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Benefit Corporation Legislation Effective in Three Additional States: Record 32 Companies Register in Oregon

January 2, 2014 -- Courtesy of B Lab. Today, Oregon, Nevada and Rhode Island join the growing list of states that have benefit corporation legislation in effect. To date 20 states have passed benefit corporation laws with over 450 companies already utilizing this innovative corporate form that allows business to consider society and the environment in addition to profit. In 2014, B Lab will continue to push for passage of the legislation in 10 additional states.

Today, not only do we see the largest number of states with simultaneous benefit corporation legislation effective days, but a record of thirty-two (32) companies in Oregon have become benefit companies. Oregon’s law allows all business forms to follow the benefit corporation guidelines.

“Oregon is a hotbed of innovation”, says Jay Coen Gilbert co founder of B Lab, the nonprofit behind the benefit corporation legislation. “It has the second highest concentration of Certified B Corporations in the country and today, thanks to the leadership of the community of Certified B Corps, has registered the highest number of benefit companies on the law's first effective date.”

Benefit corporations are a new kind of corporation legally required to: 1) have a corporate purpose to create a material positive impact on society and the environment; 2) expand fiduciary duty to require consideration of the interests of workers, community and the environment; and 3) publicly report annually on its overall social and environmental performance using a comprehensive, credible, independent, and transparent third party standard.

First adopters include Certified B Corporations strategic and creative agency Metropolitan Group, sustainably driven global asset management company Equilibrium Capital, home improvement contractor Neil Kelly, full service public accounting firm TriLibrium, sustainable urban delivery and advertising service B-Line, online collaborative project management platform FMYI, reusable feminine products company GladRags, community supported innovation center Ingenuity Innovation Center, marketing consulting firm ROSEN, law firm Immix Law Group PC, and, Good Clean Love, who is a natural and organic intimacy products company. These businesses bring the total number of benefit corporations to over 450 companies nationwide.

Portland State Univeristy Alumni Profile: Tracy Puhl

August 5, 2013 -- Written by Jyoti Roy and originally posted here. Portland State Alumna Tracy Puhl ‘09 is only a few years older than the company she owns. GladRags, an eco-friendly menstrual product company, celebrated its 20th birthday on Tuesday, July 30 at Holocene. GladRags was founded by Brenda Mallory (pictured at left with Puhl at the GladRags birthday bash) and has grown from a home-based business to its own space in inner SE Portland that distributes cloth pads to women all over the world. Last year, GladRags became a Certified Benefit Corporation, which means that they meet rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency. As a values-driven business, it was important to Puhl that her business become certified by the nonprofit B Lab to show support for this new global movement in business beyond the bottom line.

Recently named Portland’s Young Entrepeneur of the Year by the Small Business Association, Tracy also serves on the board of Women Entrepreneurs of Oregon and volunteers at the local chapter of Dress for Success. Winning the award was really exciting to Tracy, because, she says, “I had taken ownership of the company after being there only a few years, and had no business training whatsoever. It was great validation that with hard work (and a love of being constantly challenged!), anyone can own a business.”

Originally Tracy had planned to become a social worker, and earned her BA in Social Science from Portland State in 2009. However, she says that while it does not seem like it would be particularly useful in business, “understanding how people think and what motivates them can be pretty powerful!” Having also focused on Women Studies and Gender Studies in her studies also played a big role in her success with GladRags. “Overall,” she says, “I think PSU helped me develop critical thinking and analysis skills that have served me well.”

Born and raised in Portland, PSU was a great fit for Puhl who did not want to leave the city when she began college. She had taken a year off after high school and was used to working. “I liked that I was able to work throughout school because there were so many night/weekend courses.”

Going from a customer service representative to owner of the business in only a few years is quite an achievement. Tracy’s advice for success in a small company? “Always look for extra ways to help. If you have a coworker struggling with a project, or your boss is stressing about something, ask how you can help them out. You'll learn way more about other parts of the company this way. Also - be proactive. Actively look for ways to improve the processes in your workplace (look for redundancies, wasted time or energy, etc). Don't just point out that something isn't working; have a potential solution (or two!).”

What about those interested in one day owning their own business? “Ask for help! There are people and organizations out there who want to help you, and who have the knowledge (and sometimes funding!) to be powerful assets to your growing business. Find them, ask questions, and never stop learning."

GladRags Owner Tracy Puhl Awarded Young Entrepreneur of the Year

May 23, 2013 -- During a luncheon at the Portland Art Museum on May 20, 2013, GladRags owner Tracy Puhl was awarded Young Entrepreneur of the Year by the Portland Small Business Administration. A total of eight small businesses from Oregon and SW Washington were honored during the event, as well as two champions of small business and 11 lending institutions.

The Small Business Week event included comments by Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber, SBA Regional Administrator Calvin Goings, SBA Regional Advocate Jennifer Clark, and SBA Acting District Director Robert DuCote.

“Right here in Oregon we have over 335,000 small businesses that open their doors daily – providing employment, high quality products, and services to customers both here and in foreign countries,” said DuCote. “Our entrepreneurs and small business owners... are one of our state's greatest strengths and it's our privilege to recognize some of them here today."

Puhl, a Portland native and 2009 graduate of Portland State University, received the award for Young Entrepreneur of the Year for her work with GladRags. Under Puhl's leadership, in 2012 GladRags launched a new ecommerce website, increased distributor sales, and became certified as a Benefit Corporation.

“I am honored to be named the Young Entrepreneur of the Year by my hometown,” said Puhl. “Portland is a great place for young people to achieve their entrepreneurial goals, and I am grateful to the many organizations who have supported my growth as a small business owner, including the Portland Business Outreach Program, Women Entrepreneurs of Oregon, and the Small Business Administration.” 

GladRags Selected for SBA Emerging Leaders Initiative for Small Businesses

May 05, 2013 -- Along with 14 other small businesses in the Portland area, GladRags has been selected to participate in the Small Business Administration's Emerging Leaders Initiative, which held its first session last week in Beaverton, OR.

The SBA Emerging Leaders Initiative is a federal training program for executives of high-potential businesses poised for growth. The initiative provides the extensive training, networking, and motivation necessary to build sustainable businesses and promote local economic development. Nationally, the program is administered in 27 cities, with a total of over 200 participants from the local business communities.

The approximately 1,300 previous participants in the SBA Emerging Leaders Initiative have achieved impressive results. “Emerging Leaders has a proven track record of helping small businesses in underserved communities,” said SBA Administrator Karen Mills. “Graduates of the program have increased their revenue, created jobs and helped drive local economic growth in their communities.” Collectively, they have shown significant employment growth with over 900 new full-time employees and have accessed over $26 million in new financing since graduating the program.

“We are very excited to be a part of this unique program,” said GladRags owner Tracy Puhl. “With the tools we gain from the Emerging Leaders Initiative, we expect to accelerate our company's growth and continue to support the local Portland economy.”

Nonprofit Matches Job Seekers, Employers

Published March 08, 2013 by Saundra Sorenson in the Hillsboro Tribune. Full article available here.

As the state unemployment rate continues to hover around 8 percent, one Hillsboro-based job resource center continues to partner with employers throughout the Portland metro area, providing training and support to clients who have had an even harder time than most securing steady employment.

Since 1986, private nonprofit Abilities at Work has supported job-seekers with developmental disabilities by providing job skills training, job placement and ongoing support. With state and federal funding, AAW secures prospective employers through what executive Gerald Pearce compares to a “cold-calling” approach. Each job is created around the individual client and his specific abilities and needs.

AAW is licensed to receive potential employee referrals from throughout Washington, Clackamas and Multnomah counties, Pearce explained. AAW’s team of employment developers and jobs specialists then profile each individual.

"We need to get to know the individuals first,” Pearce says. “We try to find out what their interests are, how the individual learns. (The program) has to be very individualized for the person for us to be successful.”

AAW’s 37 employer partners include Fred Meyer, Forest Grove Library, McMenamins, Nike and the Oregon Zoo.

"We have to be straight up about what the individuals we serve can do,” Pearce says.

One of the biggest hurdles, according to Pearce, is most clients’ relative lack of job experience in the community. At its sites in Hillsboro and southeast Portland, AAW provides classes on job skills that range from proper dress to punctuality to appropriate social behavior at the workplace. Classes often include mock job interviews and group discussion of past work experiences.

After that, Pearce said, “our job is to match the right person to the right job.”

AAW currently serves about 95 clients whose professional responsibilities include custodial duties and assembly in a manufacturing setting. Once an employee is placed, AAW provides support on a case by case basis. For some clients, that means members of the AAW staff will stay with a client for his entire shift during his first weeks on the job, until the AAW can comfortably “fade away” as the employee grows more confident in his new workplace. Other employees require only periodic check-ins from AAW staff.

"Giving the individuals AAW serves the opportunity to succeed in a real employment setting, and to be productive, active members of our society is so important to the health of our community,” said Tracy Puhl, owner of GladRags in southeast Portland. Her business, which specializes in eco-friendly feminine hygiene products, has been an AAW employer since 1999.

"We have had between one and four adults with developmental disabilities come in to do packaging for us one afternoon a week,” Puhl said. “Now we have a more independent individual whose employment specialist checks in at the end of his shift. She works with him both on improving his on-the-job skills and his communication and social skills with us.”

Puhl has found her AAW employees to be an asset to her business. She has also been impressed with how AAW employment specialists have ensured that employers such as Puhl effectively utilize employees’ skills.

Job-seekers who require ongoing supervision are sometimes placed in an administrative office at Kaiser Permanente medical center in downtown Portland, where they work side by side with AAW staff who can provide ongoing direction on clerical tasks, such as collating papers.

Pearce describes AAW’s office at Kaiser Permanente as “an enclave” where some employees have worked for 20 years or more. Other AAW clients at this office develop skills that enable them to then take “more independent” jobs elsewhere with less supervision.

AAW’s success stories are many: One client suffered acute issues with anxiety that affected his work attendance record; with AAW’s support, he has been able to hold down a job at a local restaurant. AAW worked with a job seeker whose short-term memory problems proved a challenge during job training — by creating a unique system of signs, as well as an instructional picture book, AAW helped the client settle into a regular routine at McMenamins Grand Lodge in Forest Grove. Another AAW -supported employee has worked assembly at Forest Medical Products, Inc. in Hillsboro for the past 15 years.

Although grateful for AAW’s ongoing partnerships with more than three dozen Portland-area employers, Pearce acknowledged that in a time of economic downturn, it is difficult to persuade companies to take a chance on a new work program. But forging new partnerships is essential to AAW.

"The individuals we serve have a lot of ability and a lot of opportunity for growth,” Pearce said, “but that doesn’t happen unless there’s a business willing to give us that opportunity.”

GladRags Participates in Exciting New Trend at Natural Products Expo West 

February 13, 2013 -- GladRags is proud to invite retailers, press, and other expo attendees to visit their booth #3359 at Natural Products Expo West this year. This annual tradeshow is one of the largest and longest-running natural products gatherings in the United States and attracted a record number of attendees last year. The 2013 expo runs from March 8th through 11th at the Anaheim Convention Center in California.

In 2012, Benefit Corporations (B Corporations) were recognized as one of the new and exciting trends at Natural Products Expo West. This year, GladRags will be one of 40 certified B Corporations exhibiting. Certified B Corporations represent approximately 2% of overall exhibitors at the expo.

Certified B Corporations meet rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, legally expand their corporate responsibilities to include consideration of stakeholder interests, and build collective voice through the power of the unifying B Corporation brand. GladRags has lent its voice to support B Corporation legislation in Oregon, where the company is based.

“We are proud to be a part of this exciting industry trend to show our commitment to a higher standard of environmental and social sustainability,” says GladRags owner Tracy Puhl. “We hope that certified Benefit Corporations continue to receive the recognition they deserve, both in tradeshows like the Natural Products Expo and in state legislation.”

Founded in Portland, Oregon in 1993, GladRags has been a leader in environmentally-friendly products with a message of female empowerment for almost 20 years. GladRags offers natural and reusable menstrual products, laundering supplies, and value kits. GladRags sells washable cotton pads and natural rubber and medical-grade silicone menstrual cups online and in stores nationwide.

GladRags Certified as a Benefit Corporation 

September 13, 2012 -- GladRags today announced their certification as Benefit Corporation as they join the more than 600 Certified Benefit Corporations (B Corporations) from over 60 industries, representing a diverse multi-billion dollar marketplace. Certified B Corporations meet rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, legally expand their corporate responsibilities to include consideration of stakeholder interests, and build collective voice through the power of the unifying B Corporation brand.

Founded in 1993, GladRags has been a leader in environmentally-friendly products with a message of female empowerment for almost 20 years. Recently, GladRags was named as a finalist out of 250 nominees for Green America's first People & Planet Awards, which recognizes small businesses with an exceptional commitment to the community as well as the environment. GladRags offers natural and reusable menstrual products, laundering supplies, and value kits. GladRags sells washable cotton pads and natural rubber or medical-grade silicone menstrual cups online and in stores nationwide.

“We're proud to be a certified B Corporation,” says GladRags owner Tracy Puhl. “Having products that serve people and the planet is not enough: we want to 'do right' by the world in every aspect of doing business. We became a B Corp to challenge ourselves to continually improve and to ensure that we continue to maintain our core values of environmental and social justice as our business grows.”

To learn more about GladRags' B Corporation certification, please visit http://www.bcorporation.net/GladRags

GladRags Partners with Empower Women in Africa

Sustainable feminine hygiene product leader GladRags partners with EWA to bring educational and economic opportunities to girls and women in rural Africa

January 25, 2012 – GladRags today announced their partnership with Empower Women in Africa. The combined goal is to bring educational and economic opportunities to girls and women in rural Africa.

GladRags, founded in Portland, OR in 1993, was conceived from the inspiration of the simple utility, earth-friendliness, and comfort of cloth diapers. GladRags quickly grew, and today remains a small company with a big presence, committed to promoting positive attitudes toward menstruation and making the environment a safer, cleaner place.

Empower Women in Africa was founded in February of 2011 with the vision of providing a pathway to education for girls throughout rural Africa. To accomplish their mission, EWA provides scholarships to girls living in poverty and showing promise in the classroom, and by providing reusable cloth menstrual pads so there is not a struggle every month to find sanitary products with limited funds. GladRags will be the exclusive pad donation partner for EWA in 2012.

“In our first year, we have been able to provide scholarships to five girls at Andara Combined School in Namibia,” explains Lori Schippers, founder of EWA. “These scholarships cover every cost that comes along with their education from their school fees, school uniform and even a food stipend for their families when good grades are achieved to encourage the family to take an interest in their daughter’s education.”

Schippers hopes the partnership will double their pad program in its second year, opening up more time to focus on their scholarship program. “The recipients have ranged from an orphanage with Show Mercy International, schools, conferences and after school clubs. We’re very excited about this partnership and look forward to helping make a big difference in the lives of African girls and women.”

“EWA’s work has been instrumental in getting over 2200 cloth menstrual pads to girls in Namibia and Uganda,” says Tracy Puhl of GladRags. “We are proud to partner with EWA to help bring economic and educational opportunities to women and girls in rural Namibia. We believe that education is the key to improving the lives of women and girls in impoverished communities.”

Click here to purchase an Empower Kit.

ABOUT Empower Women in Africa and the GladRags Partnership:

It was barely over a year ago that Empower Women in Africa’s founder, Lori Schippers, learned about the impact reusable cloth menstrual pads have on girls in Africa. It was GladRags that inspired the start of EWA and the mission they strive to fulfill. And today, they are proud to announce their new partnership with GladRags. Together they have created an Empower Kit. Each kit costs $22 and will be given to one girl in rural Africa. The kit includes 5 “day pads” (5 base pads and 10 inserts) and one carrying bag. Everything is priced at cost and interested parties can buy straight from their website for Empower Women in Africa. To learn more please visit http://empowerwomeninafrica.com.

New Study Finds Menstrual Cups Do Not Increase Risk of IUD Expulsion

November 14, 2011 -- A recent study found that women who used internal menstrual devices, such as menstrual cups, are not at a statistically higher risk of IUD (intra-uterine device) expulsion than those who use pads, putting to rest hesitations about the reusable feminine products.

Conducted by the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, the study looked at nearly 1,000 women who had IUDs inserted during 2009. In an interview at the annual meeting of the Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada, lead researcher Dr. Ellen Wiebe shared the inspiration for her work. “Every week or so, I would get asked the question, ‘Is it okay to use a cup with the IUD?’ And I looked in the literature, and there were no answers,” Wiebe says, explaining the impetus for creating the study.

Study results will likely fuel the growing demand for sustainable, comfortable menstrual products.

“Menstrual cups are becoming increasingly popular among young, health-conscious women in the United States,” says GladRags owner Tracy Puhl. Offering natural and reusable menstrual products, laundering supplies and kits, Glad Rags sells both washable cotton pads and natural rubber or silicone menstrual cups.

“Unlike tampons, reusable menstrual cups collect the menstrual flow, rather than absorbing it, and are reusable for many cycles,” Puhl explains. “With concerns about toxic shock and environmental waste, menstrual cups are a convenient lifestyle choice for many women – now including those with IUDs as well.”

For more information: GladRags.com or 800-799-4523.