Raven Botanicals was one of the first beauty brands to help the Ukraine appeal. First, they donated 100% of sales on one day to United Help Ukraine and Razom for Ukraine. Now, the brand has pledged to donate 50% of all sales for the rest of March.
We caught up with Arabella Harvey, founder and owner, to find out more about their response.
1. Can you tell me about Raven Botanicals, who you are, your products and your business?
Raven Botanicals is a results-driven natural beauty brand founded by my sister and I in 2020. We make intelligent skincare formulations that improve skin health using a combination of UK-grown and ethically sourced worldwide plant-extracts.
Our business began at the kitchen table but we’re presently moving from in-house facilities to a dedicated production unit in East Lothian. We sell primarily direct-to-consumer through our own website and have a growing business-to-business strand of sales.
2. Corporate purpose is something we hear about all the time - is this something that you have a defined strategy for?
We operate our business in a way that reflects our personal values of fairness, kindness and our passion for cooperative working. Profit is essential in enabling us to grow but we’re also keenly aware of our social responsibility and of creating a business that people actively want to engage with.
3. As an organisation have you directly responded to humanitarian or any other appeals before?
We haven’t responded to a humanitarian appeal in this way before but we already give regularly to Women’s Aid and we’ll continue to do that. Our business isn’t just financially driven. We’re committed to helping people feel good about themselves and recognise that personal care is a vital component in strengthening self-confidence and self-worth.
4. What made you want to do something for the Ukraine crisis?
We could see that immediate help was needed outside of political structures. As a small business we can react quickly. There’s a limit to what we can do on our own, but as part of a groundswell of immediate action from small businesses to large corporations throughout the world, we can help make a difference.
5. What was the decision making process on the way you chose to help?
It was a very swift process! We decided quickly that a monetary donation would be better than products and we gave 100% of a full day’s sales in late February to start with. We saw such a great response that we convened again and decided to continue our fundraising by donating 50% of sales for the whole of March. We’ve been donating once a week since then, so there’s no delay in sending funds where they are needed most.
6. Did you consider other options and how did you decide on action?
Yes. We thought about getting involved in collecting goods or donating products, but we could see there were possible issues with transport, management and dispersal of physical goods, so we decided cash was best. We also thought that raising funds through sales was a great way of encouraging people to donate indirectly – our buyers get their products as usual, but they also get the satisfaction of knowing they’ve supported a substantial donation.
7. Is this something your employees felt strongly about and had input to?
We’re a small team and our values are closely aligned. We felt strongly about doing what we could.
8. What is the impact on your business and profits?
We won’t make a profit in the month of March, but we can sustain this because we’ve been profitable over the year. Giving has also paid us back in other ways. We’ve seen an uplift in sales as well as a lot of new customer engagement. That has been an unexpected bonus for us. We’ve also had some positive press and wider signposting to our appeal which has helped us raise more than we anticipated we would!
9. How is it going?
It’s going well. We are donating over 5% of our annual turnover which is amazing! We have a brilliant community of like minded buyers and followers around us and we’re so grateful to them for enabling us to do this.
10. Do you have any consumer insight on how it has affected purchasing decisions?
We haven’t analysed our data for March or polled buyers in relation to our fundraising yet, but we interact closely with our followers, and we know that people have brought forward purchasing dates or chosen to buy from us for the first time because of our charitable giving.
11. Has it affected purpose plans for the future?
Yes, without a doubt. We’re proud of what we’ve been able to achieve by acting quickly and decisively this month to support people in immediate need and we’ve seen that our community of buyers respond to that in a positive way. We’ve seen the feel-good factor in action this month and it’s been inspirational.
We’re now looking at other ways we can embed our personal values within the business at every level going forward, including the potential for a business model that gives employees stakeholder opportunities. Ultimately our business is about empowering people, and this experience has given us confidence in our instinct to be generous with what we have.