Our impact has always mattered to us here at North Star. When we started the business in 2013 fresh out of university, we knew that all we had to offer was passion and a genuine desire to positively contribute to the coffee industry. To help push it forward and safeguard its future. At times, we have been called naïve - but we feel this optimistic outlook on the world has helped us to gently question the status quo of running a for-profit business.
Questioning the status quo has really defined the early years of our business. Getting to grips with the problems that lie within the coffee industry (from bean to cup) and understanding the dynamics and context of our supply chain has been in as much focus as defining our customer base and finalising our product and offer. There are an array of problems with how coffee as an industry works, many of them legacy issues from colonialism and the resulting power imbalances and exploitative procurement practices. Throw climate change into the mix and the facts are that we are going to have to work very hard to try and turn things around, to remove the question mark that genuinely exists over coffee’s future.
The North Star mission from day one has been to build a coffee industry that works for everyone. Not only because coffee is such an important part of our lives, but because it is a no brainer if we are to build a business for the long term. This purpose has directed our journey to date, so much so that our strategy for growth has been written through the lens of our strategy for impact (captured in our Theory of Change which you can see later on in this document). Making a positive difference to the world around us has been our guiding North Star right from the get go, so why become a B Corp I hear you ask?
We first became aware of B Corp in 2015. We really admired the guidance that the framework provided but we did feel a degree of suspicion given our understanding of certification schemes in the coffee industry. However, as the years have ticked by, as our team has grown, as our potential for impact has increased, it felt like a natural step to submit our application in order to safeguard our purpose as the business continues to evolve.
We received notification of our B Corp status in July 2022 - just as we took some time out of the business to welcome our daughter into the world! This initial impact report is therefore a little late to the party, but nevertheless, I am delighted to be making it available to you all so you can not only take a look at the inner workings of North Star, but most importantly so that you can hear about what we intend to focus on for the year ahead. The past 12 months have been the most challenging of our 10 years in business so far. The cost of living crisis and the continuing impacts of the global pandemic have really made their presence felt in our industry and we have had to continuously come back to what we are here to do, at times to give us the strength to carry on. But there have been some hugely positive highlights for us too in that time which I look forward to sharing with you all.
This report is the first in what will be an annual publication moving forwards in which we will critically and honestly review how effectively we are achieving this mission alongside the impact we have closer to home on our team, our customers and on how we govern our business.
All of this is important to us because our idea of success rests not on where we get to, but on how we get there.
Hols x (CEO, co-founder)