Why Two Norwegian Entrepreneurs Put $1.5 Million Towards Slow Travel In Fjord Country

 

Set in Norway’s majestic fjord country, Flam is a town about 230 inhabitants. Yet in one year it will see about half a million visitors and nearly 200 cruise ships — ships so big they drown out the few small hotels situated on the waterfront. At the base of a UNESCO World Heritage site, Flam and its nearby residents are concerned about the number of tourists descending on the small, picturesque village.

Last year, Fjord Norway, the tourism office for the region, told the Telegraph that they were encouraging hotels to increase rates in the summer months, hoping that would push tourists to come in the off season.  What’s causing the increased interest?  Namely two factors: Disney’s animated film Frozen, which showcased Norway’s beauty and culture, and social media, particularly Instagram, where pictures of the stunning scenery are drawing thousands of ‘likes.’

Two Norwegians, however, have taken it upon themselves to offer tourists a different kind of experience in the fjords — one that builds on Norway’s love for slow TV, slow food, and all things Sakte (Norwegian for slow).  But will the rest of the world catch on as well?

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“We want to be a sustainable alternative to cruise tourism,” Tone Ronning says. “It’s a contradiction. Once you become a World Heritage site, you get more crowds, and it becomes a lost paradise. We don’t want that to happen here.”

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How This Company Raised $10 Million For The Environment On Black Friday

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Photo: Steve Ogle/ Patagonia

As Black Friday online sales topped $3 billion, one retailer decided to use all that excitement to buy as a way to make consumers aware of the environmental challenges ahead of us.

Patagonia announced last week that they would donate all of their sales from Black Friday to a cohort of environmental organizations — responding to the recent election and a president elect who doesn’t believe in climate change. Rose Marcario, CEO of Patagonia, estimated that they would have $2 million in sales. Instead, they fetched $10 million. “The response was beyond expectations,” she said. “We heard from many of our customers calling it a ‘fundraiser for the earth.’”

Read the full story at Forbes.com

 

Holiday Gift Guide That Goes Beyond Deals: 15 Brands That Leave A Long-Term, Social Impact

Black Friday means long lines, parking nightmares, and sub-par deals. Yet a new crop of entrepreneurs, more suited for Small Business Saturday than the insanity of Black Friday, are offering more than just deals.  Here’s a holiday gift guide that doesn’t require a trip to mall and supports a new kind of economy — driven by equity and empathy as well as profit.

See the full list at Forbes.com.

Why Ratan Tata Is Backing This New Brand That Fuses Tech And Tea Estates

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Kaushal Dugar left an office job to modernize a stagnant, colonial era industry. Tea growing regions in eastern India have conducted business in the same way for the last 200 years. While there are notable premium tea brands, such as Twinings, there isn’t a single Indian one. Dugar raised $6 million to change that.

His startup Teabox combines technology with tea to create India’s first global premium tea brand. Much like other subscription box enterprises, Dugar developed a monthly service that caters to a customer’s palate. Each month, customers are sent an assortment of teas. They provide feedback after each box. And after the first three boxes, the company has developed an understanding of what their customer prefers.

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“We use technology and algorithms in a smart way to solve the discovery journey,” he says from his Siliguri headquarters.  The online storefront sells over 250 varieties of teas — all sourced from different regions of India, several offered in organic varieties.

Read the full story at Forbes.com.

YouTuber Niomi Smart Builds An Online Career And A Startup On Wellness and Conscious Living

This YouTuber has amassed 1.6 million subscribers by building a lifestyle that’s balanced, empathetic, and wellness-driven. On a platform that sells quantity over quality, Niomi Smart’s unique brand is as much about giving back as it is about herself.

This month, she released her first book, Eat Smart, a guide to eating well and being fit. Within minutes of the announcement, the book climbed the ranks, becoming #1 on Amazon. (Though it’s only available in the UK and select countries currently).

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Photo Courtesy of Harper Collins UK.

The 24-year-old Brighton-born author tests natural beauty products, shares healthful recipes, runs for charity, and endorses causes on her YouTube channel.  Her most recent video highlighted StandUp Cancer, a UK-based charity, working on cancer research and prevention.  More than just a photo op, Smart’s involvement is seemingly genuine and stems from life experience.  When a friend passed away from skin cancer, Smart was shocked and saddened; she transformed her routine, plunging into a plant-based lifestyle and putting her health first after a few indulgent years at university, snacking on cakes and biscuits.
Read the full story at Forbes.com.

How One Self-Funded Home Decor Brand Is Challenging Big Box Retailers With Their Supply Chain

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Last month, Target decided to pull all the bedsheets, manufactured by one supplier in India, Welspun Inc. Could this be the beginning of a transparency revolution at big box retailers?

“I’m surprised that Target was surprised about their bedsheets not being Egyptian cotton,” says Scott Tannen, CEO and co-founder of Boll and Branch, an organic cotton home essentials brand. “There isn’t enough Egyptian cotton being produced for global demand and that’s pretty well known in the industry.”

Egyptian cotton, once highly-regarded for their long fibers, is rarely produced in Egypt any more.  According to the US Department of Agriculture, less than 1% of the world’s cotton supply comes directly from Egypt. It’s largely marketing, says Tannen, when companies tout their bedsheets as the highest-quality Egyptian cotton. “It sounds nicer to think of it as cotton, growing in small farms on the banks of the river Nile. In reality, it’s a company-owned 4,000 acre farm in China.”

Turns out, Target wasn’t the only one in the dark. Walmart and Bed, Bath, & Beyond also sourced their “Egyptian cotton” sheets from Welspun India. Both retailers are now questioning, and rethinking, their business with the manufacturer. For Welspun, which reportedly brought in nearly $1 billion sales from American retailers last year, this is could be crippling for the business.

Read the full story at Forbes.com

Why Hemp Is Still Controversial In America And A Challenge For Entrepreneurs

When this entrepreneur quit his day job to sell hemp products online, he ran into trouble with Facebook, Shopify, and more.

Why?

Hemp, though not marijuana, is often associated with it. While it originates from the same plant, cannabis sativa, hemp does not have significant levels of THC, the ingredient that gives you a high. In fact, hemp has less than .3% of THC; marijuana has anywhere from 10 to 30%.

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Yet, the plant is nutrient-rich, contributes to the health of the soil, and grows in drought climates well.  The fibers of hemp have been used for centuries to produce weaves, suitable for clothing or home decor items. Elements of hemp are healthy for the body as well, making it a popular health food and an essential ingredient in soaps and lotions.

Despite its eco-friendly nature, hemp is still not allowed for widespread cultivation in the US; rather only small-scale pilots are allowed in a few states around the country.

Gunhee Park founded Ministry of Hemp, an online marketplace of hemp brands, using his own funds, to promote hemp-based products products such as clothes toiletries and food. “Our vision is to popularize this plant and its applications among the mainstream,” he says.

Read the story at Forbes.com