Starting a sustainable lifestyle is no easy feat. A complete renunciation of one's way of life is needed, thwarting deeply-rooted ideals to make way for more eco-friendly habits. And if you're determined to fully committing to make the switch, online store Our Source is here to help you. Formed by five young entrepreneurs, Our Source is poised to be your ultimate fount of all earth-friendly and ethically-sourced items.
Below, we talk to the team as they tell us more about their brand, what they stand for, and what they hope to achieve.
What is Our Source? What's the concept behind the brand's name?
"Our Source is the source for all things sustainable–from products to information. The choice of “Our” as opposed to “Your” is an invite to all those who want to take part in the journey to sustainability and join this growing community."
Could you tell us how you came up with the brand? Who else is on the team?
"It all started with an idea pitched by one member (Fiel) to a friend (Kat). We thought we would need a team that would have a degree of expertise in three aspects: Marketing, environmental science, management/procurement, and all with a shared passion for sustainability. In a few weeks time, this pair became a team of five: Fiel Buencamino and Katherine Cruz handle the brand's accounts and operations; Nicole Cruz and Chesca Buencamino are in charge of the marketing and public relations arm of Our Source, and Marion Molina does research and development for the company."
Why did you decide to go into promoting eco-friendly brands?
"In this digital age, no one can turn away from news about depleting natural resources, hotter climate and rising sea levels, microplastics, and the ever-polluting fashion industry. They’re everywhere. And while some just scroll through the bad news that has become our reality, we’ve decided to use technology in our favor: To educate people on the problem, and make the solution easily accessible to them.
"We recognize the need for more products that have less negative impact on our planet. We know that the best solution is still to consume less, but consumer behavior and mindset are quite difficult to change, especially when people have no clue on the impact their actions have on the world they live in, and the world they’ll leave behind. We know that the shift to sustainability doesn’t happen overnight, that’s why through educating consumers, we believe promoting earth- and ethically-friendly products is the first and most immediate step we can take.
"We want to help not only the local brands but local sustainable brands to become more visible. By supporting them, we wish to encourage more enterprises to take the sustainable route as well."
Your brand promises all things made sustainable. How do you plan on executing this through your pieces? How does Our Source select the homegrown brands to be included in your online hub?
"We usually find local brands online that promote themselves as sustainable. We get in touch, know the brand, their advocacies, and how they make their products to determine if they really are sustainable. With Marion leading R&D, we further study the brand by conducting a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA). This means assessing the five stages of their products’ lifecycle: how materials are sourced and created, how they’re manufactured and packaged, how they’re transported, how they’re used, and how they’re disposed of.
"On our website, every brand is marked with an LCA-tested badge along with how well they did in our test. We hope that by showing the results, people can make more informed decisions to support a sustainable lifestyle."
Let's talk about your business model. Why did you decide to curate over manufacturing or developing your own line?
"Well, we’re a small group and we’re only in the initial phase of our business. The end goal, however, is to be able to manufacture our own line of sustainable products and to hopefully produce on a B2B (business-to-business) level because we think that will create more of an impact. This is difficult to achieve as of now, given our lack of resources—both materials and skills. But we still wanted to promote sustainability in a way that’s relatable yet knowledgeable. And so, we focused on addressing the problem of inaccessible sustainable products from local brands and the lack of information on sustainable consumerism. This way, we are able to see our advocacy come to life by encouraging local businesses and consumers to choose a more sustainable path."
How does your partnership with brands start? How do both sides benefit in this current set up?
"We usually contact them through their online platforms then meet with them to discuss their brand’s stories and their products. In these meetings, we also introduce our e-commerce platform and vision & mission to them.
"We believe our partner brands benefit from being on Our Source by providing their brand and products with more visibility and an additional channel to promote and sell. With our current dropshipping set-up, we also take away their logistic hassles by being the one to pick up and deliver their products to customers. They also get a lot of content made for them and marketed for them by Our Source through the different spotlight and feature articles and videos produced and posted on the Our Source site and all Our Source social media platforms.
"Our Source, on the other hand, gets to have a more personal relationship with the brands as the owners are directly communicated with constantly. Our Source is also able to collaborate with the brands to produce quality content for the public to educate them on all things sustainable.
"Our Source and its partner brands are able to help each other improve each other’s businesses. Our Source benefits from this relationship by refining its logistical processes (and discovering new methods!) along the way and by learning the back-end aspect of local sustainable brands. On the other hand, partner brands benefit by gaining insight about its current business models through Our Source’s Sustainable Solutions Program."
Why did you decide to pursue this business online? Will you ever do pop-up events or set up your own shop?
"Our sustainability advocacy involves lessening our impact on the environment. By creating an online business we reduce the resources that would have otherwise been expended and utilized in building a physical store. We plan on joining bazaars/pop-up events and hopefully become involved in sustainability talks and discussions and other events promoting this greener lifestyle."
What sets your business apart from other businesses that are similar to your own?
"What definitely sets Our Source apart is its focus on information. We noticed that other sustainable e-commerce platforms in the metro are product-driven, but through our market research, we learned that people like to know what’s in it for them. Shopping isn’t just about seeing pretty pictures. We also learned that there are a lot of people who are aware of sustainable consumerism but this doesn’t necessarily translate into action. And so, we decided to zero in on information. We not only highlight how a product lessens its impact on the environment, but we also provide basic information and news about sustainability in general. That way, consumers not only make more informed decisions, but they get to carry out the lifestyle all on their own. This Our Source customer journey doesn’t just end there. We want people to continue the dialogue with us through our social media platforms."
Do you have other initiatives you offer to local entrepreneurs?
"Besides being an additional channel and e-commerce platform for local entrepreneurs, we offer the Sustainable Solutions Program to our partner brands. Through this program, we conduct a Life Cycle Assessment of their business model, especially their manufacturing process, to provide more insight into how their brand/business is in terms of being sustainable. This also allows brands to see what aspects of their business they need to work on to become more sustainable. The results of the LCA are seen in the product description so that consumers can learn more about the brands they shop. It’s all about transparency."
Why is it important to cultivate and to patronize homegrown and eco-friendly brands?
"It is little known that sustainability doesn’t just involve the environment. As evidenced by the Three P’s (people, planet, profit), sustainability involves three aspects: environmental, economic and social. By patronizing homegrown and eco-friendly brands we are able to achieve all three. Having eco-friendly products allows us to achieve the environmental aspect of sustainability and lessen our carbon footprint. By promoting and cultivating homegrown brands that are sustainable, we encourage and push for fair employment practices and contribute to the growth of the local economy. We have a lot of local resources that make more sustainable alternatives to the common materials used in everyday consumer goods. In this way, we do not only help cultivate local entrepreneurs but even champion local agriculture and industries."
What can we expect from Our Source in the future?
"Definitely more partner brands with unique stories to tell, greater variety of products, sustainability events and talks, fun content, and hopefully our own line of sustainable products! We hope that people can join our community by following us on Instagram and Facebook."