Biz: Socially Conscious Shopping

Locals Connor Knutson and Justin Hoffman recently launched a startup with a "conscious commerce" business model.
December 31 2013, 1:00 PM

Connor Knutson and Justin Hoffman grew up playing hockey together in Arvada, and are still working together: The duo’s recent venture involved quitting their day jobs to combine social change and online retail. Launched on Thanksgiving, their Internet-based startup, ShareBrands, allows shoppers to buy essential goods while supporting a cause they care about.

Here’s how it works: Customers can browse the website for sustainably-produced goodies spanning from coffee mugs to yoga mats to headphones, each complete with a ShareBrands logo print. Before completing the transaction, shoppers pick a color that represents the cause they wish to support—pink for women’s and children’s health, green for environment, yellow for education, blue for men and children’s health, or red for poverty. ShareBrands gives 25 percent of the sale to their nonprofit partners representing the selected color.

Knutson and Hoffman’s creative spin on retail, or as they call it, “conscious commerce,” has already benefitted programs such as Project Angel Heart, which helps Denver residents affected by HIV and AIDS, and Rays of Grace, which works to bring education programs to children in Uganda. Having already reached a couple hundred online orders, the two twenty-somethings have high hopes of someday expanding their endeavor into a physical storefront—which would be some combination of a coffee shop, bar, and clothing boutique—all with the same mission as their website. 

Convinced it's a good cause? Start shopping here

—Image courtesy Connor Knutson