Lauren Shuttleworth is determined to create change in the most sustainable and impactful way possible. Creating Words with Heart, her custom design stationery business, she is an inspiration to women entrepreneurs everywhere. Helping to fund education days for girls in developing countries as well as only using eco-friendly materials for her products.
Her interest in social enterprise came about after a volunteering trip at a school in Kenya, where she saw firsthand how hard it was for girls to stay in school because of a lack of funding.
“I always knew that I wanted to run my own business and philanthropy was always something that was built into me and my siblings lives as really important growing up. I’d always done lots of volunteer work and wanted to find a way to bring that into my job.”
“Coming back to Australia I was trying to think of what would be a really good model for a social enterprise. I was at the airport, and walked into a stationery store and saw a notebook that had this really awful messaging. It said something like boys, heels, blogs, lets go back to the basics and I just thought that this isn’t the type of messaging that should be on notebooks.”
“I then thought that I could definitely do something that would be more sustainable, that could have an impact and that would have more meaningful and empowering messaging.”
“I’ve always been a fan of messages that are a bit more feminist and kind of tongue in cheek, we had one notebook that said, girls just want to have fun-damental human rights,” she said.
Lauren said that it wasn’t that hard to figure out how to create the notebooks sustainably. “There are a lot of sustainable options for stationery in terms of the core product, like recycled paper is not a new thing but its not branded well. A lot of people don’t realise just how much water, energy and wood they save by choosing recycled products.”
With so many more choices becoming available for the creation of eco-friendly products, Lauren believes that, “even as consumers we can look at how we purchase products every day and how those decisions can make a big impact on the environment.”
“Often, we talk about climate change as this huge big intimidating problem that not one person can solve but there are a lot of things that we can all do. Like recycling, not using plastic straws or bringing our own coffee cups. Small changes like that which are really not that difficult to implement add up to a big impact over time,” she said.
As another part of Lauren’s vision, Words with Heart is passionate about providing empowerment for women and girls, “I think just talking about it is important and acknowledging that there is still a very big gap. It’s also important for women to lift each other up and to mentor and share knowledge to help those that are coming up behind us.”
“Also, I think that a lot of men I speak to are not aware of the difficulties that women face in life, and I definitely think men becoming allies in the movement is important,” she said.
The fact that she is still in business is one of Lauren’s biggest achievements so far, “there are a lot of social enterprises that start but find it hard to push past that first phase. But to still be growing and to be profitable nearly three years down the track is definitely a big win.”
Another achievement is the fact that she is a woman in a male dominated space, as only around 4% of founders of tech start-ups in Australia are women. “It’s a really tough environment for women, it’s still very much a bro-culture and its still well and truly thriving in Australia. Its definitely tough to break through that,” she said.
Lauren’s ultimate goal is to fund a million days of education by 2020, with 80,000 days being funded so far, she is also looking to expand Words with Heart into the US next year.
But she said that “there are times when I have big lofty goals and there are other times where I feel grateful to just be doing something I love and to be creating an impact and to be growing at a good rate. I’m very thankful but also ambitious at the same time.”
Published on October 4, 2017 on SheBrisbane