Grow Ensemble is an independent media platform founded by Cory Ames together with his Annie in late 2019 and is all about exploring the who, what, why, & how of building a better world. Through interviews, articles, and videos, they explore topics like sustainable business, climate change, living sustainably, and so much more. Building a better world begins with building a vision for what they’re working towards.
Welcome Cory, we are so pleased that you are joining us here at agood community! We wanted to ask you a few questions to know about you and your success to Grow Ensemble.
1.Could you briefly tell us about yourself to our readers and what motivated you to start Grow Ensemble?
Happy to. I’m Cory and I’m a writer, researcher, and podcaster and the Founder of Grow Ensemble, which is a media and education company exploring all things building a better world.
I started Grow Ensemble (with my now wife, Annie), because I was interested in seeking out if there was a way for business to be done ethically and sustainably. From there came the podcast and much of the writing that we’ve accumulated today.
2.How did you come up with the name for your company - “Grow Ensemble”?
Grow Ensemble came from an idea of Annie’s. For some reason Ensemble (meaning together in French) was a word we really liked.
We thought Grow Ensemble (unnamed at the time) should be about inspiring collective vs. individual thinking. To act with a “we” in mind vs. just “I.”
Grow somehow fell nicely on the front of that—we cannot grow alone as a global community, we must grow together (ensemble).
3.You had planned to achieve a qualifying score for B Corporation Certification by the end of 2020. Where are you in the process?
Yes, we did! COVID hit and that process feel way on the back burner. At the moment, I don’t think we’ll be resurrecting that work anytime soon, either. Over the last few years, we/I spent a lot of time trying to make Grow Ensemble a “business.” But I came to the realization that it’s not really a business at all, nor would I like it to be one.
It’s resolved mostly to be a platform for disseminating the research I’m doing through interviews, reading, etc. and creating the media that I do (podcasts, articles, videos).
B Corporation Certification offers a good framework for businesses to measure and assess themselves. For the time being, it just doesn’t feel applicable to what Grow Ensemble is and will be.
4.Sustainability has an impact on prices of products. How can a company following sustainable practices address this issue?
It does. Price should also be a factor in evaluating the “sustainability” of a product in the first place. The goal should be (for the product producer) to make their product with the right materials, right labor practices, and as well the most accessible price point.
If a “sustainable” product can only be purchased by a niche market of high-income consumers, then is it really actually that sustainable?
While it’s a challenge for companies making “sustainable products,” it seems it should be their goal to make the product’s price more accessible over time to increase the likelihood of widespread adoption.
It will pose an ongoing challenge/question for the producer—what’s most important: margin or mission?
6.agood company produces many Eco-Friendly and sustainable Products. Which product of ours do you like the most and why?
7.What principles did you follow to become a successful Social Entrepreneur?
I’m not sure that’s how I’d describe myself! However, with the helpful advice and guidance of many others, I’ve worked to find the intersection of 1) what’s the impact I want to make 2) what am I good at and 3) what could I sustain doing for the longest time.
8.What do you enjoy most about Entrepreneurship? What do you find the hardest about it?
I love the freedom. I also loathe the freedom.
It’s really wonderful to have the freedom of choice for what I work on, but it’s also at times really quite difficult. It’s likewise difficult to measure what work is “enough.”
There’s always more you can be doing (or at least trying to do). It’s taken some time to develop the discipline to trust in my intuition and give myself some grace on how much I accomplish.
9.Often, as entrepreneurs explore ways to develop their business, they have one goal in mind: success. You are now a successful entrepreneur. Are you delighted with your success?
I’m hesitant with the label of “successful,” but then again, I guess that depends on your own definition of success. I’m quite grateful for where I’m at. I think you could say I’m delighted, because all I want to do (at least as it relates to work) is do more of what I’ve been doing. No big changes or goals necessary. Just do more of what I’m doing, a little better.
10.What’s been the most challenging part of running your business?
Determining the business model. Grow Ensemble started because I just wanted to write, try out running a podcast, and learn about interesting things in sustainability and social impact.
The trouble was building a business model on the back of that after the fact.
11.What advice would you give to upcoming social entrepreneurs?
Keep things as simple as possible! That might seem like generic advice, but I’m quite serious. If something “works” for you (and you need to define what’s “working”) stick with it! Be patient. Smaller focused efforts sustained over time will make all the impact you’re hoping for (and more!).
12.Who has been your biggest inspiration?
For me, it seems more so like “what” has been my biggest inspiration. For me, I feel inspired to create things that impact people, that inspire them to feel a certain way, or think differently.
So likewise, I pay special attention to the types of things, people, and places that do that for me. That’s good movies or TV. It’s spending time with my wife and now new son. It’s spending time outdoors. It’s cooking a really good meal. It’s finding other inspiring social entrepreneurs with interesting companies. It’s good books I read.
Those things inspire me to do more meaningful, enriching things with my own work.
13.What Kind of culture exists in your organization and how do you establish it?
I’m not sure you can call Grow Ensemble an organization. It’s mostly me. I do have lots of wonderful help from part-time folks, though.
I hope they find that there is a culture of respect and appreciation.
14.As we built a strong relation and collaboration with each other, How would you describe your collaboration with agood company in partnership.
I like to think that we’re friends. I reference agood company as an example in a lot of my writing. I think about the ways that y’ all do things a lot in my own work.
I’ve had a good few chats with Anders. He’s serious about his work and the mission of the company, but also very generous and lighthearted. I always enjoyed those connections and hope to come to visit in Sweden someday.
15.Which interviews are you most proud about and why?
Some good ones more recently - Paul Hawken, Annie Agle, Brett Isaac. I think those are a good few very well-rounded conversations. They are tactical and philosophical in their advice. I feel they offer a lot of inspiration and thinking. At least they did for me!