CLIENT STORIES

North Star Coffee’s ‘Business for Good’ Strategy

About North Star
Hols and Krag

While Fairtrade has made positive changes to the coffee industry, it has limitations. Even with Fairtrade prices, farmers often aren’t being paid enough to make their businesses viable. This has led to a huge risk in the survival of the industry as more people are leaving coffee farming and young people are not taking up these careers.

In 2013 Holly Kragiopoulos (known to all as Hols) and her husband Alex (Krag) Co-Founded North Star Coffee Roasters, a company driven by the possibility of changing the coffee industry for the better where ethics and quality run throughout the business. They have established a model where they pay more than Fairtrade prices and take each farmer’s individual circumstances into account in terms of their costs of production to help make their businesses more viable. 

Since then they have grown the business to a team of 25 with wholesale accounts across the UK, an online shop, an academy as well as their own coffee shop. In addition to this they have established a project in El Salvador where they are supporting a coffee producer to invest in their infrastructure and they also work with Gente Del Futuro to support young people and women to enter the industry.

CLIENT STORIES

North Star Coffee’s ‘Business for Good’ Strategy

Hols and Krag
About North Star

While Fairtrade has made positive changes to the coffee industry, it has limitations. Even with Fairtrade prices, farmers often aren’t being paid enough to make their businesses viable. This has led to a huge risk in the survival of the industry as more people are leaving coffee farming and young people are not taking up these careers.

In 2013 Holly Kragiopoulos (known to all as Hols) and her husband Alex (Krag) Co-Founded North Star Coffee Roasters, a company driven by the possibility of changing the coffee industry for the better where ethics and quality run throughout the business. They have established a model where they pay more than Fairtrade prices and take each farmer’s individual circumstances into account in terms of their costs of production to help make their businesses more viable. 

Since then they have grown the business to a team of 25 with wholesale accounts across the UK, an online shop, an academy as well as their own coffee shop. In addition to this they have established a project in El Salvador where they are supporting a coffee producer to invest in their infrastructure and they also work with Gente Del Futuro to support young people and women to enter the industry.

The Challenge

Hols wanted North Star to become a Certified B Corp. But it was more than that. Despite their incredible achievements, having got eight years in, they knew they needed help to put more structure in place and develop a strategy to grow, and they wanted Business for Good to define that growth.

“Our journey as owners so far had felt slightly frantic and unplanned as we jumped from one opportunity to the next, piling more pressure on ourselves to just make it work. We were at a point where we needed to answer the problem of how we would continue to grow and support our team.”
The Challenge

Hols wanted North Star to become a Certified B Corp. But it was more than that. Despite their incredible achievements, having got eight years in, they knew they needed help to put more structure in place and develop a strategy to grow, and they wanted Business for Good to define that growth.

“Our journey as owners so far had felt slightly frantic and unplanned as we jumped from one opportunity to the next, piling more pressure on ourselves to just make it work. We were at a point where we needed to answer the problem of how we would continue to grow and support our team.”

The Decision

With a background in sustainable development and experience of successfully running a purpose driven business, she wanted to go deeper than working with a consultant through the B Corp Assessment as a checklist. 

“We wanted to work with somebody who could support us much more holistically. To develop a strategy that was focusing on Business for Good throughout every aspect of how we worked to make sure the time we were putting into getting B Corp Certification was going to be money well spent.”

She chose to work with Make Impact because she wanted to:

“Work with someone I felt comfortable with checking my thinking and challenging me. It was evident that your previous experience was going to introduce us to new ways of thinking. I was really attracted to the prospect of learning something new and in developing my understanding of how we do business in a way that contributes not just to our industry, but also to the conversation of businesses acting for good.”

The Decision

With a background in sustainable development and experience of successfully running a purpose driven business, she wanted to go deeper than working with a consultant through the B Corp Assessment as a checklist. 

“We wanted to work with somebody who could support us much more holistically. To develop a strategy that was focusing on Business for Good throughout every aspect of how we worked to make sure the time we were putting into getting B Corp Certification was going to be money well spent.”

She chose to work with Make Impact because she wanted to:

“Work with someone I felt comfortable with checking my thinking and challenging me. It was evident that your previous experience was going to introduce us to new ways of thinking. I was really attracted to the prospect of learning something new and in developing my understanding of how we do business in a way that contributes not just to our industry, but also to the conversation of businesses acting for good.”

The Process

Make Impact worked alongside Hols to support her every step of the way. We guided her through her journey in a series of meetings and workshops, listening to her aspirations, framing the opportunities, and providing cohesive frameworks, knowledge and expertise to enable her to achieve her goals. We started with the vision before moving on to the design to make it happen. 

Vision

We worked together to frame the company in a Business for Good context and explore the opportunities and challenges before engaging key stakeholders in workshops and interviews. Through this process we created a shared and inspiring vision of the future for North Star which included purpose, impact, ambition for  growth, the team, operations, premises and culture.

“It has been a challenge at times, particularly to step out of our ‘go to’ perspectives and understandings. But having an outside perspective on what we do has been a huge advantage and will be instrumental in the positioning of our company in the years to come. From a personal perspective as a key decision maker it has been super refreshing to have someone gently challenge me to either confirm my gut feeling, or show me another way of thinking.”

The Process

Make Impact worked alongside Hols to support her every step of the way. We guided her through her journey in a series of meetings and workshops, listening to her aspirations, framing the opportunities, and providing cohesive frameworks, knowledge and expertise to enable her to achieve her goals. We started with the vision before moving on to the design to make it happen. 

Vision

We worked together to frame the company in a Business for Good context and explore the opportunities and challenges before engaging key stakeholders in workshops and interviews. Through this process we created a shared and inspiring vision of the future for North Star which included purpose, impact, ambition for  growth, the team, operations, premises and culture.

“It has been a challenge at times, particularly to step out of our ‘go to’ perspectives and understandings. But having an outside perspective on what we do has been a huge advantage and will be instrumental in the positioning of our company in the years to come. From a personal perspective as a key decision maker it has been super refreshing to have someone gently challenge me to either confirm my gut feeling or show me another way of thinking.”

Design

With a clear vision for North Star we worked through designing their impact model, their people plan and B Corp Certification to underpin the strategy.  

Impact

We helped Hols to map out and explore North Star’s impact and their business model through Make Impact’s Theory of Change Framework. The framework helps companies to gain a better understanding of their impact, adapt and improve their model, and define impact measures and business KPIs to help effectively drive change. The Theory of Change is a roadmap for their business and also provides a structure for their impact management and reporting. 

“It’s been the most impactful part of the work. Setting up with a purpose, as a business, we got to where we are with an idea in mind of what we are here to do. But being asked the questions in the way that they were asked, looking at how our activities deliver outcomes, and the solution, it put everything to test in a way that’s designed to really make sure we’re being as efficient and effective as possible.  It has led to a solution where we are confident in talking about what we have been doing, so that we can measure and be answerable for our actions. It is a roadmap for growth and further impact that is key to our strategy.”
Design

With a clear vision for North Star we worked through designing their impact model, their people plan and B Corp Certification to underpin the strategy.  

Impact

We helped Hols to map out and explore North Star’s impact and their business model through Make Impact’s Theory of Change Framework. The framework helps companies to gain a better understanding of their impact, adapt and improve their model, and define impact measures and business KPIs to help effectively drive change. The Theory of Change is a roadmap for their business and also provides a structure for their impact management and reporting. 

“It’s been the most impactful part of the work. Setting up with a purpose, as a business, we got to where we are with an idea in mind of what we are here to do. But being asked the questions in the way that they were asked, looking at how our activities deliver outcomes, and the solution, it put everything to test in a way that’s designed to really make sure we’re being as efficient and effective as possible.  It’s led to a solution where we are confident in talking about what we have been doing, so that we can measure and be answerable for our actions. It is a roadmap for growth and further impact that is key to our strategy.”

People

Not only is Hols committed to creating a positive impact for the industry as a whole, she is passionate about having happy and engaged staff. Her team are highly motivated and they have a great work culture. However, she wanted to provide more structured benefits, progression and empower them in their roles. 

We worked together to engage the team from the start in developing North Star’s vision and Hols has included them and their ideas throughout the development of the strategy. Responsibilities for delivering the strategy have been allocated to the team and are being aligned through both their job descriptions and KPIs.

We also brought in our People and Purpose Lead to interview key staff, review North Star’s HR processes and develop a People Plan with recommendations for the short, medium and long term.  Hols has been quick to implement significant changes that have revolutionised engagement and the way they work including; redesigning their onboarding process, carrying out role, salary and share distribution updates, implementing training and progression plans, and updating their employee performance review process.

“We’ve always had a very strong team and been very close. But they feel genuinely so much more looked after, heard and empowered to make decisions after the work that we’ve done with Make Impact.”

People

Not only is Hols committed to creating a positive impact for the industry as a whole, she is passionate about having happy and engaged staff. Her team are highly motivated and they have a great work culture. However, she wanted to provide more structured benefits, progression and empower them in their roles. 

We worked together to engage the team from the start in developing North Star’s vision and Hols has included them and their ideas throughout the development of the strategy. Responsibilities for delivering the strategy have been allocated to the team and are being aligned through both their job descriptions and KPIs.

We also brought in our People and Purpose Lead to interview key staff, review North Star’s HR processes and develop a People Plan with recommendations for the short, medium and long term.  Hols has been quick to implement significant changes that have revolutionised engagement and the way they work including; redesigning their onboarding process, carrying out role, salary and share distribution updates, implementing training and progression plans, and updating their employee performance review process.

“We’ve always had a very strong team and been very close. But they feel genuinely so much more looked after, heard and empowered to make decisions after the work that we’ve done with Make Impact.”

B Corp Certification

Becoming a Certified B Corp has always been an ambition for North Star and they have aligned the business with these principles from the start.

Image by Shem Obara (@shem.obara)

Hols had made good progress with the baseline assessment but benefited from support to get set up on the right track, interpret the questions, and develop their Impact Business Model. We then worked together to prioritise impact improvements that would align with the strategy, provide quick wins and deliver multiple levels of value across the business.

“It was really eye opening to see how it works, how the actual assessment is weighted, the way the different aspects of it all fit together and how to  maximise what you do within each section. I had probably filled it out two or three times before we started on this piece of work and it’s really easy to get lost in just answering the 200 questions that come up. It saved a massive amount of time, and has given us more confidence in actually pressing go and submitting the assessment.”

B Corp Certification

Becoming a Certified B Corp has always been an ambition for North Star and they have aligned the business with these principles from the start.

Image by Shem Obara (@shem.obara)

Hols had made good progress with the baseline assessment but benefited from support to get set up on the right track, interpret the questions, and develop their Impact Business Model. We then worked together to prioritise impact improvements that would align with the strategy, provide quick wins and deliver multiple levels of value across the business.

“It was really eye opening to see how it works, how the actual assessment is weighted, the way the different aspects of it all fit together and how to  maximise what you do within each section. I had probably filled it out two or three times before we started on this piece of work and it’s really easy to get lost in just answering the 200 questions that come up. It saved a massive amount of time, and has given us more confidence in actually pressing go and submitting the assessment.”

Plan

The strategy was then shared with key members of staff in a workshop for them to provide input and jointly plan how to implement it. Reframing their work could have led to friction within the team but because Hols had involved them from the start there was significant buy-in and engagement. They can all see how the company’s growth is linked to its impact and how they each contribute to realising North Star’s purpose which is highly motivating.

All of this work was then brought together to establish a Strategy document that defines their vision, growth plans, a roadmap to implement it and KPIs to help drive and measure it.

“It becomes everything that you live by and what the company is here to do.
Plan

The strategy was then shared with key members of staff in a workshop for them to provide input and jointly plan how to implement it. Reframing their work could have led to friction within the team but because Hols had involved them from the start there was significant buy-in and engagement. They can all see how the company’s growth is linked to its impact and how they each contribute to realising North Star’s purpose which is highly motivating.

All of this work was then brought together to establish a Strategy document that defines their vision, growth plans, a roadmap to implement it and KPIs to help drive and measure it.

“It becomes everything that you live by and what the company is here to do.

The Outcome

“It’s totally changed my mindset and it got us thinking about our responsibility in a very different way. And not just to our purpose, but to our people which has spurred on so many things that we’ve actioned really very quickly.”

Hols has really embraced the work and made huge progress. In just 5 months she has:

  • Established a company strategy with clear growth plans
  • Created a framework to increase their impact and deliver their purpose
  • Set up KPIs and systems to deliver their strategy
  • Increased staff engagement
  • Revolutionised their employee package
  • Put plans in place for the continued development of their people and systems 
  • Submitted their application for B Corp Certification 
  • Rebranded their packaging and the coffee shop
  • Identified opportunities for financial investment in the future
  • Increased their confidence in representing the business
The Outcome

“It’s totally changed my mindset and it got us thinking about our responsibility in a very different way. And not just to our purpose, but to our people which has spurred on so many things that we’ve actioned really very quickly.”

Hols has really embraced the work and made huge progress. In just 5 months she has:

  • Established a company strategy with clear growth plans
  • Created a framework to increase their impact and deliver their purpose
  • Set up KPIs and systems to deliver their strategy
  • Increased staff engagement
  • Revolutionised their employee package
  • Put plans in place for the continued development of their people and systems 
  • Submitted their application for B Corp Certification 
  • Rebranded their packaging and the coffee shop
  • Identified opportunities for financial investment in the future
  • Increased their confidence in representing the business

When asked what advice she would give to other businesses considering working with Make Impact, she says take the plunge and put the time aside to do the work. It will save so much in the long run and it is so vital in uniting your team.”

The future is looking very exciting for North Star and we can’t wait to see their story develop. 

____________________________

More stories coming soon.

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If you want to find out how we can help your business, contact us using the form below to book an initial chat. If you are ready to work with us, we will then send you a detailed proposal and we can go from there….





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      DISCOVER OUR SERVICES

      EXPLORE

      Choose Explore if you want to learn about Business for Good, engage your team in deciding what it looks like for your company and get a plan for your first steps.

      STRATEGY

      Choose Strategy if you are ready for Business for Good to define your growth, and want to build a roadmap to achieve your vision and business goals.

      CORP CERTIFICATION

      Choose B Corp Certification if you want support to become a Certified B Corp and join the leaders driving a global movement of business as a force for good.

      IMPACT PROJECTS

      Choose Impact Projects if you have a specific project (e.g. purpose, charity partnerships, impact reports or net zero) you want delivered. 

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