Meet the B Corps: Oakbay Luxury Getaway

At DGW Branded, we like to think we operate a little differently from traditional businesses. One of our fundamental beliefs is that our community and workers should come before profit and that protecting the planet takes priority before self-interest. We’re always on the lookout for other businesses that have a similar mission-driven approach to redefine what it means to be a successful company. We recently had the opportunity to speak with Oakbay Luxury Getaway, a Canadian B Corp whose approach to business, making the world a better place, is the same reason why everyone at DGW Branded gets up in the morning. 

 

When enquiring about the products we offer, founder and CEO Jennifer Schnier told us a little bit about her business model. With her knowledge and passion for sustainability and the green business model, we felt a more formal interview would be most beneficial to explain why Oakbay is at the forefront of the green rental revolution and how becoming B Corp certified has helped the business. Jennifer was kind enough to accept our invitation and we’re delighted to share some of what she has to say here. If you would like to listen to the full audio track of the interview, just click here. We also have the transcript for those who would like to hear Jennifer’s in-depth answers in full.

About Jennifer Schnier and Oakbay Luxury Getaway

Our conversation began with finding out more about Jennifer and how Oakbay Luxury Getaway came into being. When asked about why she felt it was imperative to have her Airbnb be as sustainable as possible, Jennifer told us that it all began from her experience at college. “I started to realize that the perception of ‘green’ and ‘sustainability’ and companies that feel that they’re doing their part is very different.” Jennifer felt compelled for her future business to be one that made a genuine difference in her local community and the wider world rather than merely sprout the empty platitudes and false promises that is common in the business world. 

 

 

I did an AHOC study between one company that really cared for the growers and where their coffee beans came from and another company  – a pretty famous company – that felt that going green was just changing the bulbs in their head office. It really made me mindful of how companies care about the environment all the way down the supply chain. Did they really have an interest in where the raw materials came from and who was harvesting that product?

 

 

Being deeply aware and meticulous about the source of everything relating to the business is why Jennifer made sure that Oakbay was sustainable and eco-friendly right from its inception. She felt this was absolutely necessary, especially being in the travel and hospitality industry which is associated with amassing a high carbon footprint. Surrounded by the natural beauty of Port Severn, Muskoka in south-east Canada, and “a part of the largest freshwater archipelago in the world” so it was obvious that “sustainability makes good sense to us!” 

 

On top of that, Jennifer wanted the business to be more than a getaway for the extreme eco-enthusiast. Oakbay is in the constant pursuit of ensuring guests “enjoy and feel comfortable” with touches of luxury to truly allow guests to unwind and relax.

It was a pleasure to speak with Jennifer and learn more about her business and passion for the environment

Joining the B Corp Movement

Often when DGW Branded partners with other B Corps, they are predominantly found in a few industries. A lot of our clients are in the cosmetics industry, with apparel and health foods also making up a significant portion of our B Corp customer base. Being in the hospitality service while being B Corp certified proves that any business can succeed while being a B Corp regardless of the industry that they’re in. For Jennifer, it was when realizing the objectives of the B Corp movement matched her own philosophy that she decided to pursue certification. It “made us realize that we’re heading into a movement where the B Corp organization aligns quite nicely with our mission.”  

 

Being a B Corp wasn’t enough for Oakway Luxury Getaway. The company knew that in order to maximize the impact that they had, the closer they will be to reaching their sustainability goals. As Jennifer stated, “we’re really promoting B Corp products, be it the soaps and shampoos, spices and coffee in the cupboards, they [our customers] look at the labels and find out what these companies are all about and realize that it makes sense.”

Looking to the Future

One of the questions that we asked Jennifer was how she envisioned Oakbay Luxury Getaway would look like five to ten years from now. One of the reasons we asked this question was because many businesses and business owners feel that committing to the extra regulations placed on B Corps, however altruistic, is not feasible while having a profitable and growing business. Jennifer proves that this couldn’t be further from the truth. She told us that “we’ve bought another property – a townhouse with a nice big yard.” With more knowledge and experience the company will “learn from our mistakes and do things even better.” 

 

It’s not just her personal business that was discussed in our conversation regarding the future. Jennifer was asked about what actions should be taken to increase the number of Airbnbs and hotels that put the environment first. We asked, “should there be more government regulations or policies to mandate this sort of change for the whole industry, or should it be more dependent on individual establishments to how they run their business?” 

 

While Jennifer believes that yes, governments should more strictly regulate this industry into being more eco-friendly, the power lies in the hands of us citizens. She said, “I think the consumer is driving that one. I recently heard that 70% of people would choose to travel sustainably if given the option. We’ve seen that in our business, people want to do good for the environment.” 

Home sweet home. Oakbay will welcome you like family

A final word

Implementing sustainability isn’t always easy. Being a new concept, it’s not well-understood or well-supported by the ecosystem (although that’s slowly changing). You may have a hard time creating a truly sustainable process – like finding an ethical supplier or switching to renewable energy. The cost may be too high or your products may not receive as warm a reception as you were expecting. Some of your employees may also be resistant to it all. Failure is common.  

 

DGW Branded specializes in sourcing sustainable products for office (and home and personal) use. You can get in touch with us to learn more about what we can do for you.

Let's do good together.

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