Julie Mathers is a purpose-driven leader and the founder of Flora & Fauna, a B Corp and Australia's largest eco store.
Following a career in retail, Julie launched Flora & Fauna in 2014 with no external investment and was named No. 1 Person in eCommerce in Australia for both 2019 and 2021, Business Person of the Year at the GALA Awards in 2018, and the prestigious Remodista Women 2 Watch Innovation Award in 2017.
Flora & Fauna has been awarded a long string of accolades including Best New Online Retailer after only operating for six months, Telstra Small Business of the Year 2018 for NSW, Deloitte Tech Fast 50 in 2019 and 2020, Top Sustainable Retailer at the Power Retail Awards in 2020 and 2021 and was acquired by BWX, the Australian beauty and wellness business, in 2021.
We caught up with Julie following the announcement of her departure from Flora & Fauna, as she prepares for the exciting next chapter of her own purpose-driven journey.
Julie shared some words of wisdom to help other leaders make their businesses or organisation more purpose-driven.
Define your purpose and values
This might seem obvious but it took me a good three to four years to be able to really define what our purpose was.
Prior to that, we were growing into our own skin, so weren’t clear what we were here to do. And being the best website is not a purpose! When you have determined your purpose – why you exist – and your values – how you’ll act – talk about them daily. Shout about them loud and clear. We have always used our purpose and values to drive every decision we make, whether that’s the packaging we use or which bank we use.
Learn to measure yourself
Find your base metrics, and then work to improve them.
Flora & Fauna is proud to be a B Corp – and we have re-certified too, which you need to do every three years. Being a B Corp is far more than the certification; you go on a journey to being a better business and a big part of this is the process you go through to become a B Corp. I recommend any business to do the assessment to really understand where they sit and what they can do in terms of improving their business. It looks at everything from ownership to constitution, waste, products, employees and so much more. It doesn’t matter if you get a low score – you come away with clear actions on what you could do to improve it.
Make it meaningful
Actions speak louder than words.
Don’t just talk the talk – if you’re going to talk about things you’ve done, make sure it’s authentic and meaningful. Too many businesses talk about something which isn’t meaningful at all in reality. They might say: ‘we donate 5% of profits to charity’ – but if you don’t make any money, it’s $20 a year. Work out where your real impact is and make it count!
Get your team onboard
Teamwork makes the dream work – get your stakeholders pulling in the same direction and towards a common goal.
The only way you’re going to deliver anything is if your team understands, believes and buys in. This is crucial. We have always recruited with values front and centre – and this is key. The first question I ask at interviews is ‘Describe your values to me’.
Look for like-minded partners
Find like-minded organisations to support you on your journey.
We look for agencies and partners that get us. We look for shared values. This means the relationship goes way beyond being transactional and we know that they care. Ultimately we get a better result.
One of the benefits of partnering with other organisations is that you’ll get diversity of perspective, which helps bring new ideas and new thinking to the table. It’s not about excluding others, but uniting thorough a shared purpose.