of business to solve social and environmental problems. This sector will be comprised of a new type of corporation – the B Corporation – that meets rigorous and independent standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency”.

 

The Saul Good Gift Co. became a founding Canadian B-Corp member. As a member, we are grateful to stand among many great companies throughout North America and watch the B Corp vision become reality.

 

Since the latest B Corp developments in California, the founder of Patagonia spoke to the media about what this development means to him personally, “I hope that five years from now, ten years from now, we’ll look back and say this was the start of the revolution. The existing paradigm isn’t working anymore—this is the future.”

– Yvon Chouinard, Patagonia

 

{“video”:”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gm7wM5A7xcA”,”width”:”400″,”height”:”300″}

 

When the Saul Good Gift Co. joined the B-Corp community, we made a declaration that the directors of our company will always consider the environment and community in addition to profit. We disclose information related to our environmental and community impact, in addition to how we work with employees, customers and our transparency. This helps us to set the bar for what it means to be a progressive business.

 

California is one of six US States shifting corporate law, in order to facilitate social and environmental progress through Benefit Corporations. On Friday, January 13th, 2012, The Stanford Daily explained, “In a ‘middle ground’ between [for-profit and non-profit] extremes, a new type of corporation is emerging, with California the latest but surely not the last state to legally enshrine so-called ‘B Corp’ status.”

 

I look forward to seeing more businesses join this movement! So much has happened since 2007. Hopefully, the progress of B Corp will expand exponentially and we will see some legislation shift in Canada.


thumb_screen shot 2012-01-04 at 10.53.18 am.png

Vancouver Businesses Love LOCO BC

04 Jan

{“video”:”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9VIGMasAKsU&context=C380c035ADOEgsToPDskISpGzgsjME4tXT2OobXsxZ”,”width”:”400″,”height”:”300″}

LOCO BC is a Vancouver organization that connects local businesses and entrepreneurs. LOCO builds community and strengthens our local economy. Last month we hosted the LOCO BC Holiday Mixer with Eclipse Awards. This event showcased some of Saul Good Gift Co.’s best local BC artisan suppliers from our Vancouver gift basket business.

As a member of the LOCO Board, I see how hard Amy Robinson works to keep LOCO thriving.

The Vancouver business community is so grateful for the opportunity to build community and keep our local economy strong. At the LOCO BC Holiday Mixer, Amy was presented with an award from Toby Barazzuol (the president of Eclipse Awards). This beautiful award was created with reclaimed wood and a lot of love.

“Business Champion” by Eclipse Awards

At the LOCO BC Holiday Mixer, the Eclipse/ Saul Good office became flooded with some of Vancouver’s most passionate local entrepreneurs. These hard working folks were served local artisan appetizers from Gone Crackers, Dundarave Olive Company, Parisian macarons from Kitchening With Carly and confections by Cocolico (featuring their sweet & salty pretzel nut mix, drizzled in burnt caramel sauce).

LOCO BC Event inside the Eclipse/ Saul Good office.

Refreshments and libations included wine from Clos du Soleil, locally produced organic vodka and gin made from Pemberton Distillery. In addition to local organic alcohol, there was an exciting selection of SIP sodas.

Event view from the Eclipse/ Saul Good office green roof.

loco-saul_good.png

Guess Who's Coming to Our LOCO Business Mixer Tonight?

06 Dec

Local business is about knowing your neighbours. When I moved to Vancouver in the fall of 2004 I connected with some remarkable people who knew the value of building a vibrant local business community. When LOCO BC emerged a couple years ago, I got involved right away. It has been an honour to invest time and energy into LOCO and watch it grow through collaborative efforts. Through this growth, LOCO has begun to draw a larger crowd of innovative business leaders and entrepreneurs.Tonight is a great opportunity to celebrate and connect with other like-minded folks in our community!

Over the last month we’ve been bringing together Vancouver’s finest locally owned producers, vintners, chefs and artisans to contribute to this years LOCO holiday party. Over the last 5 years, Saul Good has gotten to know the best of the best local suppliers through our gift basket business. We are looking forward to indulging in the delights served by these featured businesses.

  • We’ll Be Serving Handmade Local Treats

There will be phenomenal appetizers from Gone Crackers and Dundarave Olive Company. There will also be a wide selection of treats to keep your palate satiated: heavenly Parisian macarons from Kitchening With Carly, blissful confections by Cocolico (featuring their sweet & salty pretzel nut mix, drizzled in burnt caramel sauce).

  • We’ll Be Pouring Local Artisan Drinks

Our friends at the Pemberton Distillery kicked down their locally produced organic vodka and gin made from, you guessed it, local Pemberton organic potatoes. Wine from Clos du Soleil. For those of you who don’t want alcohol, SIP will be serving their superbly sophisticated soda.

  • Top 3 Reasons Why I Love Being LOCO

  1. I love Vancouver! This city is a hot bed for innovative entrepreneurs and unique small businesses. Our markets are full of talented artisans.
  2. It’s all about relationships. Business connections are good…But, it is much better to have connections derived from shared values for our local Vancouver community. We can see the big picture. It isn’t just about individual successes. It is about collective accomplishment.
  3. It’s fun.

A big shout out to: PacBlue Printing, Salt Spring Coffee, Eclipse Awards, MODO Car Co-op, Belmondo Skin Care, SHIFT Urban Cargo Delivery, UGM and Vancity Credit Union!

thumb_unicef_drawing.jpg

Non-Material Gift Ideas that Make a Big Difference

30 Nov

In our previous post, 5 Tips For Successful Corporate Gift Baskets, we discussed how gifts communicate with gift recipients.“A great gift is like a great conversation.” What do you want to say? How do you create a meaningful gift experience that tells a story?

If you want your gift to communicate a narrative of charity, we suggest Survival Gifts by UNICEF or Christmas Meals by the Union Gospel Mission (UGM). These two charity gift programs have a key strength in common: they directly connect your donation with the donation recipients you seek to assist. Your donation becomes targeted, tangible and more meaningful.

Give Locally: Give the Gift of a Warm and Nourishing Christmas Meal from the Union Gospel Mission

Down the street from the Saul Good office, there is a Union Gospel Mission. When we walk past their facilities at meal times, there is often a long line of folks with empty tummies. It is interesting to see a wide array of diversity. Some people are young. Some are elderly and some of them seem to be wrapping up a day of underpaid manual labour.

The UGM Christmas meal program is so much more than a meal. The staff go above and beyond to create an experience that builds community and brings joy to people who might otherwise spend the holidays in an ongoing state of struggle. Large event tents are assembled and high end meals are served to over 2000 Downtown Eastside residents. It is not simply a gift of food. It is a gift of dignity, warmth, community and connection. Although a holiday meal will not fix all hardships, it provides mental, emotional and physical nourishment.

Give Globally: Give Gifts of Survival from UNICEF

Why not give the gift of saving a child’s life? UNICEF has designed a brilliant program that allows you to purchase gifts that address specific issues. For example, The Family Survival Food Pack is carefully crafted to deliver the most effective and efficient assistance that starving families require. The pack includes a nutrient-packed ration bundle, that staves off malnutrition in children. This pack contains: 15 Plumpy’Nut® Packets, 20 Therapeutic Milk Sachets, 40 Micronutrient Powder Sachets, 50 High Energy Biscuits.

{“video”:”http://vimeo.com/17857668″,”width”:”500″,”height”:”400″}

Additional Examples of Survival Gifts from UNICEF:

  • Local Water Pump

Where children are thirsty, where babies die for lack of hygiene, where girls must forgo school to find water, abundant local water is a magical, transformative gift. Contains: 1 Water Pump for a community.

  • Winter Survival Pack

Give struggling children what they urgently need to survive – protection from diseases, essential nutrients to build strength, and clean water. Contains: 100 Micronutrient Powder Sachets, 85 Measles Vaccines, 85 Polio Vaccines, 500 Water Purification Tablets.

  • Urgent Aid

Make the greatest impact! When you choose this gift, we’ll put your contribution to work where the need is currently most critical. You’ll play an invaluable role in bringing life-changing nutrition, education and relief to the children who need it most, wherever they are in the world.

thumb_kitcheningwithcarly003.jpg

Add a Parisian “Macaron Moment” to Your Local Holiday Gift Experiences.

29 Nov

Since TwentyOSix, the Saul Good Gift Co. has specialized in creating gifts from the best local Vancouver products. Throughout this ongoing journey of discovering excellence, we have enjoyed listening to the stories of Vancouver’s top artisans. Several of these artisans have cultivated old world mastery through their studies in Europe. Although studying abroad may seem counter-intuitive in the local movement, the process of importing knowledge is sustainable. When knowledge and skills are taught and applied to local business, it is an amazing renewable resource.

 

Carly is one of Vancouver’s local artisans who has steeped her skills in the heritage of European knowledge. In addition to studying French cuisine and patisserie training, she advanced her skills to a level that qualified her to become a teacher. After cultivating her ability to create magical “macaron moments”. Carly returned to Vancouver and started creating Parisian macarons locally. One of Carly’s key strengths involves innovative recipes and unique natural ingredients. Her colours and flavours come from ingredients that are pure and whole.

 

We think that there is something artistic and poetic about gifts that are made from scratch by an artisan who refuses to compromise the purity of ingredients and we are grateful to have Carly’s amazing macarons in our local holiday gift baskets.

thumb_yummy jam.jpg

What Does Mr. Good Eat for Breakfast?

18 Nov

Those little jams in gift baskets are kind of cute and they do add some colour to traditional baskets that are suffocating behind layers of cellophane. We respect that some people choose these little ordinary jams as gifts. However, we think that your gift recipient deserves something more unique.

When I created Saul Good Gift Co., I was determined to find the absolute best of the best in BC for our local Vancouver gifts baskets. It has been a long journey and I am proud to say that we have discovered amazing local treasures . When it comes to jam, Missing Goat knocks it out of the park. The ingredients are pure, the sweetness is subtle and you can taste each sun-ripened organic blueberry dance in your mouth….and maybe even sing a little bit.

How is Missing Goat created? It comes from a sixty-year-old certified organic blueberry farm in South Surrey BC. This family-run farm has been creating Missing Goat jam for the past 12 years. In addition to the farm, this family also runs a little shop called the “Shabby Shack”. It is stocked with their own organic jam line and fresh picked organic blueberries. If you want to order blueberries during berry season, be sure to call in advance!

Missing Goat Organic products are handmade. Everything is done by hand. Seriously…everything! The chopping, mixing, stirring and even the labels are done by hand. Each batch of organic jam has three pounds of fruit in it. One batch of jams produces only 6 jars of jam. They use slow cook, old fashioned methods and they do not use commercial pectin. This allows them to use 3x times more fruit than sugar in their recipes.

As you see in the image above, I enjoy Missing Goat jam, organic eggs, organic spelt toast and organic coffee for breakfast before embarking on my daily gift basket adventures. At home, our jar of Missing Goat jam is almost empty. At the Saul Good Gift Co., we believe that everyone deserves a divine jam experience. If you want to add some extra homemade charm to your gift basket, try adding Missing Goat jam. You won’t be disappointed.