06 Aug Changemaker Spotlight: Jessica Korthuis + SOHUIS
“I absolutely know to the fiber of my core that if a company isn’t following the business, purpose, giving back model, they will struggle, and they will fall behind.”
Jessica Korthuis, SOHUIS
This month, we chat with Jessica Korthuis, founder of SOHUIS, about her experience and insight into running a business with purpose. In addition to volunteering at our annual fundraiser, Runway to Haiti, Jessica donates her time and expertise in marketing and communications to our team. Over the past three months, Jessica and our marketing team built out impactful marketing campaigns to help deepen our relationships with our supporters and donors.
Tell us a little bit more about your business and the inspiration behind your work?
Sohuis [so-house] is a digital communications and design consultancy I founded in 2016 that was initially inspired by my work as Director of Marketing for the International Business Innovation Association (InBIA). Since then, Sohuis has morphed into a unique consultancy experience that combines various innovation principles and disciplines I’ve learned over the better part of 10 years working within the marketing and communications landscape. Now, I help socially-responsible organizations create sustainable brand strategies through the Sohuis framework, an open-source communications framework that is built on timeless best practices and proven marketing methods that helps companies improve how they engage and communicate value to their customers.
From early on, I’ve always been enamoured with cause-based organizations and socially responsible companies, I just feel it makes sense to ‘do good’ for others and support sustainable initiatives that help – even in the smallest of circumstances – to push society forward in responsible ways. It was at InBIA (a nonprofit and global network of business incubators, accelerators, coworking spaces and other entrepreneurial support organizations) that I got to see first-hand the impact an organization could have with the right mission, grit and tenacity. In some ways, InBIA was the best (and worst!) thing that ever happened to me because now I don’t think I could never go back to working a basic “9-5”. Knowing the impact nonprofits and other social enterprises have on our world, and even large corporations who are forging ahead with innovate solutions in their own verticals, is astounding. I just knew I could never go back to what I was doing before. And more importantly, I knew I had value to add and could be part of these solutions on my own terms.
As an entrepreneur and business owner, what values are important for you business? How do you uphold these values?
Funny you should ask, I just updated these on my website! As an entrepreneur and female founder, I personally have found in my experiences that clear communication, astute problem solving, openness, decisiveness, and patience have been the tried and true pillars of making successful steps forward. They have never steered me wrong. These specific traits are also seen in elephants and are one of the many reasons I chose the elephant as the brand iconography for Sohuis.
In terms of Sohuis values, they are as follows:
- Customer-focused collaboration
- Culture eats strategy for breakfast
- Our collective solutions must be sustainable
- Focused on impact
- Validate, rinse, repeat
- Design matters
Coincidentally, these business values are near and dear to my heart and therefore, very easy to uphold. It’s really quite simple, when I evaluate projects/collaborations/opportunities, if the components of the project, whether it’s the team, goals and objectives, etc., do not align in a way that will not allow me to follow these values, I simply don’t take the project. This resoluteness comes from years of missteps and mistakes from taking on projects that I knew weren’t a *right* fit. I have found that staying true to these values at all times is what keeps me moving forward on the path to working with clients (like Rebuild!) that I love.
“Rebuild has created a sustainable infrastructure of training and job creation that empowers the men and women of Haiti to capitalize on their strengths, leverage the goods and materials unique to their region, while providing a platform to expand in areas that are unfamiliar.”
We believe business, purpose, and giving back are intricately linked and love to partner with people who are leading the way in this area. What are your thoughts on the growing link between business and doing good?
Based on user-engagement patterns and my experience in watching customers engage with brands across platforms, I absolutely know to the fiber of my core that if a company isn’t following the business, purpose, giving back model, they will struggle, and they will fall behind. I share this quote in a brand persona building workshop that I host and I love it:
“In an era where consumer trust has plummeted across all industries, honesty and authenticity have emerged as the attributes that matter most. Consumers, more than ever before, are holding brands to a higher standard. They are looking for more than price, quality and convenience. Sure, they want value for their money. But they also want values.” – Fortify
This is so spot on – and if your company’s values do not represent some version of this business/purpose cocktail mix, you are behind the curve. The best way to grow the link between businesses doing good is for businesses to truly understand how much this HELPS their business. You can make significant revenue and give back at the same time, and with a staggering statistic that consumers spend more than twice as much as average customers on the brands they are loyal to speaks volumes to the importance of building strong brand advocates. There are many known motivators to what turns someone into a brand advocate, and giving back to causes that you, as an organization, care about is surely one way to get there. It’s a win-win for your customers, your brand, and the cause you’re supporting!
You have worked with our organization at many different capacities… from volunteer to expert consultant. Why REBUILD globally? What about our work resonates with you the most?
Is this the part where I get to blabber on about how much I LOVE Rebuild?! I mean, I honestly don’t know where to start. I was first introduced to Julie a few years ago through a nonprofit initiative that helped female founders grow and scale their companies in Central Florida and I’ve been following her story, along with Rebuild, ever since. I have to admit, I was always a silent admirer up until recently, and what I loved most about Rebuild (with the exception of the mission) was the energy of the team. Anyone could see from miles away that Julie’s passion radiated throughout the team and permeated through the work. Between Rebuild’s incredible programming and staggering rates of job creation to how you’ve been steadfast in helping to change the narrative of Haiti – THEN you came out with a gorgeous spring collection last year at Runway to Haiti (I bought like 4 pieces), I had the capacity at that point to get involved on a deeper level.
I am constantly in awe of what Rebuild is doing, but if I had to choose, what resonates with me the most about your work is the dignity and power you give back to the families in Haiti. Rebuild has created a sustainable infrastructure of training and job creation that empowers the men and women of Haiti to capitalize on their strengths, leverage the goods and materials unique to their region, while providing a platform to expand in areas that are unfamiliar. I’m hopeful that many more countries can experience what Rebuild Globally has to offer, and I’m excited to stay tuned for what holds for your future!
What advice would you give other entrepreneurs and business owners about using their business as a force for good?
O man – my advice would be to find your tribe (or your collection of tribes). Find those organizations and support systems that are building the foundations for doing good in areas that you care about. Whether it’s saving the oceans and turtles, supporting local artists in a rural region, food sustainability (ugly fruit is a thing, and you should look in to it), programs that support veterans – whatever it is – find those organizations and get involved. Volunteer at a local event, offer free advice, reach out to people on LinkedIn, offer to host a workshop or write a blog, just go for it and rely on your company’s ability to bring value in this area. Overtime, you’ll start to create your own support system and networks and before you know it, your business will be a dominant force for good!