The Curious Capitalist – Laura Hall (WHYZ Partners)

On this episode of The Curious Capitalist podcast, I am joined by Conscious Capitalist Laura Hall. Laura is a Conscious Business leader with a background in the fashion industry. She is also active in climate justice through her work with the Rainforest Partnership.

For this podcast, we decided to focus on the future of the planet and children. She is the author of The ABC’s of Conscious Capitalism for Kids and we are going to dive in and find out more about her motivation and this wonderful resource.

Laura Hall LinkedIn page

Buy Laura’s Book The ABC’s of Conscious Capitalism for Kids

WHYZ Partners Website

The Rainforest Partnership

Conscious Capitalism Connecticut Website


Welcome to the latest installment of the Curious Capitalist. Brought to you by the Board of Conscious Capitalism in Connecticut. The Curious Capitalist is a series of podcasts where we take the opportunity to not only speak to board members from the Conscious Capitalism Connecticut chapter, But also to business owners, startups, and entrepreneurs, the curious capitalist is available on all of the world's biggest podcast platforms, including apple podcasts, google podcasts, amazon music and spotify.

Never miss an episode again. And subscribe today, wherever you get your podcasts from. Welcome along to the latest episode of the curious capitalist. Now on today's show, I am joined by conscious business leader, Laura Hall. Now Laura's expertise and passion for conscious capitalism. It offered us a huge choice of topics for today's podcast, including.

fashion and how the fashion industry is the second dirtiest industry on the planet, and also climate justice and her work with the rainforest partnership. However, we decided to focus this episode on children, the future of the planet, shall we say. Now, Laura is a published author under the Conscious Capitalism Press with her book called The ABCs of Conscious Capitalism for Kids.

I love it. I so need a copy. So, enough of my waffle. Laura, welcome to The Curious Capitalist. Well, I am delighted to be here, dear friend and fellow stakeholder for children, compatriot Claire. Thank you for having me. Oh, it's an absolute pleasure. I am so grateful for your time. And I know that you are actually on the West Coast, so it's very early for you.

So I do feel sorry. I hope you've had enough coffee to rock and roll on this one. So let's dive in, Laura. Tell me a little bit about you. Who are you and how did you get here? And how did you discover Conscious Capitalism? I have spent the great majority of my business career in the fashion industry. You talked about the fashion industry.

It's the second dirtiest industry. I'm trying to change that. But along the way I had some Big lessons in life, starting with why I actually went into business. I was in law school. I thought it was going to change the world a long time ago. And then I realized I probably wasn't going to change the world, but maybe I could do something to change my world.

So I got into business by accident, started working at a department store when I was in graduate school, loved it. So I have subsequently spent my career and my time toiling in the fashion industry. I discovered Conscious Capitalism a few years ago, actually in 2017, because I was standing in line, like I always do at Whole Foods, it takes forever.

Anyway, I'm in that line, and they're very smart, they put all those magazines on either side of you, so I'm like... Oh look, there's this magazine called Conscious Company Media or Conscious Company Magazine and I'm like going, well, the reason I picked it up, Claire, the reason I bought it was because Eileen Fisher was on the cover.

Eileen Fisher is a hero of mine. She's a fashion designer. Eileen Fisher's a fashion brand. It is one of the best brands in terms of how it treats people and the planet. So I said, okay, I'll buy the magazine and I'll look at it. I took it home and I discovered this thing called conscious capitalism. At about the same time, I was working at Ralph Lauren as president of accessories.

And I began to really have these little talks in my head. This is not right. I'd see things. I'd hear things. I'd go to factories. I realized this wasn't right. Ah, so I became a conscious capitalist in, in reality. I went to my first CEO summit. It was amazing. I felt like I'd found my family. And then I began to realize that my business, my role in my business, I began to think about what is my legacy going to be.

I think many of us began to think about our legacy about this time in our lives. I was a mother. I was a grandmother. I realized that I had to do something differently. I had to help change business, help change my part of business fashion, but mostly I feel and felt a huge responsibility to future generations.

So that's why I wrote. The ABCs of Conscious Capitalism for Kids, because I think they are often overlooked as stakeholders in business. They really truly are, and you're right, I think I've come quite late to the party to motherhood, and sometimes I look at him and I'm like, wow, I'm really passing something on to you here, son.

You know, the world feels like it's about to implode on a regular basis. You can really tune in to some of the negative headlines. You know, and I feel like it's really important for me as a mother also to balance out what's wonderful in the world as well and to give him a balanced view. But ultimately, I think you said it earlier is like the debt that we are passing on to the next generation.

It's huge. It's huge, you know, and if we can do a small bit just to make that a little bit less, then that's something I feel morally obliged to do my best. So tell me about the book. How did it come about? I just love it. I love the idea of it. I'm definitely gonna buy a copy of the book. Tell me about how it came about.

Well, first of all, thank you for buying a copy. Go to Conscious Capitalism Press and buy your copy. So, you know, I'm trying to support the organization. The book came about because I began to have conversations with my grandchildren. And I began to realize that when I talked to them and their friends, they would ask questions about what I did.

And so, I actually got one of my first big lessons. When I talked to children and my grandchildren and their friends and ask them what they thought business was and how it should work. They all just that business should work the way conscious capitalism and conscious businesses work. They don't really know yet that business can be bad or can hurt people and the planet.

They look at me like, why isn't this the way business is done already? Why isn't it? That compelled me to a reckoning and an awakening. So I wrote the book for them. I wrote it as a legacy. And what happened is that I had no idea when I wrote the book in 2019 and it came out in early 2020 of what was going to happen on the planet.

I had no idea about the global health crisis followed by a global social justice crisis followed by a climate crisis that's rearing its head at all at the same time. And it made me realize that we don't have a choice. It's what you said. Thinking about the kind of world we leave, the kind of business world, the kind of planet we leave for our children and future generations is critical.

There's a quote from John F. Kennedy. He said, Children are the living messages that we send to a time. We will not see we as business leaders, especially need to think about that. And also from our indigenous communities. Friends and nations, that seventh generation belief I am trying to bring into the world of conscious capitalism.

Every decision a business leader makes, they should think about the impact of that decision of their business seven generations down. It's really critical. Children are stakeholders in business. We believe in elevating humanity through business. That should include our very youngest humans. I cannot agree more.

I truly can't. I think anybody who is doing business today, and they have children, and they have grandchildren, and they continue to chase this capitalist dream of chasing a dollar bill, I want no part of you or your product. That's my truth. That's morally how I see the world. But it's about giving people...

I often talk about this on the podcast. It's about giving people true examples of how you can do business for good for people and planet and slowly grow them and integrate them into your business right now from day one. It's not about this great 10 year plan, like in 10 years, we're going to be able to be net zero or whatever it is.

It could be done now, little bit at a time, and to make those decisions, like you said, thinking about your children, or your grandchildren, or your great grandchildren, who you're yet to meet. If we did that, we genuinely could make some real, real difference to this planet that we call home. I could not agree more.

And I want to add something that I believe is important. And you and I have talked about it, Claire, and I want to tell everyone on this podcast that It is really important for business to think about how they treat children and think about children early. It starts early. The facts are that the first five years of a child's life are critical for brain development.

I don't know if people know this, but a toddler's vocabulary at the age three determines their reading ability in the third grade. If you don't know yet how important those first five years are, I'm here to tell business they're critically important and children are in your community. They're already part of your business.

They're The children of your employees, your customers, they're in your community. We have, I believe a privilege and an obligation to help them because if we don't, I will tell you that what Frederick Douglass said a really long time ago is true. It's easier to build strong children. Then to repair broken men, we are seeing right now the high cost of trying to repair broken men instead of building strong children.

That price is frankly too high if you're a conscious capitalist. Yeah, I just couldn't agree more. I really couldn't. So you've written this fabulous book that there are, and there are 26 chapters. One, I'm assuming for every letter of the alphabet because I don't have my copy yet. Tell me a little bit of the process, I guess, of writing it.

Was it fun? Was it heavy going? Where did you take your inspiration from when you were writing the book? Well, I took the inspiration from my mother, actually. My mother was a librarian. My mother got to see and read the book. She passed away during COVID, but we had a wonderful life together. She lived a great life and she taught me a lot.

Books are important. The alphabet is important. So I love, I have always been fascinated by the ABCs of, it's kind of like. Instead of, you know, realism for dummies. This is one version of that. I will tell you, Claire, the big surprise is because of the pandemic and everybody going into hibernation and people couldn't go to work, children couldn't go to school.

I had a lot more people reading the book with their kids than probably I would have had if that had not happened. So I benefited. The book was... It was work, of course, but I will give big credit to Roundtable Companies, who is the publisher of the book. They helped me. They had two young women helping me, who were so amazing.

Both of them had been teachers. So I can't tell you, it became a love fest. And a legacy of love for all of us because we had a whole little group of women and I'm going to celebrate us right now, you know, who were committed to doing this because we think it's important for children to learn early on that business can be a force for good.

The Curious Capitalist podcast on behalf of the Conscious Capitalism Connecticut chapter is created and produced by Red Rock Branding. If you are enjoying this episode, please subscribe to and share this podcast today. Yeah, absolutely. It's not just about one's bank balance, car, and zip code. Absolutely.

I love it, and I love the idea of it. I do love the idea of breaking it down into the ABCs. It's a nice touch. So, on to some more questions, I guessed, conscious capitalism focused, if you like. Tell me, if somebody came to you and said, listen, I'm in business, I've done really well, I'm reasonably successful, I've got a decent company, but I want to make a change, do you know what I mean?

I would... Like to make a shift towards being more conscious. What would your advice be to that company or that individual? Well, I have the privilege, I guess, of being able to actually answer that question for business leaders sometimes. I am partners with two other women in a very small company called Wise Partners.

And what we do now is, you know, we, three wise women, don't you know, We... I love that. I love that. Don't frankincense and myrrh spring to mind. Let's go. I love it. Yes, we're the three magi. I will tell you, that is a question that we get asked and we love to answer. Because the first thing is that It starts wherever and whenever and wherever you live.

That business leader who has come to that realization, I applaud them. I celebrate them. And you know what? It is a journey. You take the first step. Just start somewhere. Start now. Anywhere. Start where your company and your employees or your product in terms of becoming conscious. Patagonia has a different way of approaching and a different higher purpose than Ben and Jerry's ice cream.

You know, it is a different road for everybody. But if we all get it on the journey together. The one thing I can tell you, Claire, is that when people do get this feeling. It can happen pretty quickly, especially because that higher purpose thing is infectious. It can get your employees, your vendors, your community, and your customers.

I'm in the fashion industry, girlfriend. Customers are telling us what they want, and the young generation is especially telling us right now. We are not going back. We are not going to accept what it used to be. So those business leaders who want to start the journey, I applaud them and I am here to help them what I can do for growing this movement of like minded, like valued business leaders.

I'm up for it, girl. Awesome. Awesome. And can people reach out to you and your other two wise women for almost consultations and for guidance if they're starting their way on this journey, if you like, to finding their higher purpose? And then the hardest bit, I think, which is the culture and leadership of trying to implement that within a business and get people on the same crazy train as you towards your common objective.

Is that something that you guys offer? It absolutely is. And, you know, we are more focused on the retail consumer goods part, which includes fashion, food, etc. But, I will tell you, not one have we said no to in terms of having a conversation. You may not want to hire us, and we don't care right now. I mean, we do.

But I will tell you that it's really important right now, Claire, for engagement. It is so important that we begin to have the conversation because you never know where it's going to go. So, yes, laura at wisepartners. com We are Ready, willing, and able. I am part of the Conscious Capitalism family. The Connecticut chapter, by the way, wow, what y'all are doing is wonderful.

We need the chapters. I'm here. I think the only way to move ahead is to move together. I really, really believe that. It's now more important than ever. Yeah, I couldn't agree more. The Conscious Capitalism Connecticut chapter, easy for me to say, uh, recently launched a leader's network, you know, and a program.

designed for exactly that people who want to learn more and put into practice some of their ideas and aspirations. And it's been so, so rewarding, I guess it's been so rewarding to see the changes and the difference that it's making. We can see it happening of course, but what we don't always get to see is the benefits as they filter down the chain, so to speak.

So the employees and the suppliers and. The whole process along and it's fascinating the fashion industry. I mean, I'm not a great one for fashion. I don't know if you can tell from this zoom. Thank goodness. See, I have a face for radio and this is why, because fashion is one of those genes I never got passed down, I'm afraid, but you get to see, you get to see an industry, which I know from certainly speaking with Glenn McDermott, who is the executive director of Conscious Capitalism Connecticut.

He worked in the fashion industry. and he's passionate about some of the practices that are still happening today, you know, and, and they need to change, you know, and he said to me, younger people are voting with their, their pocketbooks, they won't give you the money if they know that it's potentially not been ethically created and made and this disposable world that we now live in where it's like, oh, I've got a hole there.

I'm just going to throw it away. That kind of disposable fashion. Yes. There has to, there has to be an end point to it, right? There has to be change. There does. It has to happen. Yeah. And fashion is, you know, we could have a whole other podcast about fashion. Because there's a whole lot of other things that we can do together.

We all. Whether we consider ourselves fashionable or fashion, you know, fashionista. Yeah, I, I don't really like that word in a way because you know what? I look at fashion as actually, you know, what you put on every day. And unless you're in a nudist colony, you're going to have to think about what you put on.

Whether it's a basic t shirt or a tuxedo girl or boys. And let me just add. I do want to go back or to reiterate that whether it's fashion or any business, if you want to be a conscious business leader, I am well aware and all of us are that you have to make a profit before you can help people and the planet.

I am not here to tell you otherwise. I believe that one of the things we try to do at wise partners is help companies who know that they want to help people in the planet, but they haven't figured out the business side. All three of those are important, but I am a capitalist. I believe business can be a force for good.

In fact, I believe that business is probably the single biggest engine to make the change needed. But business is going to have to step in and step out quickly. And where children are concerned, oh my god, we have business obligation, but a moral and an ethical one. Somebody asked me why I was a conscious capitalist the other day.

Claire and I said, because the alternative is unthinkable. Yeah, absolutely. It is now time. Now is the time for all of us, especially business leaders. We have. A lot of influence in our communities. The other thing I tell everyone, Claire, you don't have to change the world, but you can start right now to change your little part of the world.

And that ripple effect is a powerful one. And when it comes to children, what you're investing in now with children is going to give you that return on investment. Way down the line. So I tie it to a legacy too and you said something a few minutes ago about, you know, 10 years, 15 years. Don't wait. Yeah, I believe that one of the reasons I love the conscious capitalism community is it's teaching me how to build my legacy in the here and now.

And not waiting until some, I don't know, esoteric moment at the end of my life or my career to go, Oops, I screwed up. Maybe I need to do something differently. You know, it's a journey, but. It's part of, of leaving a legacy also, I believe. It really is. And it's nice the way you, you actually wrap that up.

It's something that perhaps isn't talked about enough, but you have to be a successful business and you are in business to make money so that you actually then can do some good. And I think that's an important sort of cycle that, it's a circle of events, I guess. The people who maybe don't know about conscious capitalism, like, oh, the do gooders, yeah, doing business for good, but making no money.

It doesn't work like that because it can't work like that. You know, and if you have a sound business practice in place, you're going to make money. And you're also going to be able to look after your employees and your stakeholders and your vendors and also the future of our planet and our children.

Thank you, please. Go girl. Amen to that. You are so right. There is hope. I believe that all of us. Can make a difference. It's what you said. It's how we vote with our pocketbook It's the little things we do every day to help children to support them to help the planet whether it's recycling or reusing and Especially in business.

I am such an avid believer in what you said a few moments ago We need to support those businesses who are doing good by buying their product. Please vote with your pocketbook. Customers are in the driver's seat right now. Don't forget, that's the power you have as well. Yeah, years ago. It was the mysterious brand that you were buying into.

People now, not even my generation, even generations after me, are paying attention. They're paying great attention. My, when I was young, no, I just wanted whatever I wanted. Now there is a real drive towards actually, what do you stand for? You know, what, what's your business about? Patagonia is a great example.

There are a number of others, you know, of small mom and pops type businesses that I want to support. I want to support them because I know what they're about and I know what they're doing. And I know they are enhancing the world I live in and not just taking. And I want to always support them. And that's.

a wave of consumers that are coming through like a tidal wave and if you're a business not paying attention to that generation, you're done anyway. You're done. I agree. I really do. There's a strong business case, Claire, because, you know, conscious capitalism is two words, conscious, which to me is really simple.

It's based on the idea that if business is done the right way. Consciously that it can help people in the planet. Thoughtfully, I always think of thoughtfully. I always think of it as thoughtfully doing business. Thoughtful capitalism, conscious capitalism, caring capitalism. I'm also pretty agnostic.

Whatever word you want to use and call it, just do it, please. Because then we will all benefit. And I gotta tell you, I am seeing young people. Who are doing it already. They're creating companies. I am privileged to now meet them, work with some of them, help advise them. They are changing the world. They look at business very differently.

So here is my wish. May it be so clear that 10 years from now, the way we're talking about business. Is the actual norm and we don't have to keep having this conversation. Wouldn't that be wonderful? That would be amazing. I'd love to be an extinct dinosaur. Come on, bring it on. Me too. Yes. Yes, indeed. Oh my goodness.

Listen, what do you like to do when you're not changing the world and fighting every injustice and being a part of the Three Wise Women? What do you like to do to unwind and relax, Laura? Well, I went to the Amazon rainforest in August, 2019 and, oh wow, it changed a lot of things for me, but what I do now came back from the rainforest.

Then the pandemic hit, I took a lot of walks and now I built that into what I love to do. I actually live in California and I go up to trees and hug them. So I am a tree hugging Californian. Oh, my God. I am a tree hugging Californian. I hug trees. I love nature. I love... Also, I love to cook. I grew up in the South, so I'm a pretty good Southern cook.

So, I make the best sweet potato biscuits ever. So, when you come visit me, Claire, I'll make you some sweet potato biscuits. Yes, absolutely. And also, you know where all the best trees are. So, I'm game for that. I'm a bit of a hugger, I'll have a hug. It's a win win. You're going to feed me and entertain me, I'm in, I'll book my flight.

Laura, I can't thank you enough. There were so many, genuinely so many topics that we could have done on this podcast. And we're like, oh, they're all really solid, you know, and they're ones that I really want to dive into. So, you're definitely going to come back. We haven't scared you off. We're going to do a part two of this, yeah?

Well, I would be delighted. Continuing this conversation would give me a lot of pleasure and we could get into some good trouble, Clare. I'm guaranteed. But like I said to you, I've been doing this a little while now and they've not fired me yet. I know. So, I mean, I love it. We will put links in the show notes to everything that you have spoken about today.

We will also put a link to the Conscious Capitalism Press. I urge you, if you have children or you have grandchildren, Why not do it? Just jump onto that link and buy yourself a copy of this wonderful book. And no, I don't get paid commission. Kind of would go against everything we're doing. It's the ABCs of Conscious Capitalism for Kids.

I will put a link in there for that and also so that you can get in touch with Laura directly. If people wanted to reach out to you, carry on the conversation, what would be the best way of doing that? I would ask them to email me at Laura. at wise WHYZ partners. com Awesome. Are you also on LinkedIn and all the usuals?

I am on LinkedIn and all the usuals. And I post every week on LinkedIn about something to do with conscious capitalism or children as stakeholders in business. So together. We can do this. One business person can change anything. Business together can change everything. Go. Now. There is nothing to add to this podcast.

That's the most perfect ending. Laura, it's been such a privilege talking to you. I feel inspired. And Laura, it's been a privilege and a pleasure having you on The Curious Capitalist. Thank you, Claire, for having me. I was honored and I look forward to future conversations. Thank you for taking the time to listen to this episode of The Curious Capitalist.

If you would like to find out more about Conscious Capitalism, or if you would like to join the local chapter, visit the website connecticut. consciouscapitalism. org. The Curious Capitalist is available on all podcast platforms, including Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Amazon Music, and Spotify. If you have enjoyed listening to this episode, subscribe to and share this podcast today.

This podcast was created and produced by Red Rock Branding, redrockbranding. com.

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