Success, naturally


“Success means never letting the competition define you. Instead you have to define yourself based on a point of view you care deeply about,” Tom Chappell, Tom’s of Maine, said.

That’s the story of Tom and Kate Chappell’s wildly successful personal products company. Basically, they created the market for natural toothpastes, deodorants and more.

Most of the world’s most successful companies were started by someone who was scratching his or her own itch. Clif Bar founder Gary Erickson took a bite of an energy bar and thought, “I could do better than this.”

Ditto Nike. Track coach Bill Bowerman wanted to give his athletes an edge. With a waffle iron and some rubber, he created a product that changed athletics forever.

Tom and Kate scratched their own itch. In their search for non-toxic products, they realized that if they wanted them, they’d have to make them themselves.

Now, half a century later, they’re a successful, sustainable mainstream company with over $45 million in sales annually. While Tom and Kate sold their company to Colgate for $100 million, they continue to run the company day to day.

And they run based on the same principles with which they started. Tom’s of Maine does too many wonderful things to include, but goodness is baked in. For instance, they pay their employees to volunteer, they donate 10 percent of pre-tax profits to human or environmental charities, they don’t test on animals and their products don’t contain artificial colors, flavors, fragrances or preservatives.

When success and sustainability join forces, the sky’s the limit. Go ahead, scratch that itch.

About The Author

Sweet connects all the dots of Shannon’s life, combining her passion for the environment and human rights with her love of travel and women. Obsessed with finding a way to make the economics of doing good in the world work, Shannon strives to create a successful and green business run by happy employees for blissed-out guests. It’s her favorite kind of situation—a win-win-win. Recently, Shannon was named one of the “Advocate Magazine’s 40 under 40″, Go Mag‘s “Women We Love” and the International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association‘s Travel Innovator of 2010. In her spare time, Shannon enjoys sleeping, hiking, building treasures from trash, chasing her little bear and burning brush. She lives in the Sierra Nevada foothills with her son, Theron aka little bear, and dog, Reggie.

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