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Behind the B! Koskela
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I'm reading
Behind the B! Koskela
Pass it on
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I'm reading
Behind the B! Koskela
Pass it on
Pass it on
Partners
18 March 2022

Behind the B! Koskela

We go behind the B with Koskela co-founder and CEO, Sasha Titchkosky

Behind extraordinary ideas, there are extraordinary people. Dumbo Feather is a magazine about these people.

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It’s one thing to say your business is sustainable. It’s another thing entirely to fling open your doors and allow a third party to move through the place with a fine-tooth comb (so to speak). This is what makes B Corp businesses different, and it’s what we have in common: a willingness to make ourselves accountable and, in the process, vulnerable.

Since the beginning, this kind of transparency has been one of our main values at Koskela.

From the outside, Koskela is simply a boutique Sydney-based furniture and homewares business. We supply items like tables, lighting and rugs to workplaces, educational institutions and homes. Yet our focus isn’t on selling homewares: instead, our mission combines the twin aims of social impact and creating a production model that’s genuinely sustainable.

For as long as Koskela has existed — 22 years now — we have been committed to manufacturing all of our products in Australia. We work exclusively with local makers, which helps nurture the local economy, ensure ethical working conditions and reduce transport emissions.

Our production model also helps elevate Australian artists, and collaborating with First Nations artists has been part of Koskela for a long time. Our beloved and ongoing range of pendant lights, for example, are handwoven by First Nations weavers from all over the country, and we are a member of Supply Nation (an organisation that connects businesses with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander suppliers). In addition to this, we funnel one per cent of Koskela’s total revenue (10 per cent of profits) into funding more of these collaborations, which support First Nations-owned Art Centres. The development and sale of these products has meant that artists and Art Centres have earned over $1 million worth of income.

As part of our investment in the environment, we also donate funds to Rainforest Rescue so that they can continue to restore, rewild and recreate wildlife corridors in the Daintree. We’ve been financially supporting Rainforest Rescue since 2009, though it’s important to us that we don’t just contribute financially. We make sure we’re engaged and across what Rainforest Rescue is doing and why it matters, and we’ve been lucky enough to join the team on the ground for activities like planting initiatives.

When it comes to making products, our approach sets us apart from other manufacturers (though it shouldn’t). All items are designed to be repairable on-site, and to be pulled apart so that singular components can be replaced if necessary. Our products also come with a 10-year warranty. Following in the footsteps of fellow B Corp Patagonia, whose philosophy is that it’s the responsibility of manufacturers to take ownership of their products for their entire life cycle, we endeavour to make things that last — and we think about where our products end up after they leave the showroom. Our model is organised around the question, How can the things we create continue serving a purpose and avoid ending up in landfill?

So far, between 80 and 85 per cent of the Koskela range is certified “environmentally innovative” by independent arbiter Good Environmental Choice Australia (GECA).

We became a B Corp organisation five years ago. The B Corp accreditation further safeguards against greenwashing, folds us into a community of likeminded businesses and, since businesses must re-quality every three years, ensures we’re continuously learning and improving. Where most businesses are chiefly committed to increasing their profit margins, B Corp businesses are committed to purpose and evolution. At the moment, we’re working towards a more circular production model and on finding solutions for our most environmentally problematic materials (foam and steel).

In a world where “business as usual” often means extraction and exploitation, organisations that offer themselves up for independent scrutiny are the unusual ones. Embarking on the B Corp journey can feel overwhelming, but we wholeheartedly recommend it: the process constantly pushes your business to be better and do better. Plus, the bigger the community gets, the more powerful it is. The planet needs more unusual businesses.

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