Since posting my first interview on this blog, Confessions of a Founding Mother, I have been laying the groundwork to connect more ‘Founding Mothers,’ particularly those in the B Corp world. Ahead of International Women’s Day I reached out to Caroline Duell of All Good, hoping she would share her experiences as a fellow B corp female founder and mother. Caroline is the first of what will be an ongoing interview series as we grow a network of Founding Mothers.
Back in 2015, I witnessed Caroline in Portland, Oregon at a B Corp street fair, nursing her baby and tending to customers in her booth with such natural ease. I thought, “that is one awesome woman!” and have been happy to be connected with her ever since. We had a long conversation about all things motherhood and business which has been edited down here.
What are your thoughts on being called a Founding Mother?
Caroline: Although I don’t necessarily introduce myself that way, being a mother is absolutely the strongest piece of my identity. Of course, we refer to the Founding Fathers and immediately we associate the birth of this country with them, which is interesting because of course, they were surrounded with very smart women who most likely influenced many of their ideas – so I love it!
“Being a Mother is absolutely the strongest piece of my identity.” – Caroline Duell
In your experience have you seen or felt a difference in businesses founded and led by women?
Caroline: For me, it’s not this clear divide between feminine and masculine but more just embracing the ideals of what is inclusive, of what is collaborative and nurturing. One of my favorite quotes is from Neil Young who says “a little bit of affection and everything you do will make the world a better place with or without you” and so, I believe that coming from a place of affection is the maternal difference we bring although I also believe that can come equally from men or women.
As CEOs of mission-driven businesses, we are working towards more than just earning a profit. How does your passion for a fair world impact your experience as a parent?
Caroline: What I’ve learned as a parent is that transparency always wins. As soon as my older daughter was able to understand it, I told her to call me out if I ever answer the question “Why?” with the word “because.” “Because” is not an answer in my book, and that translates across everything that we do in our company. If we are driven by transparency, it makes a better environment whether it’s a family home environment or a business.
Starting and running a business is all about risk-taking. Has your risk tolerance been impacted by becoming a parent?
Caroline: That’s a really interesting topic, as nothing will halt your inclination toward risk more than the responsibility of having a child. But having said that, there is something that I love about risk-taking. Understanding and responding to riskiness is a tool that kids need to navigate life and is an incredibly important component of their brain development. I love the expression that ‘the extremes redefine the middle’, so it’s just a matter of what we consider to be the extremes.
“The extremes redefine the middle.” – Caroline Duell
What’s your strategy for finding the balance between family and business?
Caroline: I am very committed to parenting with presence, and of course, my kids might call me out on this but my commitment is that when I am with them, I am truly present. My husband and I run the business together and all our employees know our kids, as we do theirs, which is at the heart of what being a family business is all about. Our kids have all slept under banner stands at trade shows so they know the experience of their parents working, but we are really committed to integrating fun and family into what we do, because frankly if we didn’t, we would lose the essence of who we are as a business, as well as a family.
“If we don’t integrate fun and family into what we do, we would lose the essence of who we are as a business.” – Caroline Duell (Click to Tweet!)
Are you a Founding Mother of a social-impact company or social enterprise? Join our private community for meaningful conversation and connection
Do you feel the current business climate for women is changing?
Caroline: When it comes to business I find more and more women leading the way, whether it’s at a conference with women on stage or in a boardroom. You see it reflected in what just happened with Congress recently, it’s awesome to watch that demographic change, and I feel that’s just going to happen more and more. For our daughters, it will be different. There is a book I read to my girls at bedtime called Goodnight Stories for Rebellious Girls, that gives them great positive role models. My daughter can’t even imagine that somebody wasn’t allowed to do something because of gender. Although there is still a long way to go, we’re getting closer to a place with a sense of equanimity and equality.
Professionally or even personally what’s next for you, what’s in the pipeline, plan-wise what are you dreaming of?
Caroline: All Good is really coming into its own right now. We’re very happy to be part of a cool group of businesses that are really pushing the envelope in the B-Corp community. I’m recognizing that our small business is having the opportunity to be a part of a larger movement, really pushing our mission around the safety and efficacy of sunscreen ingredients. Future-wise, being part of conversations around business solutions for so many of the world’s problems be it coral reef protection, climate change or fair work scenarios or regenerative agriculture, those types of things that truly matter, that’s what excites us the most.
Caroline Duell has been making herbal medicines since 1995, and developed the formula for All Good Goop in 1998. In 2005 she established her company, All Good. When not entrenched in company growth, Caroline loves to play on granite rocks, single-track trails, windblown waves and untracked snowfields, all with an eye for new adventures.