Author Archives: Saul Brown

1_paul-hawken-saul-good-1.jpg

How Paul Hawken Inspired the Creation of Saul Good Gift Co.

16 Nov

Last night, Paul Hawken spoke at Vancouver’s historic Orpheum Theatre. The room was packed with social entrepreneurs and inspired Vancouverites, who want to improve the world for our children, and our children’s children. I was happy to see some great local characters in the house! There were students and alumni from Bainbridge Graduate Institute (BGI), local business leaders, (Salt Spring Coffee, Climate Smart, SHIFT Urban Cargo Delivery, Save on Meats, Recycling Alternative), investors (Renewal Partners), non-profit leaders (LOCO BC, SOLE Food Urban Farm, Hollyhock, SFU Woodwards) and local manufacturers (Crown Skis).

Last night was a meaningful evening for me, because Paul Hawken inspired me to embark on the path that led me towards creating local, eco-friendly and socially responsible gift baskets in Vancouver BC. This path began during my undergraduate degree when I was a wide-eyed idealistic Environmental Studies student at the University of Victoria. As I learned more about the state of our planet, I became increasingly daunted by the challenges facing my generation. Although I was well-versed in the problems, I was unsure of where I could find solutions. In the Spring of 2001, I was lucky to read a transcript from a presentation by Paul Hawken.

Hawken’s work helped me to realize that business is an ideal opportunity to address social and environmental issues. He provided a framework for proactive solutions and inspired me to investigate opportunities for strategic change. On a finite planet with limited resources, how can an exponentially growing population survive in a system that continually depletes the Earth’s assets like we’re living off the interest? Innovative solutions are urgently essential.

After studying Hawken’s work, I shifted my path towards sustainable business and enrolled in the Bainbridge Graduate Institue (BGI). This unique graduate school allowed me to dig deeper and explore solutions to social and environmental problems. Through innovation in material, energy and resource use, business can create value beyond profit. In addition to environmental solutions, it is important to look at our planet as one interconnected system and examine how we treat each other.

As humans, we are not separate from the environment and we must find ways to treat each other like precious resources, that cannot be carelessly harmed and mistreated on behalf of financial “gain”. Social enterprises can create important solutions through green jobs, living wages and social justice.

Last night’s inspirational evening was hosted by Vancity Credit Union. In addition to hosting Paul Hawken, Vancity was celebrating 65 years of investing and doing business in Vancouver. This last spring I made a commitment to shift my business banking to a local credit union. I’m proud to announce that we’ve recently started doing business banking with Vancity. As the Saul Good Gift Co. continues to grow, we look forward to nourishing and strengthening relationships throughout our local economy and community.

For more photos from the Paul Hawken event, please click here.

We are Madly in Love with Cocolico Confections

14 Nov

At Saul Good Gift Co., we are spoiled by many opportunities to sample amazing local products in Vancouver and throughout BC. The complex process of selecting chocolates, toffee and confections requires thoughtful deliberation. When a product is featured in our gift baskets, it has been carefully selected as the absolute best in British Columbia. Cocolico products are delicious, locally made organic chocolates by Wendy Boys. They are a culmination of world-class chocolatier skills and a timeless award-winning passion. We originally met Wendy Boys last year and were impressed by her passion. When it comes to creating great gifts…it’s not just about skills, it’s about heart. Wendy exudes an appreciation of chocolate that you can taste in her products.

 

 

Like a true artisan, Wendy understands the importance of texture, subtle uniqueness and visual presentation. When Wendy made the switch over to using organic fair trade chocolate earlier this year, she sealed the deal on being one of our favourite suppliers for Saul Good chocolate gift baskets.  As avid Cocolico fans, we are ecstatic to be carrying some of her newest products! In addition to our vanilla salt caramels, dark chocolate sponge toffee and dark chocolate raspberry sauce, we have expanded our selection to include pretzel nut mix, classic butter salt caramels, organic milk chocolate and dark chocolate bars. All of these confections are easy to share and they are great compliments in many of our corporate gift baskets. The sweet & salty pretzel nut mix is my personal favourite. It consists of Wendy’s own Cocolico Burnt Caramel drenched over an assortment of pretzels, brazil nuts, cashews and roasted almonds.

 

 

Michelle (one of the Saul Good team members) describes Cocolico caramels as “Heaven in your mouth”. Wendy’s new chocolate bars are phenomenal and are featured in many of our holiday gift baskets. It was hard work deciding which ones to select. (Ok. We admit it…Our jobs are pretty delicious at times). Our chocolate gift baskets are now featuring the organic milk chocolate bar with salted toffee and hazelnuts. The best way to describe it is a skor bar fed to you by an angel.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our gourmet gift baskets also feature the organic dark chocolate bar with blueberries and almonds, the organic dark chocolate bar with apricot and the almond and violet chocolate bar. This new take on the classic fruit and nut bar provides a unique experience to share through our corporate gifts. It will most likely start some great conversations!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

clos_du_soliel-saul_good.jpg

Biodynamic Bordeaux by Clos du Soleil Vineyard

09 Nov

Sometimes we search far and wide for the best local products and sometimes our gift discoveries emerge through our network of client relationships. One of our most exciting discoveries has been Clos du Soleil Vineyard. These vintners have created some of BC’s best wines.

 

 

It all began last Christmas when a local Vancouver art gallery placed an order for our reclaimed cedar wine boxes. We engraved each box with their logo and sent it out to several gift recipients. One of these wine boxes was sent to Spencer Massie from Clos du Soleil. Spencer’s biodynamic vineyard thrives in a unique microclimate in BC called the Similkameen Valley. This terroir is the Organic Farming Capital of Canada.

 

Last Spring, Spencer got in touch with us to produce a variety of wooden wine boxes and crates for his winery. This is how I was introduced to the wines of Clos du Soleil. It was an introduction that changed my relationship with wine. In the past I have always gravitated toward light red wine (Pinot Noir for example). However, Clos du Soleil has shifted my attention towards Bordeaux style wine. The first time I tasted the ‘Clos du Soleil Signature Red Wine’ it changed my pallet and broadened my ability to enjoy a glass of wine.

 

When you experience this hand-crafted wine, the flavour and visual presentation are further enhanced by the story of the biodynamic methods that created it. If you aren’t familiar with biodynamic wine, please check out the video at the end of this story.

 

 

At the Saul Good Gift Co., we don’t choose products simply because they are fancy and organic. We think critically and select products based on the overall experience. If you’re looking to give something delicious and unique, try complementing one of our gourmet gift baskets with a bottle of Clos du Soliel. It is a great way to show meaningful appreciation.

 

Spencer Massie & Les LeQuelenec

 

According to Spencer Massie & Les LeQuelenec (above). “The name ‘Clos du Soleil ‘refers to rocks, sun, and soil, from the mountain that forms a tall natural stone wall at the back of the vineyard, the cobbled terroir, and the long days of sun which pour in on the Similkameen Bench, one of BC’s most unique and promising microclimates.”

 

Remember, it is important to be mindful about gifting wine, alcohol, or spirits as a gift. Check out our following blog posts for more insights and information:

 

To learn more about biodynamic wine making, check out this video:

Shift.Delivery

Delivering Gift Baskets with a Shift Delivery Tricycle!

04 Nov


In our previous post, we discussed Climate Smart and how we focus on improving aspects of our business that have the greatest environmental impact: Shipping and Paper use. We are constantly trying to improve and we decided to share a glimpse of how fun this process can be!

 

 

 

In the video above, we are delivering new home gift baskets in Vancouver’s downtown core for new home owners.

 

 

 

How Low Can Our Impact Go?

 

 

 

Our method of transportation with this delivery is through Shift Delivery. As you can see in the video, these guys are awesome! They are replacing conventional delivery trucks by delivering products (up to 600 pounds ) on heavy-duty cargo trikes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The gifts feature Sapadilla green cleaning products. These products are made locally in North Vancouver with premium plant-based ingredients that are naturally effective and kind to your skin. These products are never tested on animals and they smell amazing!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We always look forward to taking our work to the next level. Stay tuned for more Saul Good adventures!

 

 

thumb_gift-baskets-landfill.jpg

Classy Climate Smart Gifts Versus Over-Packaged, Over-Done Gift Baskets Wrapped in Plastic

31 Oct

 

 

Our business was born with the realization that 50 million gift baskets were going into landfills every year. Why should gift experiences generate waste that cannot be re-used or recycled? What does a wasteful gift wrapped in plastic say about your relationship with your friends, family and business associates?

 

 

From day one, we have been committed to locally sourced products and recyclable packaging. At the Saul Good Gift Co., we use 100% recycled and reclaimed paper packaging that is Ancient Forest Free certified.

 

 

 

 

 

 

How Do We Reduce Our Carbon Footprint?

 

As we maintain alignment with our core principles, we are also facing the reality of a growing business and a larger carbon footprint. Our work with Climate Smart has provided important guidance. This local Vancouver social enterprise helps businesses measure and reduce their carbon footprint while cutting costs.

 

We measure the intensity of our carbon footprint in pounds per $100K in revenue. In 2009, we measured 12.9 pounds. In 2010, we measured 5.6 pounds. Even though the total emissions increased from 2009 to 2010 so did the number of gift baskets we produced. We improved our carbon intensity so that the emissions per dollar decreased by more than 50%. Go team!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Where is our Largest Impact?

 

Shipping is a large impact for us.To address this we’ve selected carriers that are carbon neutral and that use hybrid vehicles. For downtown Vancouver gift basket deliveries we work with Shift Delivery, a hybrid electric tricycle delivery business.

 

 

Novex is one of our main couriers. They launched Canada’s 1st 100% electric delivery trucks earlier this year and are Vancouver’s most sustainable courier. For products shipped outside the Lower Mainland we use UPS, which uses alternative fuel vehicles and have recently launched an offset program for emissions generated by shipping

 

 

Paper use is currently our largest contributor of greenhouse gases. Our gift baskets are made with cardboard. In 2009 we changed the production of all our packaging to use 100% post consumer recycled paper. Although we are proud of our practices, there is a small amount of packaging materials that are not 100% recycled. We will continue to search for suppliers with 100% recycled options.

 

 

 

How Can We Improve?

 

In order for us to reduce the intensity of our impact we need to address our packaging in a deeper way. Moving to 100% recycled cardboard was a great first step, but we do not consider this an arrival point. We are continually looking for opportunities to improve.

 

 

The next step for us is addressing paper intensity, finding ways to use less paper fibre, by weight, per gift box produced.

 

 

We are excited about opportunities to reduce our use of paper fibre through innovative design. If we can find ways to redesign the construction of out gift boxes, so they use less materials, we’ll have a solution to reduce our paper intensity.

 

As Saul Good grows to cities across Canada and down the West Coast, we will continue to work with local suppliers to keep our gifts close to home. Over this past year we’ve established an Ontario based business with all products sourced local to Toronto.

 

 

belmondo-products1-Saul-Good-Gifts.jpg

Belmomdo Spa Gift Basket: Nourish and Restore Beauty with Organic Purity

20 Oct

A spa gift experience is always a kind gesture. It indicates that you want the gift recipient to take time to indulge themselves with a relaxing experience. Unfortunately, many spa products contain chemicals and parabens. Wouldn’t you rather give a spa gift basket that is pure, local and nourishing?


belmondo-travelkit-3

At the Saul Good Gift Co., we were excited to discover a pure, locally-made line of indulgent artisan spa products. Belmondo is Italian for ‘beautiful world.’ Each product carries a poetic title (the cloud, the petal, the dew). The Belmondo organic skin care line is designed around the daily rituals of caring for yourself. The ingredients are organic and sourced fair trade whenever possible. Each product provides the opportunity to love yourself and love the earth.

Daniela-Belmondo-Saul-Good

Daniela Belmondo is the creator of these local organic spa products. She is a professional esthetician and she believes that beautiful skin comes from healing and restoration. Her products are derived from the earth’s pure and restorative ingredients. Through nourishing and protecting skin, natural beauty is enhanced. One of Daniela’s favourite ingredients is olive oil. She sources her organic olive oil from Italy, where her family tree has roots.

In addition to providing nourishment and purity, the Belmondo skin care line has a deeper purpose; To encourage people to take time for themselves daily (even if it’s just 5 minutes). Daniela’s core passion is to help educate people about the importance of taking time out for themselves. In order to have a relationship with anyone or anything, it is most important to care for yourself.


quench_vineyard.jpg

Our Favourite Non-Alcoholic Holiday Drinks for 2011: Sip Soda and Quench Cordial Test

11 Oct

The holidays are often a time of indulgence and libations. However, many colleagues, friends or family members might be choosing to avoid alcohol during their holiday festivities. At Saul Good Gift Co., we think that everyone deserves to celebrate with a classy beverage full of unique flavours and nutritious ingredients. Alcohol alternatives don’t have to suck. Forget about excessive sugar, artificial flavours and juices that give you flashbacks to your childhood. Non-alcoholic drinks have been upgraded.

After searching far and wide, we have selected 2 beverages from local BC businesses that are deliciously unique. From spiced fruits to infused botanicals, these beverages carry the complexities that a refined palette desires. In addition to enjoying the nutrients and flavours, you can also pair these drinks with your favourite holiday meals.

Quench Cordial

quench_logoSpiced Fruits by Quench Cordial makes a perfect holiday drink. This heavy-bodied beverage includes black cherries, pomegranates, cranberries, elderberries, apples and oranges. The folks at Quench Cordial gather local BC fruits and then carefully formulate their product, in order to deliver the highest level of antioxidants. The Spiced Fruits cordial is enhanced with slight hints of saigon cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and cane sugar. Cordials are versatile drinks that can be served hot or cold. You can also get creative and incorporate cordial into food recipes!

SIP Soda

Holiday-Office-Party-Gift-BasketThis line of soda facilitates an experience that is fun and sophisticated. SIP stands for “Simple, Infused, Pairings of Botanicals and Fruit”. Each flavour is light and unique. The SIP soda company was founded by local Food Scientist and Fine Water Connoisseur, Jennifer Martin. Each flavour is subtle and can be enjoyed throughout the entire evening. Out of these 3 flavours, we think that Rosemary Lime is the best for savory holiday dishes. Coriander Orange pairs nicely with spicy food and Lavender Lemon Peel is excellent with deserts or sipped slowly on it’s own.

You can find Quench Cordial and SIP Soda in our Office Party – Holiday Edition series gift baskets.

Chocolate_Gift_Basket.jpg

5 Tips For Successful Corporate Gift Baskets

05 Oct

Connectivity and relationships build the foundation of thriving corporate cultures. In order to maintain strong relationships, it is essential to give the right gifts to the right people. Thoughtfulness is always more important than cost. If gift-giving is executed poorly, it can cause more harm than good.

Over the last 5 years I’ve learned a lot about corporate gift baskets. The following tips are helpful insights that will allow you to express your appreciation to all of your wonderful employees, clients and networks.

1. Be memorable! A great gift is like a great conversation. Think about what you want to say. Do you want to say thank you? Do you want to let the recipient know a bit about your business? If you want to stand out as memorable, it is important to communicate what you remember about the gift recipient. When your gift references a previous conversation, it indicates that you are actively listening and engaged in the relationship you are building.

2. Be consistent. If you are creative and innovative, it is ideal to give a gift that is creative and innovative. Nothing says stagnant thinking like a big basket wrapped in cellophane and a giant ribbon. An over-packaged gift experience is like an insincere conversation that is cluttered with empty compliments. Why would you give someone large amounts of shiny plastic that can’t be recycled? Ever wonder what happens to those little jams and shelf stable cheese? So do we.

3. Be Sustainable. Sustainable gifts show thoughtfulness for the gift recipient and the planet.

4. Be subtle with your branding. You want to stay top of mind with the gift you’re giving, not make someone feel like a walking advertisement. It’s tempting to want to put your logo all over everything that you’re sending out. However, big noisy logos are like conversations where one person is talking about themselves the entire time. Most listeners will tune out. Be mindful about how you want people to interact and use your gift for years to come. A useful gift with a subtle touch of your logo creates an ongoing friendly reminder of your business throughout the year.

5. Be Authentic. Consider delivering your gifts personally. When you can look someone in the eye and shake their hand, you are creating an impression that is more memorable than any other means of communication. If you cannot be physically present, you can facilitate a meaningful connection through a customized greeting. This instills a personalized experience. The gift recipient will enjoy the fact that this gift is special. When a gift is special and personal, you are creating an authentic and long lasting impression.

Potluck_Cafe_at_319_Main_St_Vancouver.jpg

Celebrating 10 Years At Successful Vancouver Social Enterprise

30 Sep

Quietly, sometimes not so quietly, social enterprise and social innovation have been gaining momentum over the last decade in Vancouver. Last night I walked from our Strathcona office to District 319, a historic eastside theatre. As I walked over to the event, I thought about everything that has been accomplished by the The Potluck Café over the past decade.

It has been 10 years of providing nourishing food, education and jobs to Vancouver Downtown Eastside residents. This social enterprise is a successful community economic development model. They run a professional Café and Catering enterprise that serves hundreds of socially-responsible corporate and non profit clients. Their ability to thrive in business allows them to also succeed as a charity. Revenue is re-invested into 5 community social programs that are integrated into their daily services.

A highlight of the the anniversary celebration was hearing Heather O’Hara recognize the people who not only started the operation but made it happen. Hearing stories from the beginning inspire me. Running a successful business is hard enough work on it’s own. When you add in the complexity of training and employing people who have barriers to employment and housing, it adds a whole new layer of complexity.

The staff at the Potluck are always bustling and moving. In addition to the Café and Catering, they serve over 30,000 free meals annually to residents of the DTES who are suffering physically and mentally. The process of feeding folks achieves more than address hunger and malnutrition. Through the Community Kitchen programs, DTES residents gather to cook together and build relationships. This makes nutritious food accessible to low income and “hard to house” individuals. It also builds community surrounding health.

The Potluck Café is guided by their core values: Quality, Respect, Acceptance, Diversity, Commitment and Innovation.

10_years_at_Potluck_Cafe_social_enterprise_in_VancouverIt is exciting to see a social enterprise that does more that serve a community and do good. They equip residents with the ability to
cook nutritious meals and the skills to sustain themselves with employment. The Integrated Food Services & Life Skills Training and Employment Program has trained and employed dozens of DTES residents with barriers to employment.

So much has been achieved over the years. However, Potluck doesn’t seem to think that there is any sort of arrival point. They continue to innovative on a daily basis. It’s my hope that in the new year we can work together to bring some of their products to market through our corporate gift baskets business.

kid-reading-adopt-a-school.jpg

“Adopt a School” Innovates School Fundraising: Give the Gift of Reading while Buying Holiday Gifts

28 Sep

Did you know that our school budgets do not allow for one book per child? Our literary resources are depleted. What can we do to replenish the shelves of school libraries? Adopt a School is providing an innovative solution that allows any one of us to give the gift of reading as we purchase holiday gifts.

Kiss that last box of chocolate almonds goodbye! There’s no need to buy pizza coupons or boxes of cookies to support the school fundraiser any more.

Fundraising for schools has just been upgraded.

When I buy a $25 gift card through the Adopt A School program, I not only get $25 worth of books (which would be fair enough) but I also get to support your kid’s school. I win, you win and Indigo wins too. The program builds goodwill in the community and we all get to feel good about shopping at a socially responsible business. Hundreds of schools across Canada are on board, check to see if there’s one in your community.

Holiday gift ideas

Step #1 Pre-buy gift cards, (especially if you plan any holiday gift shopping at Chapters / Indigo).

Step #2 Help spread the word as these special gift cards can only be bought until Oct. 1st.

Adopt A School is a program from our friends at Better The World, a leader in connecting corporations with community. They were also the first Canadian B Corporation (a group that Saul Good Gift Co. is proudly aligned with).

I was lucky to meet the folks behind Better The World at a conference in Toronto called In Good Company. It is always great to meet like-minded entrepreneurs who are passionate about social and environmental issues. When this passion is translated into innovative business, their work become a source of inspiration that creates value for everyone. That’s what new school business is all about!