An Interview from the Sustainable Brands Conference ’09 with Kellie A. McElhaney, PhD, UC Berkeley
PART FOUR: Teach Them Well & Let Them Lead The Way
Now, if you’ve read the other three parts of this blogpost, you already can see why I’m a huge fan of Kellie McElhaney. Yet, perhaps the biggest reason Kellie is a superstar to me is because she is the rockstar mother of two impressive little girls, who are both part of the same generation I am proud to consider myself a part of – the Millenials. Also know as Generation Y, the Millennials are the largest generation in American history. Born between 1978 and 2000, we are 95 million strong, compared to the 78 million Baby Boomers. A new book, Generation We, explains the emerging power of our Millennial Generation, and shows how WE (and older people who think the way WE do) are poised to change our nation and our world for the better. Take a look at this video or visit www.gen-we.org to see how WE are “politically, socially, and philosophically independent, and are spearheading a period of sweeping change in America and around the world”.
Kellie’s older daughter Isabel (who is nine years old, but Kellie says if you ask her she will tell you she is 9 & 7/8ths, ha ha) is quickly becoming Lioness material, in her own efforts to lead the charge of Gen-We. Little Miss Isabel was very disturbed when a tank-top that her mother had ordered from J. Crew arrived in two large cardboard boxes!!! She decided to take a picture of the thoughtless packaging and include it with her perturbed letter to the CEO of J. Crew, Mickey Drexler. Get excited for this one ladies and gentleman. Little Miss Izzy is a sock-knocker-offer!
(Send this to Mickey Drexler, Okay mama?)
I have something to tell you about J-Crew. Sorry, it's not the best thing about your company. But, your company is great.
Do you know the story called " The Giving Tree"? Well, in the story, that one tree gives up everything to the boy. Everything. Apples, wood, branches, and even the tree stump. Trees' are very valuable, and if we use them like the boy did, we won't have any. None. Zip. Nada. You probably don't get my point yet, but that's what I'm about to explain.
Packaging isn't the hardest thing. As a matter of fact, it's pretty easy. But sometimes you have to give the easier things more thought. And packaging, is an example. When you are packaging your products, what do you think about? Do you just do it, and get it done? Or do you stop and think how you can make it even better? A big company like J-Crew affects the world in many ways.
My mom got a tiny shirt, in two big boxes. A way to make that issue better, is this: when you package your next products, think about this: Instead of giving her two, give her one. Or you can find a box that is big enough the product fits, but small enough it doesn't have enough room to get up and walk around.
I think if you try this, you will end up not spending as much money on boxes, as well as gas for your trucks, not killing as many trees and getting better feedback from customers, kids, mail men, anybody.
Kellie's* daughter, Isabel
P.S. I am nine, please respond and, don't take this personally, because it's not only you.
* Kellie McElhaney, author of JUST GOOD BUSINESS
This is the photo Isabel took of the J. Crew packaging that the clothing company used to send one tank top to her mother. She included it in the letter that she sent to J. Crew’s CEO, Mickey Drexler.
Isabel (right, age 9) and her little sister Juliana McElhaney (age 7).
Now, first of all, I’d like to comment on how impressed I am by the fact that this little girl knows the difference between affect and effect! You can tell she’s a real smarty. And secondly, how about that letter?! I wish we could get her in front of Mr. Drexler personally so she could put him on the spot and ask, “Do you get it yet?” Haha!
When Kellie found out that I wanted to post a whole separate piece on her daughter, she asked me to be sure to not give her too much credit for Isabel. “She really is just a product of her generation. She learns a lot just from growing up in today’s world” said Kelly. A true Millenial, and truly one to follow. I’ll be sure to loop you in as I do.
Having said that, Isabel has still not received any response from Mickey, though she did get two standardized and faceless responses from J. Crew telling her to let “them” know if there is anything else “they” can help her with – to which she responded verbally to her mother, “Yeah! Can you help get me a real response and improve your packaging, hello!?!?!”.
They decided to send Mickey a copy of The Giving Tree, and a copy of Kellie’s book, Just Good Business, The Strategic Guide to Aligning Corporate Responsibility & Brand. Sounds like J. Crew isn’t ready to engage, but hopefully one day… they will. Until then, it’s our job to keep inviting them into the dialogue. I’m so razzled by Isabel’s work, and am making it my goal to do something of similar value this week. However, I might let myself consider this blog enough for now! Time to catch a few Z’s. Let me know what you decide to take on. I can’t wait to hear about it!