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Redefining the Good Life: A First Look at #SB17Detroit

Sustainable Brands 2017 Detroit Wants To Redefine The Good Life

I thought is was apropos that Sustainable Brands (#SB17Detroit) decided to move their 2017 Conference to Detroit. There really isn’t a better place in my humble opinion. Detroit has had to take a hard look at itself and figure out how to drag its corpse from the ashes of bankruptcy. A catastrophe that clearly affected the housing market, the educational system, not to mention delivering basic needs to Detroiters. But I’ve discovered  a city on the upswing. Detroiters are fiercely proud of their city. They are rebuilding Detroit and restoring it back to the greatness of the heyday of Motown and Ford Motor Company. Businesses believe in it. Detroiters believe in it. Their pride is contagious. I’m already trying to figure out when I can get back here to properly explore and soak up the city buzz. So this was the perfect place for Sustainable Brands 2017 Detroit to pop a tent and talk about sustainability and making the world a better place.

The theme for this year’s Sustainable Brands event is “Redefining the Good Life”. I thought that was an interesting title. Did we somehow let the good life slip right by us? Are we currently not living the good life? Does the ‘Good Life’ need to be redefined? The answer is yes to all of these questions depending on who you are and where your core beliefs stand. For most people, they spend so much time just trying to work a job that they  moderately like, get to the grocery store before it closes, help their  kids with homework that they don’t remotely understand and get something resembling nutrition on their  tables at night. The ‘Good Life’ for them is deferred. They imagine themselves partaking in the ‘Good Life’ when they retire and not a second before that. Then there’s the segment of the population who believe that they are living the ‘Good Life’. They work at a job that they love, they enjoy social activities with friends, they donate to causes that they believe in, and are able to sleep well at night. But are they truly connected to their fellow man, to the state of our planet?  Then there are the disruptors. Those conscientious animals who know that the “Good Life’ most definitely needs to be redefined. It should mean so much more to us than just the normalcy of our daily routines. It should also mean so much more to the brands that we buy.

But we have been sold a bill of goods with no receipt. We’ve been bamboozled by the ultimate Jedi mind trick. “Over the last century, the skill of Madison Avenue has deliberately trained us from citizens into consumers,” said Sustainable Brands Founder and CEO, KoAnn Vikoren Skrzyniarz. “No longer are we necessarily focused on life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. But we’ve been trained to care about white teeth, fancier clothes, a bigger house and faster car,” she added. But at what price? Our current consumption habits have led us down a dangerous alley. One that leads to filling our lives with things that we may not necessarily need to make us feel something that is probably temporary and artificial. Not to mention the harm that our over-consumption is having on the well-being of our fellow man and our world we purport to love so much.

But this just cannot continue. There is a lot at stake, my fellow citizens. That’s why I like disruptors like KoAnn. There would not been any social change in this country without disruptors. They give the middle finger to the status quo. I mean let’s be honest, where would our country be without them? You know like Nikola Tesla, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Martin Luther King, Woodward & Bernstein or Eileen Fisher? Not very far, I can tell you. That’s what Sustainable Brands Detroit ‘17 is all about. Disrupting the status quo by redefining how we can be our best selves in order to transform our  businesses in a way that encourages consumers to create a purpose-driven society that will care for each person and our planet.

Sustainable Brands 2017 is a call for attendees to be bold and brave in their respective markets—to take risks. To accept the challenge for them to do their part by learning how to seamlessly integrate sustainability into their businesses in ways that will allow them to affect the social change that can benefit society as a whole, not just their bottom lines. Every business has a role to play in sustainability. Can brands move from their aspirational goals to full-fledged advocacy? If so, what will it take to get there?

Since this is my first year attending, I really don’t have any prior experience to compare it to. I know that the format is new. There are two plenary sessions; one in the morning and one in the afternoon. These sessions are equally as inspirational as these sessions are educational. What are companies doing to embed sustainability and social benefits so that it feels organic and aligns with their brand promises and core business values? It’s a big social share. Here’s what we are doing. Maybe it will help a light bulb to go off in your company. These sessions are followed by more intimate and specialized sessions that focus on a variety of subjects impacting global businesses and their journeys to implement social causes. In the Activation Hub, there are brands knee-deep in sustainability who are seeking to connect with like brands. What’s a conference without a competition? The SB Innovation Open is a business plan competition providing the opportunity for next-gen brands to showcase innovative solutions addressing current environmental, social and economic issues. The winner will receive valuable consultations with Whirlpool and Ford Motor Company. You also have several opportunities to connect with peers at networking hours and during lunch/dinner. It’s a sustainable love-fest.

My favorite quote thus far has come from Raphael Bemporad, Founding Partner at BBMG. “How might you (the brand) meet my needs (the consumer) in a way that doesn’t harm others and connects me to something bigger.” This quote is spot on. I now have the confidence to keep expanding my brand in a way that aligns with my core beliefs. I feel more confident than ever that Façon Magazine has a distinct role to play in the sustainability conversation. I’m looking forward to hearing more, being inspired.

Learn more about the sustainability movement and Sustainable Brands on their website.


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