The Good Shop Celebrates Business, New Location During Art for Art’s Sake
NEW ORLEANS — Tippy Tippens launched her company nine years ago with a simple yet impactful product: tiny, bird-shaped soaps. But now, the social entrepreneur — and “chief eternal optimist” of Goods That Matter — offers a wide range of home goods, handmade with eco-friendly materials, here in the United States. Ten-percent of all proceeds benefit causes that help the environment, and nourish the health and happiness of communities throughout the world.
On Saturday evening, during Art for Art’s Sake, Tippens will host a party in her new Lower Garden District shop (1114 Josephine Street) to celebrate the company’s success and future collaborations. The event takes place from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. and features paintings from Cubs the Poet, beverages from Seven Three Distilling Company and Urban South Brewery, food, and fun giveaways.
“Our company is all about giving back,” said Tippens. “We’re very particular in every detail of the product and the way the business is run, and very thoughtful about how that affects the environment and how it treats people.”
Tippens moved from Brooklyn to New Orleans in September of 2010, after the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill in the Gulf of Mexico, and created a Kickstarter campaign for BirdProject Soap. Each product from this line – a black, bird-shaped soap – contains an ivory ceramic bird that becomes a keepsake once the outer soap has washed away. Part of the proceeds are donated to environmental cleanup efforts and care for animals affected by the disaster.
Following the success of that Kickstarter campaign, Tippens began creating new products for new causes, and developing her company: Goods That Matter. Around this time, Tippens, who holds a master’s degree in industrial design from Pratt Institute and a B.F.A. from Virginia Commonwealth University, enhanced her business skills by completing Propeller’s Fellowship & New Ventures Accelerator program.
She sells products online and in her store.
Among its many philanthropic commodities, Goods That Matter offers canvas tote bags that benefit the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), kitchen towels that support The Coral Reef Alliance, candles aimed at reuniting immigrant children with their families, and even a first aid kit that lends a hand to LearnToLive, a non-profit that provides healthcare, education, and clean water access in Indonesia, Africa, and Laos.
“All of our products give back to a different partner cause, and sort of ties to the issue that it gives back to,” she said, explaining how notebooks benefit education programs.
As the first Benefit Corporation in the state of Louisiana, Goods That Matter has donated nearly $36,000 to their partner causes. Benefit Corporations use the power of business to solve social and environmental problems, by reinforcing the benefits of a triple bottom line business, attracting impact investors, and conducting business for social good. But this business model comes with challenges.
“I’ve definitely gone the slow growth path, for not pursuing investment,” said Tippens. “I had to hustle to make the sales.”
After Tippens established Goods That Matter through internet sales, she moved into collective market spaces.
“Doing the markets is what really drove me to want to have a permanent home, a place that you set everything up and it stays there,” said Tippens, recalling her inspiration to open a physical shop.
She acknowledges that the retail industry is difficult, because it’s affected by the weather, elections, and any occurrence that influences spending patterns.
“I’ve found that it’s a really nice blend of having an online store and a brick-and-mortar store,” said Tippens. “People still like to see things in person and smell them in person. Our candles have become our top product, and each scent gives to a different cause. It’s also nice that our location is a mix of locals and people that are visiting New Orleans.”
Tippens is currently developing a new candle scent in collaboration with Electric Girls, a local nonprofit that teaches young girls about science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). She also hopes to grow her company’s product line by adding lighting and furniture items, and expand Goods That Matter’s online presence.
“We’ve had ups and downs over the past nine years,” said Tippens. “But I think people like our products because they really connect with the story behind each product.”
Suzanne Pfefferle Tafur is the associate news editor of BizNewOrleans.com.