Saturday, April 04, 2009

Verve Inc. Puts Sustainable Bite on All-Natural Chewing Gum and Educational Candy-Making Kits for Kids

The Company
Verve Inc.
305 Dudley St.
Providence, RI 02907
Phone: [401] 351-6415
Web: www.gleegum.com/

Founded: 1996
Employees: Approximately 5
Annual Sales: $1 million - $1.5 million

Contact: Deborah Schimberg, Founder & President deborah@gleegum.com

The Business
Verve Inc. makes all-natural Glee Gum in six flavors [cinnamon, peppermint, tangerine, bubblegum, spearmint, triple berry], plus educational Make Your Own Candy Kits [chocolate, gummies, chewing gum] for kids.

Rather than use synthetic ingredients for its Glee Gum, Verve promotes grass-roots economic development by sourcing directly from chicleros who sustainably harvest their super-chewy natural chicle from Sapodilla trees in the rainforests of Central America. Instead of using artificial sweeteners [e.g., aspartame], Glee Gum is slightly sweetened with natural cane sugar and rice syrup. To watch the entire "Tree to Glee" process, click here.

The Partners
Education is at Verve Inc.'s very core. Online, kids, parents, teachers, group leaders and party planners can access a wealth of educational media that helps people connect with the global sources of their food.

Offline, Verve Inc. has affiliated with several prestigious nonprofit organizations to promote economic justice, environmental sustainability plus good, clean, healthy living:
* 1% For The Planet, a growing alliance of businesses -- currently, 1,158 companies in all [e.g., Patagonia] -- that donate at least 1% of their annual revenues to 1,733 environmental organizations worldwide
* American Vegetarian Association [AVA], created to promote the interests and concerns of individuals and organizations involved in the preservation, propagation, and distribution of vegetarian ideas and products
* Feingold® Association of the United States, dedicated to promoting additive-, preservative- and synthetic food-coloring-free nutrition
* Green America [formerly "Co-op America"], whose mission is to harness economic power — the strength of consumers, investors, businesses, and the marketplace — to create a socially just and environmentally sustainable society
* Trees for the Future, an agroforestry resource center helping people in developing countries improve their rural livelihoods through the introduction of environmentally sustainable land management projects focused on beneficial tree planting

The Buzz
"The Better World Shopping Guide -- 2nd Edition: Every Dollar Makes a Difference" is the leading source of info [pocket-sized and otherwise] for ranking consumer goods according to their producers' level of social responsibility, environmentally friendly [or not] manufacturing practices, etc. The guide gives Glee Gum top scores across the board.

For anyone seeking an all-natural chewing gum, Glee Gum is the best alternative to standard fare [e.g., Wrigley's]. According to Erin Nypaver, an Amazon customer/reviewer: "This is the best aspartame-free gum on the market!!! It was so hard finding a gum that didn't contain dangerous chemicals and artificial ingredients. This is it!"

GoodBiz113's editor and publisher also appreciates its artificial sweetener- and preservative-free quality, and is especially fond of cinnamon Glee Gum. [Think Dentyne, only healthier and sustainably sourced.]

Leadership Q&A
Kari Larson, GoodBiz113: Verve is primarily categorized as a toy and hobby goods wholesaler. In terms of your company's identity then, are your Make Your Own Candy Kits Verve's No. 1 driver, or is it Glee Gum?

Deborah Schimberg, Verve Inc.: Glee Gum is the No. 1 driver. Verve would probably be more accurately categorized as a natural candy manufacturer rather than a toy and hobby goods wholesaler. However, our two product lines [Glee Gum and the Make Your Own Candy Kits] can be categorized many ways. Both lines are "green"/eco-friendly and all-natural. The Candy Kits are also educational toys.


GoodBiz113: Verve is a member of 1% For The Planet, meaning that the company is part of a global alliance of businesses that contribute at least 1% of their revenues to help promote a healthy planet. Given all the doom-and-gloom noise about these challenging economic times, how does a small company like Verve manage to give back so generously?

Verve Inc.: The environment deserves support now more than ever. We do what we can and wish we could do more!


GoodBiz113: Verve has partnered with several organizations to promote education, environmental sustainability, social justice and grass-roots economic development. You could simply access chicle in conventional and, presumably, more cost-effective ways. Why devote the human and financial resources to partnering with local chicleros, etc.? Who benefits from such alliances?

Verve Inc.: Frankly, it would be much easier to get all-synthetic gum base -- much less expensive and much less hassle! However, the company was founded with the idea of providing an income for chicleros, who are essentially the stewards of the rainforest in the Petén. We feel strongly that we want our business to be a vehicle, to the extent that it can be, for sustainable development.


GoodBiz113: What does Verve's future hold, in terms of new products, market reach, partnerships, etc.?

Verve Inc.: We're working on Glee Sugar Free and some other new products. We also hope to eventually produce our own gum base and create as organic a gum as possible. And we recently became certified as a woman-owned business and hope to find ways to work with other WBENC [Women's Business Enterprise National Council] companies collaboratively.


GoodBiz113: What is the greatest lesson that any aspiring social entrepreneur could learn from Verve Inc.?

Verve Inc.: Keep on keeping on! Apart from that, stay as close as you can to the reason that you're getting involved with business in the first place. It's hard to compete and it's hard to get one's story out, so the more consistent you can be and the more involved you can be with the triple bottom line, the more you can differentiate yourself and your business.


GoodBiz113: Any other key points that you'd like to make?

Verve Inc.: We've got the cutest mascot...


Verve Inc.'s Glee Gum and educational Make Your Own Candy Kits are available online and throughout North America. Check out the company's handy-dandy store locator to find the retailer closest to you.
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Want Something Sweet, All-Natural AND Educational to Fill Those Easter Baskets? Order Some Glee Gum and Candy Making Kits Today!

1 comment:

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