Spotlight on Boll & Branch
Shopping for bed linens in 2011, Missy and Scott Tannen were dismayed to discover that few stores evinced any knowledge of—or interest in—where or how their products were made. Were sustainable materials used exclusively? Were the people who grew the cotton and made the products fairly paid and well-treated? No one seemed to know. Or care.
It’s hardly a secret that those who toil in the fields and factories of India’s textile industry endure harsh, often life-threatening conditions and crushing economic privation. As the Tannens wandered through the bedding departments of store after store, they asked themselves, “How good, really, can a product be if it endangers the life of the people who make it?
In 2014, the couple started their own bed linens company, Boll & Branch. Their mission—to make high-end organic sheets while “doing what’s right”—would also become their brand’s value proposition. It means choosing farming, labor and supply chain practices that raise the standard of living for farmers and factory workers in India. Simply put, the Boll & Branch brand is about delivering luxury with a social conscience.
That commitment is evidenced today in a canon of non-negotiable standards Boll & Branch refers to as “the 100 club”: 100 percent of the company’s products are made with sustainable raw materials, without harmful chemicals or GMOs, and in factories that prioritize workers’ empowerment and sustainable incomes; 100 percent of its packaging is made from recycled paper. The decision to use 100% organic cotton has helped improve the lives of tens of thousands of cotton farmers while resulting in a better product. It also saves 90% of the water used in conventional farming methods.
By building a supply chain with extreme levels of control and traceability, Boll & Branch is able to ensure that the manufacture of its products benefits all involved, from farmers and workers to shippers and customers. “This effort succeeds largely because of our direct-to-consumer business model,” notes the company’s first annual Impact Report, released this year. “By avoiding multiple resellers and markups, consumers pay a competitive price for our linens and home goods. On the other side of that, we can pay a living wage to the farmers and workers we employ.”
When the pandemic took hold throughout the U.S. in the first half of 2020, it was inevitable that Boll & Branch would step up. The Tannens’ first thought was to donate PPE to hospitals. “But we recognized we didn’t have the infrastructure or proper supplies to be able to support the front lines and that larger establishments with access to proper machinery and substantial output could likely better service that need,” Scott says. So instead of donating masks, the company played from its strength, donating over 3,000 mattresses and 5,000 pillows to emergency medical operations in New York and emergency homeless shelters in Pennsylvania and Florida.
Boll & Branch is also a member organization of Brands X Better, a coalition of 140 brands that have joined forces to aid communities during the COVID-19 crisis. Coalition members pledged to donate 10% of their proceeds to charities between April 1 and May 31.
When Missy & Scott decided to start a new textile company six years ago, it was with a thought to make great products and do right by people. “Accepting the status quo is a choice, and we chose to reject it, they say. “Every choice we make today needs to be something we can defend to our children. Were we helping? Were we doing all we can?” Guided by an uncompromising moral compass, Boll & Branch has made the choice to live its brand every day.
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About Brand Acts of Kindness®
Brand Acts of Kindness® is a series from Carpenter Group that spotlights companies across industries that are living their brand values in addressing the unprecedented challenges facing the world today.
The series initially headlined companies assisting healthcare workers and first responders, as well as communities, businesses and families impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. We also highlight brands taking the lead in supporting social and racial justice, LGBTQ rights, sustainability and the environment. Their stories show how innovation, resolve and action, built on a solid value proposition, can both strengthen a brand and help create a better world.
About Carpenter Group
Carpenter Group is an independent, woman-owned strategic branding, messaging and marketing communications firm that has delivered results-driven solutions to financial, professional services and technology firms for 30+ years.
Our broad cross-discipline experience enables us to craft brand messaging and carry it through to the channels that most effectively connect with our clients’ target audience, from editorial content to advertising to event marketing and more.