Since Kerryn Brownson purchased Better Bearings in 2017 she wanted to make the brand plastic-free. Kerryn kept hunting for plastic-free manufacturing options and finally reached her goal. We spoke to the single mom from Australia about this journey and why she strives for more than just offering high performing bearings.
Kerryn, congrats to making Better Bearings plastic free. This was a goal of yours since we last spoke a few years ago. How does it feel to finally having reached it?
Thank you, it feels fantastic. I love knowing that I will save thousands of bottles of single-use plastic from landfill.
What does it involve being plastic free and where were the challenges?
The challenge of becoming plastic-free was I had to keep hunting for plastic-free manufacturing options. When I first set this goal, technology hadn’t caught up yet and there wasn’t the option that we are using today. Technology is always changing and I always like to keep on researching and see how we can be better.
When I produce a product or its packaging I have to look at all the components it’s made of and make sure it’s environmentally friendly and produced responsibly. It takes a little longer to hunt around for the right product/manufacturing option, but to me, it’s well worth it.
For example, most business cards have a plastic coating on them, but the ones I ordered are made from recycled t-shirts, when I need to order more it will be a digital card (which wasn’t yet available when I ordered the recycled t-shirt cards). I always reevaluate and see if Better Bearings can do better for the planet.
What are the bottles of the lube and bearing wash bottle made of?
They are made out of Wheat Flour.
Why did you take the difficult way? You could probably make more profit doing it like most companies.
For Better Bearings the bottom-line comes in three parts: people, planet, and profit. The three Ps is an accounting framework in which my company’s success is measured not just by its financials, but also by the positive social and environmental impact it makes on the world.
Better Bearings is working on two goals from the United Nations’ sustainable development goals. The first goal is number 5. Gender Equality – to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls. I donate 5% of the profits to UN Women Australia. UN Women Australia is a registered charity raising funds for women’s empowerment and gender equality, focusing on ending violence, ending poverty and increasing women’s leadership.
Our other goal is number 12. Responsible Production and Consumption. Worldwide consumption and production continue to have a destructive impact on the planet. Better Bearings wants no part of this. It’s in all businesses’ interest to find new solutions that enable sustainable consumption and production patterns, and I strive to do just that. I chose this because to me it’s the only way, like our name I always strive to be better.
Do you think or hope that customers care about brands being sustainable and acting responsible?
I hope so, I can’t speak for everyone but I know I do, and I have many customers reaching out and thanking me for the sustainable choices I offer. If consumers could be thoughtful about what they buy and choose a sustainable option whenever possible, as demand increases, it will hopefully encourage more companies to make changes and better choices in their production. We only have one planet, let’s take care of it.
Is Better Bearings still a side hustle or did it become a full-time job?
Well I wouldn’t call it a side hustle, as it has my full focus…… but yes I do still have a full-time job, I manage Better Bearings when I am not working my 9-5, I am also a single mum, which makes me extremely busy and tired … lol… I work 60+ hours a week. I am waiting for the day I can afford to give up my full-time job and work on BB full-time. The good part is I work from home and run Better Bearings out of a shipping container in my backyard, so I do not have to allow for travel to eat into my day. It’s still only me working in the business, and I do everything from packing orders to product development, social media, accounts, and website, you name it I do it.
What are your future plans and hopes?
Well, I’d say:
1. Get B Corp Certified – B Corp certification is evidence that your business is committed to and balances people, planet and profit. It proves your business meets the highest global standards of social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability. I have achieved the score needed to be Certified, I just need to get all my policies in place, which just takes time.
- Set up a national bearing recycling program, where the profits go to UN Women Australia. Then an international one.
- I’m planning a global charity skate event in support of UN Women Australia, that will hopefully launch next year.
- Setting up bearing wash refill centers in skate shops.
- There is more in the pipeline, but nothing I can talk about just yet.