During a trip to Australia in 1999, Stephanie Carter and Lenya Shore discovered that the Australian secret to sun protection was a simple (and stylish) one: wearing UPF 50+ crushable fabric hats. These hats journeyed back to the United States with them where they were an instant hit. Naturally everyone wanted one, but none were available for sale in the country. Together, Carter and Shore launched Wallaroo Hat Company, dedicated to creating colorful hats that keep heads safe from the sunlight. Read on to find out more about them and their Boulder, CO-based B Corp.
A passion for fashion meets skin cancer awareness: “We wanted to create a brand that was known for its attractive styles that would make people want to wear hats. Skin cancer is one of the fastest growing types of cancer and one of the most preventable. Wallaroo is passionate about skin cancer research, education, and prevention and has partnered with many organizations in the United States that provide these services to their communities and to the nation. When we founded Wallaroo Hat Company in 1999, we introduced the idea of packable, washable, crushable hats to a market that had not seen this type of hats before. We combined those features with an Ultraviolet Protection Factor rating of 50+, giving our customers a 97.5% UV block. We pioneered this sun protection movement in the United States and have seen the trend continue to grow across the country in the last 15 years.”
What drew us to become a B Corp: “When the idea of becoming a B Corp was first presented to me at a CEO group, I was intrigued by the idea of giving back and meeting voluntary standards of transparency, accountability and environmental sustainability. I was not certain we would be able to meet the rigorous requirements but after working with the staff at the B Corp offices on systems and processes, we were able to become B Corp compliant. We are proud to be members of the B Corp movement because it is changing the way business is done in the United States. We like being in partnership with other B Corps to ensure that there is transparency in work environments, employee relations and environmental sustainability.”
How being a B Corp influenced where we work: “In July 2015, we were presented with an opportunity to purchase our own building in Boulder where our corporate headquarters are located. In the 15 years that Wallaroo had been in business we had always rented our offices. This opportunity served as a reminder of the hard work and dedication we had put into building our business and gave us another way to be the masters of our own destiny. During renovation of our building we implemented many of the B Corp suggestions to help us improve our B Corp status. These improvements included changing all of the lighting to be more energy efficient, adding solar blinds to our offices to assist with further energy efficiency and implementing a more comprehensive recycling and composting program to ensure that we were minimizing our output into landfills.”
What you need to know about being B Corp certified: “Achieving B Corp status is not something to be undertaken lightly. It requires a significant amount of work, time, and energy, but it is worth it. Wallaroo was recently re-certified for the second time and the process was even more rigorous than the first time. If you are a company that is passionate about the world around you and the way things work, being part of the B Corp community is essential.”
What Wallaroo does to “B The Change” daily: “We pride our business on cultivating an environment where our employees are happy to come to work and love what they do. Years ago we made a decision that every day we would have lunch together as a company and shut the phones off for 30 minutes so that everyone could enjoy time together and talk about their lives. While we don’t require our employees to have lunch together, most people choose to sit together and share in the events of their lives. It has created a culture of closeness and friendship that we are told is different from many other companies. Our employees look forward to this time together to relax, laugh, and eat their lunch. As owners of the company we feel it is important to be with our employees during lunch time so they don’t feel there is a barrier between us. We want to continue to engage with our employees in both corporate and non-corporate settings so that they will know who we are and what we believe in. We have had years of laughs and tears and friendship from this lunchtime practice and it is something we hope to continue for years to come.”
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About Wallaroo Hat Company
The Boulder, Colo.-based Wallaroo Hat Company manufacturers an Aussie inspired line of UPF 50+, colorful, fashion-forward everyday hats. Wallaroo was founded by Stephanie Carter and Lenya Shore in 1999 after a trip to Australia where they discovered the Aussie secret to sun protection. Wallaroo hats are available online, in catalogs and more than 2,000 outdoor, resort, golf, gardening and boutique retails stores throughout the U.S.
This has been a Fantastic B Corps post, MyCorporation’s salute to the entity that gives back to business and society. Join us biweekly for a glimpse at the entrepreneurs using their small business to “B The Change” in this global movement for good.