Ladderworks is a publishing platform of diverse picture books and online curriculum with the mission to empower over a million kids to become social entrepreneurs. Our current series features interviews by our interplanetary journalist Spiffy with inspiring Social Entrepreneurs and Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Builders, who are advancing the UN SDGs.
Hey, friends! It's Spiffy, back again on Planet Earth with an eye on entrepreneurs making the world a more equitable place! I have a great interview for you today. I’m excited to cruise around with Briana Hart, the founder and CEO of buyVerde, Inc. Are you ready to be inspired?
Spiffy: Thanks for joining me, Briana! Tell me, what challenge are you addressing through your startup?
Briana: Glad to be with you, Spiffy! Each of us has our own personal set of values, and those values may shift over time. There should be a way for individuals to express their own values in terms of the things they buy. If we are conscious about our consumption, our choices can have a tangible impact on the greater good. We’re focused on more than just the environment: we are promoting diversity, fair trade, ethical product practices, clean ingredients, and companies that donate to nonprofits.
Spiffy: That is awesome! What motivated you to tackle this challenge?
Briana: I believe in bringing my vision for buyVerde to reality because I believe in building a platform to support conscious consumerism for everyday purchases. This is my North Star and driving force when things get tough. I will admit that starting a business inside of a company, which I've done before, is not the same as starting a company. The skills may be similar, but the stresses and demands on your time and your attention are far greater when you are risking your own reputation and capital—and your friends’ capital. So, you can't be in this to be a unicorn—you have to believe that what you're doing will make an impact and change the world.
Spiffy: How are you and your team working towards a more equitable world?
Briana: If you choose to buy from a small business, studies show that the benefits include net new job creation and the reduction of inequality. Each of us makes an impact, and we have the power to make change. We are making shopping-your-values accessible to everyone, including every personalized value set and every budget level.
Spiffy: Tell me about a recent organizational milestone or initiative. What impact does that make on your audience?
Briana: We are excited to announce that we just were approved as the very first social impact sales channel on Shopify! There are only 24 sales channels, and we are in the good company of Google, Facebook, Pinterest, etc. For you as a shopper, this means you can easily find stores that are NOT on Amazon and based on their values. For small businesses, this means we seamlessly integrate into their business, and it's easy to connect.
Spiffy: Please share an experience when you faced failure and didn't give up. What did you learn from it?
Briana: Positive mindsets and hard work create positive outcomes, even if it's not the one you were first imagining as "success." I've faced many difficulties and "failures" during my career. The most important skill I learned was how to step back, read a situation, and evaluate whether it’s time to make a change. The lesson behind this was a harder one for me to embrace: sometimes it doesn’t matter how much work you put in or how smart you are. If the opportunity isn’t there, you have to pivot.
Spiffy: Is there anything else you would love to tell our audience?
Briana: As you go through school, your career, and life changes, it is critical to gather opinions from different individuals and stakeholders. The goal is to help inform decision-making by drawing from the diverse experiences and backgrounds of others. You're not going through this alone or in a box; people are happy to have a coffee with you and be asked for advice. That's your "network." This same philosophy drives my selection of buyVerde employees and advisers and also informs our strategic direction.
Spiffy: Thanks for speaking with me today, Briana—it’s been an honor!
Briana Hart is a former Wall Street executive (BlackRock, Morgan Stanley) who has led global teams and advised executives on credit portfolios. She is the founder and CEO of buyVerde, Inc. She lives in Connecticut with her husband and three boys. (First published on the Ladderworks website on December 5, 2022.)
© 2022 Ladderworks LLC. Edited by George Romar. Spiffy’s illustration by Shreyas Navare. For the Ladderworks digital curriculum to help K-3 kids advance the UN SDGs, visit Spiffy's Launchpad: Creative Entrepreneurship Workshops for K-3 Kids and their caregivers here.