In January of this year, Manitoulin resident Vanessa Glasby introduced the Good Stuff Box as an affordable, Canadian alternative to sustainable commerce.
The Good Stuff Box is a subscription service which delivers uniform packages to its customers four times a year, containing health and lifestyle products manufactured by companies Glasby deems to be doing "good things." The broad criteria can include companies with a high percentage of Canadian employees, sustainable production practices or a large number of charity partners.
The project was inspired by Glasby's mother, who purchased an American-based subscription box for Glasby a few years ago as a Christmas present. Glasby found that while she loved the eco-friendly, sustainable products, the value wasn't there if you factored in the exchange rate, return policy and any problems you may have shipping the package across the border.
Glasby chose to cancel the service after a year, which was when she said her mom asked why the young graduate did not create her own Canadian alternative.
"I hummed and hawed and worked a few different jobs for a while, then decided I was just going to do it," said Glasby.
Glasby applied for Starter Company Plus through the Sudbury Regional Business Centre, where active or aspiring entrepreneurs engage in a six-month training program in business management, for the chance to earn a grant up to $5,000. Although Glasby said she did not expect to be accepted into the program, she was, and to her disbelief earned a grant for $5,000 to be used towards equipment, tools, training, marketing, leasehold improvements and one-time supplies.
"It all pushed me in the right direction, the universe was telling me where to go," said Glasby.
In researching sustainable brands, Glasby said companies had a lot of interest in marketing their product in a bulk format similar to that she hoped to introduce. This was no real surprise to Glasby, who said she struggled to find sustainable products throughout her lifetime due to the smaller marketing budgets of many local brands.
"Through my business, I hope to give (smaller, sustainable businesses) a platform and create kind of a Canadian community network of change-makers," said Glasby, "connecting people that want this sort of product with the people who are producing it."
With a bachelor in sociology as well as a master's in philanthropy and non-profit leadership, Glasby is no stranger to the sustainable market but said she much prefers this relationship to being directly employed by the non-profit sector.
"I'm doing my own thing and still giving back in my own way," said Glasby.
Glasby remains the only Good Stuff Box employee, which she said has allowed her to form much more meaningful relationships with her partners and customers, and a better understanding of potential products. She said the value of this one-on-one interaction motivated her to attend Northern Lights Festival Boreal around two weeks ago, which was the first time she had introduced the product to Sudbury's festival circuit.
"Even if I don't sell a product, just having that conversation and explaining to people the importance of socially conscious consumerism is huge, its a win in my books," said Glasby. "The desire to change is there and people are looking for alternatives."
The 'good stuff' in the Good Stuff Box starts with the packaging, which is made entirely from recycled materials and can also be returned for a refill. To reduce carbon emissions, Good Stuff box offers local pick-up options and has implemented a Carbon Offest program until they can become carbon-neutral.
When it comes to her partners, Glasby said she has tried to remain as local as possible, not only for their high-quality products but to support the community that has helped her grow.
"I think supporting others in the community only serves to make the community better, stronger and more resilient in the long run," said Glasby.
In 2019, an online site which reviews subscription boxes known as 'A Year of Boxes' hosted their first annual Canadian Subscription Box Awards, in which Good Stuff Box was named the Best Eco-Friendly Box.
The Good Stuff Box is offered in three forms; a one-time-only welcome box for the price of $54.95, a seasonal subscription ordered on a case-by-case basis at the same price, and a yearly subscription delivered quarterly for $199. Each box is valued at around $70.
Find more information on the Good Stuff Box and how to order your first shipment, here.