New Narratives and the Need to Break Sh*t: A Conversation with Goodee Co-Founder Byron Peart, and Director of Trade & Business Development Molly Scott

We had a thrilling evening at The Shop April 12, 2023, hosting Byron Peart, co-founder of Goodee, and his Director of Trade & Business Development, Molly Scott. What went down? Imagine luscious wines, scintillating snacks, and an illuminating and inspiring conversation that featured game-changing insights about our emotional connections to spaces and the mindset to, as Goodee says, “make less, better.” 

In case you missed the action, here are the highlights from their conversation, moderated by Porter co-founder and VP of sales and marketing Kathleen Selke.

On the inspiration for and early days of Goodee:

Byron: “I’m a lover of fashion. I love style and design, and my brother and I have always led with that. Beauty and storytelling and narrative through brands, companies, and makers is what stimulates and inspires us. The home space was particularly interesting to us because, while clothes could really tell a lot about a person and their story and identity and expressive nature, the home takes on a whole other level of comfort and safety. It’s a reflection of yourself and your travels and all the shared experiences you have with people. So, we had this crazy idea to make an online marketplace for sustainable home goods that would tell a deep, deep story about how and why things are made, filling what we thought was a gap, and giving customers a destination that was truly trusted and honest and authentic, a place that quite honestly we were looking for ourselves. 

“We met our audience at the right time in 2020, with all that was happening with the social justice movement and George Floyd, and with us being a black-owned brand, and there were also all of these brands and makers from around the world, and our whole mission was to share a narrative around diverse designers. We were like, ‘let’s meet this moment,’ because as an individual it felt hard to be going through all that, but as a business it felt like, ‘what an opportunity, when we have people’s attention, to get our message across.’ It was an exterior force that you don’t wish for, but it did provide a moment for us to expand our voice.” 

On our connection to spaces and reimaging the return to office:

Byron: “We had a retreat and we asked everyone on the team: if your house is burning down, what are you saving: one thing.” The irony of the story was that nobody chose something because they spent ten thousand dollars on it. It was only items that had an emotional connection: something related to family, to love, an experience, a memory. When I think about the things around me that have value, that give me energy, it’s things that have sentimental value. So our objective right now is only to be telling stories and bringing product that can live in that same universe. We’re thinking about objects that tell a story in how they’re made, but then also their story carries on to their use. 

“Take this vase: there’s a whole story about it being made in Egypt and the raw materials that went into it and the craft preservation, but it takes on an entirely different story when it’s at the dinner table with you and your loved one, or when you pass it down to your daughter when she hates everything else that you own but that’s the one thing she wants to take to her university dorm. And that’s what we’re in the business of: emotional human connection. I think that’s where all the joy and the love and the beauty of the world is, and I just want to harness that.

“And that is so important when we are considering spaces. What is the story? What is the narrative of a space? How is this a living organism that changes with the people who are here and the experiences they have: their discovery, the surprise and the light, that layering, that texturing. That’s product, and when we mix all of those things together, when you have a narrative here, and also a narrative at your table, a narrative with these amazing cooks that were here today, that is the level of what we should be expecting. So, if you’re building an office, and you’re not delivering that, don’t be surprised when your staff says, ‘I’m not coming back to work.’ At the end of the day it’s incumbent on businesses to deliver more because people are expecting more. They’re like, ‘you know what, I have choices. I don’t have to just follow something because that’s the way that it was.’”  

On what’s next for Goodee and what we can do:

Molly: “The biggest thing is to have an open mind, a willingness to be educated. When I started, I didn’t know what a B-corp was. Part of the narrative we’re sharing with the client is that you don’t need something yesterday. And that’s hard because they’ll say, ‘yes I do,’ but unless it’s medication or a bandage, we really don’t. We’ve just become so used to having stuff thrown at our door the same day or the next day, and these things take time when they’re being made by hand. Another principle that we all live and believe at Goodee is less, but better. And so it’s that education, it’s stepping outside your comfort zone. My one ask is this: Do 1% better each day. It is an incredibly daunting task to turn on the news and look at everything that’s going on and think, ‘oh my gosh how do we even make a dent in fixing the state of everything?’ But if we do 1% better each day, collectively, that little bit means a lot. We need to break shit.” 

Byron: “Know your power. Whatever this way is that we’re doing things, it’s not working for everyone and we have to demand things at a different level now, like: ‘This is the way we want to work. This is how our environments need to be. Step up.’ We all have an opportunity in our small way in the businesses that we’re building, and we have to be hyper-disciplined about it. No compromise, this is how we do it. Because we know there is a better way. I’m a board member with B Lab. If I really had a dream, it’s that B-corps wouldn’t need to exist. That you wouldn’t need to get a certification to be known in the wider landscape as a good company. Like every company should be that. Wouldn’t that be amazing? That should be the new standard. Every company should have to deliver that. We’re being vigilant and it’s by design.”