Have you ever cringed at the high prices often associated with socially-responsible products? Those days are over. The brand new online shopping platform Roozt allows you to learn about social entrepreneurs promoting sustainable items, and to purchase those for up to 80% off their original retail price. All you have to do is get in on the “deal of the day.” A simple yet brilliant concept, the site founded by San Francisco native Brent Freeman encourages consumers to buy responsibly and to educate themselves about the story behind the products.
How would you describe Roozt?
Roozt is an online platform that helps inspire and empower social entrepreneurs to succeed. We are their incubator, their nest, their home, their “roozt.” We help connect them with customers on a national level who may never have heard of the brand otherwise. If you boil it down, we’re storytellers. We take these inspiring companies and share the story of why people should care about them and purchase their products.
How does a product make it to Roozt?
You have to fit into at least one of the following categories: community-conscious, humanitarian, ethical, eco-friendly. We offer products at a significant discount in limited quantity and limited time – as much as 80% off. Not only do you get amazing products, but you also get them for a great price and with a great story behind it.
For readers who have never heard of it, what exactly is social entrepreneurship?
As I define it, a social entrepreneur is someone creating a sustainable business and making a difference in the world at the same time. It comes from the very foundation of your business; if you can harness positive elements from the very beginning, then you will have a tremendous amount of social impact and change. [Warren] Buffet and [Bill] Gates are giving back now, but imagine if they had started doing so when they created their businesses…
What are three companies I know that are doing this?
We didn’t reinvent the wheel. Patagonia (Outdoor Clothing) has been doing great for years. Tom Shoes is another example, obviously. The founder of my third example, Sonia Gallardo, is an American woman of Bolivian decent who noticed the dramatic amount of poverty in her native country. She also noticed the daily sacrifices that women had to make, including stealing or prostitution, just to get by. Sonia thought, “How can I create an sustainable income for these women and empower them at the same time?” She realized that all of them were master knitters, and created an amazing company called Knitting Peace. This allowed for Bolivian women to knit high-end fashion clothing: scarves, shawls, tops, and sweaters. Sonia sells them on her site and retail stores, and pays the women above fair trade rates while still keeping a profit. She literally changes the lives of these women and entire families with every piece of clothing she sells! When we put her products up on Roozt, they sold out within 24 hours.
It seems like, with Roozt, you have already established yourself as a strong social entrepreneur…
At the age of twenty-five, I find myself in the sweet spot of my life, believing whole-heartedly in what we’re doing and that social entrepreneurship is the way of the future for our entire country. Being a social entrepreneur is my life’s calling and Roozt is an amazing project, which we could not have done without our incredible team and the support of customers.
Before you became “social entrepreneur Brent Freeman,” who were you?
I grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area in a wonderfully supportive family of entrepreneurs and artists. I always knew I wanted to do something great in my career and life, so I feel blessed to have the chance with Roozt to make this dream a reality. My entire life I grew up with my dad telling me, “Life is sweetened by risk” and it wasn’t until I went to college and got involved with the entrepreneur program that I really began to understand what this meant… I work hard but I also believe in balancing my time with family and friends.
Did you have any idea that you wanted to create a business that would benefit the world at this point?
Not until the Entrepreneurship Club at USC brought in a speaker named Blake Mycoskie who was just starting a shoe company based on this crazy idea: you buy a pair of shoes, you give a pair of shoes.
We keep coming back to Tom Shoes!
I know. [laughs] His business model, as well as his perseverance, inspired me. While people were laughing at him back then, fast-forward a few years and TOMS was one of the only companies thriving in the middle of the financial meltdown.
The site has only been up-and-running for a few weeks, but it’s already a tremendous success with ten thousands of subscribers and counting. What can we expect to see as Roozt grows?
You can expect to see an amazing product from an inspiring company at an incredible price two to three days a week. We focus on fashion companies but that’s just the beginning – we also partner with businesses that create alarm clocks, gadgets, coffee, teas, flipflops, dog treats, skateboards, and sporting goods… there’s a little for everybody. Even if you’re not interested in the product we’re featuring, you should read the story behind it and we promise you’ll be inspired.
It’s a great way for social entrepreneurs to gain attention.
Listen, the story behind TOMS Shoes success is great, but its founder was well-connected in the Hollywood world already and was able to leverage their inspiring product, concept, and good connections to launch them quickly to success. For people who don’t have all that exposure but have just as inspiring of a story, how do they compete? Previously this was a complicated answer. Now, the answer is just Roozt. We are here to tell the world about inspiring companies and give an incentive for people to support them!
How can Daily BR!NK readers contribute to your success?
We’d love to invite your readers sign up for our Deal Alerts Emails at Roozt.com. Whenever we launch a new deal, we send an email to our subscribers telling them about the company and the info on that deal. If you like what you see, we’d love help in spreading the word. That’s how change starts. Once person and one company at a time.