12 Buy Less Choose Well and Make it Last – Building a New Sustainable Brand with The Good Kiind’s Courtney Stewart

Aug 17, 2021 | Environmental Health, Episodes, Reducing Plastics, Sustainability

My Kindness Calendar's Maran Stern-Kubista

In today’s episode, we chat with Courtney Stewart from The Good Kiind. We explore why Courtney shut down her reusable silicone label business at the height of success to start a brand new company, and learn what lessons she learned from her first go at entrepreneurship. We discover why she decided to launch her new business with plastic-free, litterless lunch options, how the community supported her when an established brand launched a similar product, why you shouldn’t rush out to buy her product if you have a lunch box already, and how she’s planning to use the Good Kiind to create meaningful change.

If you want to learn more about Courtney and her endlessly reusable mealtime essentials for families on-the-go visit thegoodkiind.com. Looking for litter-proof lunch solutions for back to school? They are available to order now. You can follow along with Courtney on her mission to helping you sustainably and mindfully tackle life with littles on Facebook or Instagram.

About the Host


I'm Jennifer Myers Chua. The Host and Producer of the Cost Of Goods Sold podcast. I'm an entrepreneur, a creative, a cookbook fanatic, mother.  I have always been interested in hearing people's stories and I've been determined to change the world for as long as I can remember.

You'll find me at home in Toronto deconstructing recipes, listening to podcasts, enjoying time with friends or wandering alone through a big city.  I'm excited to have you here. Let's do better, together.


Episode Transcript


Jennifer Myers Chua: It’s back-to-school season already. And in retail, this is a really big deal. In mid to late summer, millions of parents begin stocking up on school essentials, things like book bags, lunch boxes, lunch bags, pencils, and other supplies. And everything needs to be labelled with the child’s name. Which is how I came across Nomi & Sibs. A brand that sold multi-purpose silicone labels to stretch over water bottles, snack, tins, pencil cases. Colorful fun, endlessly reusable. I labelled all of our family’s things and bought more as gifts.

And they were definitely popular. Nomi & Sibs had a strong social media following. I’d see them in the school yard. And so I was incredibly surprised when the founder Courtney announced that they’d be shutting down. Sales were strong, support for women-owned and black-owned businesses had never been stronger. Why this choice?

And I couldn’t help, but think about Instagram. See late in 2019, One of the large Canadian label brands had launched their new product. This is a brand started by a mom of five and it ended up growing and being sold to a major international corporation. So this brands, personalized bottle bands, as they called them were pretty much indistinguishable from Nomi & Sibs. Side-by-side it was hard to see a difference. And The mom community also saw this and voiced this loudly in the comment section. I assumed that something was going on here with this behind the scenes. And we’ll go more into this in a bit.

Shortly after receiving my last order of the Nomi & Sibs labels, the site went down to re-emerge this summer as The Good Kiind. And I have to admit that I am even more excited about Courtney’s new venture.

The first product with The Good Kiind is the B.I.G. It’s the box and go. A stainless steel lunchbox, safe, and will last for years. It’s made from really high quality materials and it’s completely plastic free. Made so that little one can really lug it around for all of elementary. So you don’t have to buy a new box each fall. And since the average family in north America is using hundreds of single use plastic sandwich bags and plastic wrappers a year, all which head into landfill. This is an impactful switch.

I asked Courtney about that competitor. And if this was the reason for the change, but she has a positive view on the situation. Commenting on the tremendous support that she received from her customers and how much this gave her the confidence to move forward with a new idea. A brand that’s really rooted in her own ideas of living a low waste life. And for the competition. Courtney’s always been really athletic. And so she views business. Like she does athletics. She’s ready to take on the challenge.

Courtney Stewart: Yeah, I grew up playing sports all my life. And so you see a lot of athletes turn into entrepreneurs. It’s that like, go get her, gotta win sort of, attitude inside that never really leaves you when you’re done sports. So, I actually played basketball in university. A lot of people don’t know that about me. I played division one basketball in Ohio. So, and I studied business.

Jennifer Myers Chua: Courtney started her career in corporate America. She worked for really large companies and she considers this period to be vital training for what she decided to do afterwards. After starting her family, Courtney wanted to explore doing her own thing rather than working for somebody else. And she wanted to start a business that aligned with her values, but she wasn’t exactly sure what that could look like. She came across an idea for personalized labels for drinkware. The concept was to be able to use one label from baby bottle to sippy cup, to thermos, reusing that one label across multiple stages. It was the idea of creating something endlessly reusable that was so appealing. She couldn’t find anything similar available in Canada. So she set out to work, looking into materials and manufacturers.

Courtney Stewart: I’d already started myself on that journey of, products that are a little bit better, a little bit better for the environment, definitely better for us into our home. So started there and did that for a few years, but quickly realized before the three years that you know, personalized business as you scale up is very challenging. The challenges were very difficult to overcome.

Jennifer Myers Chua: Courtney began to run into quality control issues with her manufacturing partner. And she tried to take that personalization piece into house. But the laser engraving was proving to be a huge challenge and getting this into retail was proving to be a huge challenge. And then she had to rely on fulfillment centers in Canada and the us, which also wasn’t working out. Maybe this could have been overcome. Courtney was beginning to see it as a sign that it was time to try something else.

Courtney Stewart: Unfortunately we were very busy and at those times too, and being a small business I don’t think we were a huge priority for them. And There were just a lot of issues, a lot of error, a lot of quality control. And it ultimately solidified what I had already been feeling. And then we wrapped up the business, we wrapped up we’re calling it a pivot, but we wrapped up the labels of any personalized products. about six months ago in December, so, started the new year fresh and been working on The Good Kiind ever since.

Jennifer Myers Chua: Have there been any really significant events in your life that have shaped how you see the world and how you see the world this way?

Courtney Stewart: My father passed away when I was 13 and I feel like, as a dad, he was just like robbed right of so many years with his kids and his family. And I think that’s something that has stuck with me. To think, like, what could he have done? What could, what impact could he have made in those years that he, lost and it, I think it makes me as a parent really want to, leave a legacy of some kind, like, be impactful in some way. I don’t want to just live. I want to live with purpose and I want to have it like, meaning I want, when somebody, says my name or, even my kids. And they’re like, oh, her mom, recycling lady, or, that lady who like, she’s trying to inspire, people to do the right thing. Like that’s important to me. Because I, I think it makes you feel really good to, to bring out the goodness in people. And it’s something that is very selfless to do. But I think if there


something that I think about often, I think about, my dad and his time lost and the impact that he, could have continued making or what the things he could have gotten into that, what he was passionate about that could have, you know, helped shape the future. I feel like we’re here for a reason and it’s an unselfish reason. It’s, it’s beyond, ourselves, it’s gotta have a purpose and it’s got to impact others.

Jennifer Myers Chua: What exactly is the good kind. What are your products? And what are you all about?

Courtney Stewart: The Good Kiind from a product standpoint is an accessible line of kind of safe plastic-free high-end premium, good quality planet friendly mealtime solutions. Essentials for families. And the whole idea behind it is this is what I practice in my life is when you know, better through education and learning and listening to people you want to do better, I at least want to do better. So that’s really what I want to inspire. And hopefully through, our products and our content and how we can be out there in front of people we want to inspire people to live with purpose, choose products that are better for you, but better for the planet, better for your kids and your families. And essentially, that’s kind of like embodying the good kind you’re making The Good Kiinds of decisions, you’re being The Good Kiind of person and doing the things that like make you feel good that you do, even when nobody’s watching, all of these things tied into one, we’re still working out the messaging, but it’s a good kind of feeling, really like the things that you do that really make you feel good because, you did the right thing. It was a message. And we’re doing that. The avenue is through our product.

Jennifer Myers Chua: What was your thought path if you had this idea for maybe. More sustainable products or products that are better for your family. Why did you start with lunch?

Courtney Stewart: I think this is the athlete in me, the timing of the year when we decided to pivot and the season I really wanted to hit, this is a strategic business. Was definitely back to school. I felt like we had that audience already, that we had a back-to-school product that was important prior to previously. So I felt like it was a good fit. you know, Looking back, it was definitely very rushed. Definitely one thing I’ve learned as an entrepreneur is just like having goals and, trying to push it, push it. It’s great. But sometimes you just need to take your time with things. And so I’m definitely learning that, but that’s really why we wanted to drive this whole out of the home, on the go part of the line first. And then the goal will be to move into at-home solutions within the next probably 12 months.

Jennifer Myers Chua: With little ones at home. I’m assuming that you’ve gone through a number of lunchboxes. So what were the issues with the lunchboxes that you’ve seen already like what kind of changes are you trying to make with your new product?

Courtney Stewart: We’re not the first to come up with a similar concept, in terms of a lunchbox that’s attached where, you’ve got all the options, the way little kids, like to see it when they open up a lunchbox when they’re at school. But we did see some things that need to be changed. And so, one of the things that were pain points for parents who were using, similar style, bento boxes, some plastic, some stainless, somewhat not but hands down, number one thing that we heard complaint, was it leaking and leaking in terms of not necessarily just that like the lid, the leaking inside. So, when they would open it, the hummus would be uh, it’s already dipped for you, you know, things like that. And when it comes to your kids, God love them, but they might not want to eat that if they see soggy crackers. So I always want to set my kids up for success.

So I want to set them up so that when they open that lunch, they’re enticed to eat it. They’ve got a lot of options that are still the way they were when we pack that lunch. And so I really wanted to go off of that pain point and make something better. Like I said, we’re not the first stainless steel. We’re not the first bento box, but I feel like we’ve made some really good improvements. And in that way, with adding that silicone seal on the lid that, it does not allow anything to move around inside. So when those kids are shuffling and running to their school bus or from the school bus and whatnot, nothing’s moving. So parents can be confident that when they opened that lunch box, hopefully there’ll be excited to see what they what’s inside.

Jennifer Myers Chua: We’ve had school shutdowns here for over a year and a half. And. I only started, revisiting our lunchbox solutions for summer camp lately and was surprised to see that one of the lunchboxes that we use is a plastic lunchbox with a silicone interior. And it was noticing that the silicone was kind of coming back. And when I did some Googling. There are known issues with some of these plastic bento boxes and mold, which I found. Not only surprising. But i found it really alarming

Courtney Stewart: whenever things can get in those cracks. Right? It’s hard whether it, honestly, if it’s plastic or stainless, of course, like, I feel like stainless, you can get a better clean in there, you can put it in the dishwasher and nothing’s going to change shape. And our silicone seal, it comes off so that you can clean in there, every night, if you want or weekly, whatever. Those nooks and crannies that you can’t get to, sometimes they tend to leave mold. And, we’re talking about eliminating toxins through, better materials of like food plates and containers. And then, potentially there’s mold hidden in the crevices of those containers. I think that’s this through education. I remember one time I was I were very popular brand water bottles, stainless water bottle. They had it, it was a plastic. And unless you popped like the center of the lid out, you never would see, but inside, there was exactly where the kids are having taken a drink from. It was garbage in there. And so you really had to know to like, get that straw cleaning, stick in there and really clean because we’re, we’re giving them the great products to be using and what not, but, the toxins are there and the mold and everything, like that’s just as harmful or if not worse. So, it, it’s important to be able to have a solution that, can easily in clean those things away and access potential nooks and crannies. Very easy.

Jennifer Myers Chua: I do want to talk a little bit more about materials in your choices there, but I’d like to go further backwards into your life. Maybe before the good kind maybe before your first business but why is sustainability or why is going plastic free so important to you? Do you have a moment that stands out where you had this shift and when you decided you wanted to make change in this way?

Courtney Stewart: I think it was definitely over time. It had been, a journey that I would go in, come out of. But after having kids and just, shifting my mind in general to, know better and, and do better and everything, I, when, you know, when you have kids, it’s just about, they’re looking up to you, I’m responsible for this human, right. And I want to put out the best human I can. And so I want to embody and be a really good example for my kids. And, what better way to do that? Then, in the kitchen, doing the right thing for, for our home and for, our health and nutrition, but also for beyond that, unselfishly for the planet and for the world.

And so, choosing reusable products limiting containers and packaging and things like that, it all just over time, and I definitely in the last six years has become so important to me. And I hope to have made some change, even in my community. I’m like a big advocate for recycling. So I’m always encouraging. We have like little recycling competitions if you can only put out one black garbage bag, A week and like fill your recycling bins because it’s the way it should be really. And so, we’ve got people and got friends involved in our like gold box competitions with recycling and things like that. It’s something that it matters to me. And I can truly tell you that if I see somebody put like a plastic water bottle, which I don’t know why people use those anyway, but a single use water bottle in the garbage, it literally, I cringe. Like there’s something, it bothers me so much. And I think that’s just the person I become, I’m thinking about our footprint, what we’re doing, and what’s going to affect our kids and my grandkids when I’m not here. So I’ve got to, I’ve got to do something now. And I feel like this is what I can do now to help that. So, and hopefully encourage others around me to do the same.

I have not bought Ziploc bags in years. It was a goal of mine, I think by the end of 2019 to have like a plastic free kitchen. So we don’t have any plastic cups or plastic dishware, you know, all that trendy, the colorful stuff, the kids always want to go get it. But we’ve really moved away and obviously it’s caused me a lot of glass dishes over the years and cups. But hopefully our line we’ll fill that in soon, but yeah, I have a plastic free kitchen, so everything everything that our food touches is either stainless or glass. So something I’m very proud of. It’s hard to do though. It’s hard and you got to work it out. But I’ve made sure when people come to my house with like a plastic container with food, I just send them back home. Like I can’t have plastic in my house.

Jennifer Myers Chua: You were working on closing your first business. What’s the story of coming up with the idea for this new business and how did you move this forward into something like create an actual product?

Courtney Stewart: I actually had always, when we thought about line extensions and what’s next with Nomi & Sibs my previous business, the labels, we thought, okay, we have the option to go into this personalization route or, we have a sustainable label. Maybe we can go on the sustainable products route. So this is always been in, circling in the back of my head. I think I was so deep and swallowed in the production of the labels and the complexity of the production of the product that I didn’t have the time to really think it through and to come up with a really good plan. When your back’s against the wall and things are really going badly, you’re forced to do that very quickly. But so I think the sustainable products was always in my, in the wheelhouse where it was working, but I wanted to add that personalization at that personalized touch to it. That was going to be our kind of point of differentiation. And then I we found other ways to do that because I knew personalization was not the avenue I wanted to go in anymore. So, it was something that I had been thinking about.

I felt like the changes we wanted to make to current products that were out there were enough. And I think hit the pain points that that customers were experiencing. It was something I was looking for. And so it felt really natural. I think my audience I think we had a mix of, modern moms wanting different types of products, but we also had moms who were a little bit more cautious about their spend and conscious and in terms of sustainable and reusable products. So. There was a good fit for our current audience. So it pivoted an idea that had already existed. But I felt like we needed a, more of a change. I wanted to change the name. I wanted to do some other things too. And change the, really the whole mission behind the brand and make it more of like a mission driven brand. And, and that’s the goal?

Jennifer Myers Chua: In terms of retail too. I think if anyone is listening to this with the idea of starting a brand, that’s based on personalization. That’s really difficult. If you want to then sell in retail stores, like you can think of those key chains at any tourist shop with names on it. My name is very easy to find. But anyone with a more unique name? He doesn’t have that option. And a retailer is not going to want to purchase something with a name that is maybe. Sold once every two years like it’s just not good business so personalization in terms of retail can be really really challenging

Courtney Stewart: It’s very hard, and we tried to go down that that avenue so many hours and months, like, planning some kind of retail strategy with hopes to get them as a, DTC compete customer in the end, but a lot of complexities and ordering and getting names and all that stuff at the retail level.

It, it was just at the end of the day, it was a business that presented a lot of challenges throughout the entire process. If somebody came to me and said, I’ve had people ask actually very disappointed that we stopped with the labels and say to me, I’ll do it. I’ll do it. Don’t worry. That’s amazing. But at the same time I’m thinking and myself, you just have no idea. And I think also too, because that wasn’t an area where I was an expert in and being a mom of two little kids and in the situation I’m in with you, my husband, and he’s got very long hours of work.

He puts in every single day, not having much help there. I didn’t have the time to be going and learning new skillsets. I knew I already brought skillsets that I could contribute to a business and, learning those other things about printers and graphics and all that stuff. It wasn’t right for me at the time. I felt very strongly about stopping, but if you’re a creator and you could see yourself on Etsy, and if that’s what you’re passionate about, I would not say don’t do it. I would just say, think it through in terms of scaling and what you want long term because it’s challenging personalization definitely is challenging.

Jennifer Myers Chua: I’ve been following your business for years, your first business. And another thing that you ran into that I’m assuming was a huge challenge. And I have seen this so many times with other small businesses. Is that at some point a larger Canadian company put out a product that was remarkably similar to yours. Like almost indistinguishable. And. I know that must’ve been a big challenge. And it’s something that small business owners face a lot. I was wondering if you were willing to comment on that situation. And did it have any impact on the decision to pivot into a new business?

Courtney Stewart: It definitely did not have an impact to pivot. I think if anything I felt like we got a lot of really great support from customers. Like people who hadn’t even bought the product, our product before just wanting to support. Cause they were, it was relatable in terms of, a mother just trying to, start something new or, make a living sort of thing. And so I felt people felt They want to support that about good for them to do so. So I think if anything, it fueled it helped us. It definitely, for me that owner at that business, she was a mom she’s led a lot of kids. And I know in the early days of that business, it was a hard struggle and, to see that being done it rubbed me the wrong way as an entrepreneur. And as in the position I was in, but at the same time, that’s business, it’s, it sucks. And I was mad. I was angry. And I think you maybe could have done something differently, but I think that in, in hindsight it’s business and I don’t think it’s a big part of their business. I might be wrong, but I don’t think so. But. Those are the things that you’re going to have to face, and I’ll have to face this with this product as well. Cause there are other international brands or us based brands that are doing similar things. I hope that I’m doing it a little bit differently.

Our message and our mission and the community we want to create is a little bit more unique. And so that will help us stand out. But, there are bigger brands with bigger, deeper pockets that can come in and, they can make their way. So those are the things that we’re always going to have to deal with. If anything, I think that situation prepared me for probably what’s to come and they will never stop coming. But as an entrepreneur, it didn’t make me want to give up. It made me want to show that we can move past this and you can get past this. So any, aspiring entrepreneur, anybody who’s been presented with challenges of people within a region or a community or something, doing something similar, find a way to be different and continue setting yourself apart as a business. And, you can get through it.

Jennifer Myers Chua: Another thing that surprised me about that situation was that generally in terms of the Canadian entrepreneur community, specifically the woman entrepreneurs. They’re very supportive and very mindful. Of collaboration. I remember that with Nomi and sieves, you did a partnership with Nicks and some Canadian influencers. And I’m wondering how that came to be and is there anything that you learned from that experience that’s going to help you building your new business?

Courtney Stewart: Absolutely. So, yes, that was a collaboration with Knix and the Bird’s papaya. And Tisch jewelry was also part of it. Actually, Sarah, we in the atilier gift bag and she was a speaker, so she received our product. And then she did a unsolicited, shout out thanking us for that gift. Cause they were personalized. They had her children’s names on the labels and whatnot. And so she did that and we saw a huge lift that was wonderful. And then organically, we would keep in touch, I would engage with her and since social media and, Like she was really making a place in the last year. When things were happening with the black lives matter movement, and if you follow Sarah Landry, I feel like she’s a, when I know better, I want to do better kind of person she’s, she’s trying, sometimes too much to be something for everybody, but she’s very inclusive. I feel like her heart is there. You see her growth over the last couple of years, so it happened organically with us kind of chatting during those times. And then when I got the email from Knix it was at a time where, it was a low point in terms of, what was I going to do? We are having so many issues with production and everything. And so, Maintain your relationships as much as you can. I know it’s difficult, but networking is very important. And even maintaining connections and contact, you never know how those things are gonna, help you and uplift you in your business and in life, in the future. And so I think that’s a huge learning. I think going through the collaboration process was really great too. Working back and in, in communication with that corporate environment that I had been out of for so long and seeing how that works and I think it’s totally changed as well. But it was a great experience.

I hadn’t totally made the decision that at the end of that year, we’re gonna be wrapping up the labels. But I feel like looking back, it was a really nice exit from that, from that business. We wrapped up a couple months later and it was a great send off. We had our best year in terms of sales and, so our exposure was up there. We got shout outs from other top influencers. It was a gift, a little gift send off of Nomi and sibs.

Jennifer Myers Chua: So when you went to develop your new product line, can you talk to me a little bit about finding a manufacturer or what kind of materials you chose? I’d love to explore how you made those decisions.

Courtney Stewart: In looking at developing these products for the past, year and a half we had already been in conversations with partner manufacturers that we’ve worked with at the labels who are using premium, either FDA approved or the LFG B approved tested materials as far as our silicone products are concerned. And so they had connections with with other manufacturer on the stainless side that kind of helped linked, linked us together, and they were able to even work together. And so that was definitely beneficial because going through that manufacturing hunt surgery per manufacturer is very difficult because. The way that, they may come off and they may perceive to be can be very different from, what is actually going on. And it was a hard time to do this because we couldn’t go over there and we do manufacture in China. So we can’t go over there. We can’t travel. So we really put our trust in our silicone label manufacturers to help lead us in that direction and work with that new manufacturer to create the lunchbox.

we developed a really good relationship with our label manufacturer over the last few years and felt confident in that. We could trust them and we’ve been very happy, very lucky now all situations work out that way. But but at some point you kinda, you gotta have some trust.

Jennifer Myers Chua: I took a look at your website in the product descriptions of the new lunch boxes, which are made of stainless steel. And some of your new messaging and it’s very much focused on non-toxic rather than being focused on those terms that we’re seeing now all the time, like BPA free, that if you’ve been listening to this podcast, you know, generally don’t mean much because everyone’s just slapping that on a label now these days, whether it’s true or not. About that messaging. Are there any insights into how you’re communicating the safety and health benefits of your products?

Courtney Stewart: It kills me when people say BPA free and it’s been, and now it’s used as a marketing, a marketing thing. So parents are proceeded to think that, oh, it’s BPA free. And that’s the headline it’s BPA free, unfortunately, and it’s not the parents’ fault or anybody else’s, but that’s one of hundreds of toxins or chemicals that are used in these products. And so to eliminate that great, that’s the one that they’ve taken out, but there are still others and in plastics. And even honestly, there are different grades of stainless as well. And so we are using a 3 0 4 grade stainless steel, which is a premium approved for food contact level, stainless steel, and it’s different from what you would find, at a, $1 store, $2 store, something like that. That’s a different kind of stainless steel. It’s not the same. People don’t, they don’t see that. They see a product that kind of looks similar. A stainless steel water bottle, you get the dollar. So it was very different than when they buy from a brand. That has put the research in and put the education, then the testing, and gone through those steps to ensure that they’re offering a high quality, healthy, safe product into the marketplace. And so, that’s something that’s really important to me if I’m not going to use it in my own family, if I’m not willing to expose my own children to it, I would never, introduce it to the marketplace. I’m very strict with what we bring into our house. So, it was important if there was a best, we were gonna bring it into this product and this whole line really

Jennifer Myers Chua: It’s such a challenge for us as consumers, as people who are trying to make better choices when it comes to. Things like that, the things that may be toxic and that inconsistent labeling is part of the challenge. A couple episodes back. We met with Emma Rohmann who’s a toxic expert. And she talked about how substitutions are happening. So if there’s a regulation and they take something out like BPA they’re removing BPA, they’re replacing it with something else. That they have waiting. That may just be just as dangerous, but it’s currently not something that we’re immediately aware of and maybe it’s something that’s not currently illegal or whatnot. It’s a real challenge and i appreciate that you’re going for the broad stroke of non-toxic and you’re actually doing all you can to make sure that is true. i appreciate that

Courtney Stewart: I feel like. That’s the way that BPA free has been thrown around on packaging and labels. It’s actually very sad. It’s very disappointing. We don’t put BPA free. I think there’s an assumption. We’re saying no toxins right? Here, platinum. The highest levels of, pure silicone, no fillers, no additives, none of that stuff. And I think that BPA free thing is thrown around to it’s that extra. Oh, okay. It’s an extra kind of notch of approval that a parent will take in and feel like they they’re confident and, in, in that product and in some ways they are, in some ways it’s wonderful, like, and it works out there.

It’s BPA free, which is great. It’s also, it doesn’t have other toxins, but in a lot of cases, you’re right. It’s just the BPA that they pulled out and they’ve said student was something else. And so something cheaper, another filler and whatnot. And it it’s, I feel like it’s, it’s unfair to parents in the marketplace because goodness, we have so many things that we’re trying to do well.

And, trying to raise these good humans and we’re putting our faith and, to these labels and packaging and things like that and want to be able to trust. And, a lot of the times we’re getting duped by these brands and manufacturers. Unfortunately,

Jennifer Myers Chua: Have you come across anything in your research about the environmental impact of our lunch packing habits? I guess we’re not even a brown paper bag, lunch culture anymore. We’re more like a Ziploc bag or a sandwich bag. Did you find anything surprising?

Courtney Stewart: I can’t even think of it, but it’s something like like 30 million lunch bags, like Ziploc bags are used in a year or something. It’s more than that because it would be more than that, I’ve got to find the number, but the amount of plastic single use Ziploc type bags that are used and then thrown out in the impact that has is staggering is absolutely staggering. So when you think of that, in terms of all the different things that you put in a lunch I find that when you have something like a. A lunchbox that has, different sections, maybe as a parent, instead of buying the yogurt in, 30 individual containers, maybe we just buy the one container and you scoop it from there.

So even making a simple swap like that, it’s impactful. Imagine everybody doing that, getting that bulk tub. And so instead of sending those single ones all the time, I really want to get through to people that it doesn’t have to be these huge shifts in your life. It can just be, one little thing that when you think about it, in terms of everybody doing one little thing, the impact is ginormous. And so, the numbers on even the single. Plastic bags and things like that. It’s staggering. Staggering. It makes you, you definitely think twice we put things in the garbage and filling up that garbage every week. Yeah, it’s staggering.

Jennifer Myers Chua: One of my favorite questions to ask founders about looking back at this moment that you’re in right now. I love to ask. If there was a moment. Where you said, Hey, people are responding to this. I know this is going to happen. Have you hit that moment yet?

Courtney Stewart: We sent off the labels with a bang, I felt really good. I felt confident about whatever I decide to do. I did feel really confident. And as much as I believe like this is going to work, I think the goals that I’ve set and the things that I want to do and, the impact I want to make it has to work, it has to work, but I’m not going to lie Jenn. Like there are days where, as an entrepreneur, like the highs are so high and literally the lows are garbage, low. Like they are landfill garbage, low. That’s very hard. And trying to navigate those ups and downs, while trying to be everything in your business, to everyone who needs you in your business and outside of your business and, in your personal life, it’s hard. So, I don’t have doubts that this is going to be great. I think, yeah. It’s getting there and staying in a clear mental state because the roller coaster of entrepreneurship, it can, it gives you turns and twists and you gotta be able to keep it straight, navigate them and keep it straight. So, I think if there’s heart and there’s passion and great products, it might take time, but it will succeed.

I think I I’m used to hard work in terms of growing up and a family filled with athletes and very successful. My, all my siblings are very successful. As an athletic scholarship. I did, I did my power, in, in that way I have this kind of be the best at whatever you’re going to be attitude. So I think the biggest surprise. So yes, working hard and being seasoned for something like this because I’ve been in training mode my whole life. But there’s nothing more, and I don’t know if it was necessarily a surprise but a shocker, in terms of. The commitment that entrepreneurship and having your own business and maybe it was the timing of it along with my tabbing, small kids, the sacrifice, the things that you’re going to have to miss. I think people glamorize entrepreneurship in terms of you run your own business and you come and go, as you want. And it’s great. You show up, half day Friday. and sure you could do that. But the reality of it is that, you’re in your business, in the early days, it’s all the time. Especially as an online e-commerce brand, people are expecting you to get back to them immediately.

And so I think a big shocker was, although I was, trained my whole life to be a very hard worker and to work, tirelessly. This entrepreneurial journey is exhausting. It is, and it will, it tests, it tests you it tests everybody, it tests your whole family, everybody in my family is impacted by it. And so it’s hard. It’s hard. It’s, it’s definitely it harder than I would have even imagined, but, it will push you. It will grow you, it will challenge you in ways that you never thought possible. And for me, I think it’s made me a better person and made me a better parent in a lot of ways. I don’t always think that in the moment, but yeah, the amount of work and time and commitment and the sacrifice and all the things that you miss out on, even your family and, that’s been a big shocker. Very hard.

Jennifer Myers Chua: Do you have any other ways that you’re planning to use this business to support any other kind of change?

Courtney Stewart: We haven’t actually announced this, but we are working on some kind of certification supporting other organizations and we have a few already in in the works, but the goal is going to be like 5% of our proceeds are all going to go to other things, the B certification that ocean movements there’s a few things that are high priorities. And then a couple that we’re determining, what’s the best fit, but definitely want the benefits that we reap in the business in terms of sales and profits, to be able to share that with other organizations that are also trying to do the right thing and other groups and young minority aspiring entrepreneur, things like that, that, it again, that it feels really good to give back when you can. It’s going to be something that that we’ll announce, hopefully by the end of the year, once those things are confirmed, but it’s a must in the business for sure. To be able to give back, especially to groups that are trying to inspire change as well.

Jennifer Myers Chua: And what about other black owned businesses? BIPOC creators. Do you feel that there’s been a shift in the marketplace? Like, do you feel that people are using their dollars to support maybe businesses owned by marginalized people or anything like that. I’m wondering if you have anything to comment about that shift and if you see anything changing?

Courtney Stewart:  I definitely think that there is a shift, of all the kind of ugly that’s come out of a lot of things recently. I think that there’s also some good and there’s been openings and some big organizations have stepped up in big ways, to help support BIPOC minority, underserved groups, and entrepreneurship. There’s definitely been a shift and I think consumers are more educated now than ever to kind of search around, search around for options. And, I think people are dedicated to supporting small businesses, supporting local businesses and, That includes, BIPOC owned businesses. I think people deeply care, I really do. You have to feel, you have to think that you have to believe, and I think people want to see good. They want to see change. And in order to see change, you’ve got to support different types of businesses operated by different minorities and, LGBT Black community Brown community, Chinese, everything, all those businesses are just as important. But it’s also finding a way to bring light and expose these businesses in terms of, making them more visible. Yeah, I do see a change. I see a change. I think it’s going to be a slow shift, but I do see a change and I hope that only continues.

Jennifer Myers Chua: So if you’re interested in conscious consumerism and you’ve gotten to this place. What’s a resource that you would recommend to someone who’s starting to explore this? Explore making different choices. Where should they start?

Courtney Stewart: There is a blog called zero waste Canada, I believe . I learned so much from, she has this blog, she has so much education, so much knowledge on her blog and even on her Instagram. People know at the end of the day, when they’re putting that water bottle in the garbage, that it’s not where it should be going, but she shares also the other side of it and the impact and and breaks it down from the impact to also, the impact it has on you and your health and, the toxins. So just a wealth of knowledge. She is somebody who has definitely devoted her life to, living this way and deaf amplifies conscious brands. And so I definitely think that is a great place to start. And then from there, it’ll just spiral because everybody’s following her and everybody who has, those goals in mind for their business or for themselves personally, they’re watching what she’s doing and listening to what she’s saying.

Jennifer Myers Chua: There are people like you and I who are looking to make a difference in our own homes. And then also looking to make a difference in the communities and people are supporting your products. They’re purchasing those, and you’ve seen more support coming for BIPOC creators and women owned businesses. So I’d just like to know with all of that in mind how hopeful are you for the future?

Courtney Stewart: I’m very hopeful for the future. I see. Great things coming. I believe in myself, I believe in people wanting to be better, to do better, to shop better, to support businesses that are trying to do the right thing. you can only want people around you to, other citizens to want, the good for everybody. And so that involves, being a conscious consumer, not overbuying buying, when you need, I even say with our. When you’re in the market for don’t just go buy it. Cause you, you don’t, cause you want it when you’re in the market for, because listen, there’s another box that, has been working for you or, if it’s not then sure if you want to replace it, but that’s just going to end up in the landfill too. And that’s what we don’t want either. I believe, I believe people want to do better. They want to be better. They want to be The Good Kiind.

I’m very passionate. So when I care about something a lot, I come off very pushy, I guess you can call it, very, but it’s just, it’s just coming from a place of just really caring and wanting someone to feel it like, feel the way I feel it. I don’t want to come across and that I’m not perfect even in our home, I’m not, I’ve got work to do. But I wanna, go along this journey with our customers and our community, because it is a journey. It’s not something that you flip the switch and it happens. Small changes can make a big impact.

I think it’s since having kids and, all the toys and the, the unnecessary, packaging and the toys that literally just end up in the garbage it’s painful, it is painful to me. And it really bothers me. I just really tried to limit those things but the amount of mindless consumerism, that’s happening. Then I say mindless. I mean, people are just buying, buying, buying don’t need, like, if you stop and ask yourself, Is it good for me? Is it good for the planet? And do I need this? Do I need this? If you would put down probably 75% of the things that you pick up. So, I wish people would and you would save so much money. You would save so much money. So, I’m hoping that we can help people shift in that direction a little bit by a little bit less use what you have and make the best of it. I’ll tell you one thing. With our manufacturer, our lunch pails, when they’re open in the box, they were supposed to be sleeved with like a, with a paper sleeve and they didn’t, they did it with a plastic sleeve, it was so painful bothered me and it still bothers me, but it doesn’t make sense to go reproduce something else to put it in it and to make all those changes.

But that, and obviously the footprint of something like that is far less, however, it’s something that when you think of it, in terms of McDonald’s and these big brands producing hundreds of thousands weekly, probably, it really adds up. So we’re not perfect either, and we’re trying to do this right. We stumble on the way to, and that, and it was, a miss at the quality control level at our manufacturer. And so, small steps, small steps do better next time.

If you want to learn more about Courtney and her endlessly reusable, mealtime essentials for families on the go visit thegoodkiind.com [kind with two ii] looking for litter proof lunch solutions for back to school, they are available to order now. You can follow along with Courtney on her mission to help you sustainably and mindfully tackle life with littles. On Facebook at thegoodkiind or Instagram at @bethegoodkiind


NEW Episodes

Every Second Tuesday


Everywhere you get your podcasts.

You can find and follow Cost of Goods Sold on all of the major networks.