Gabriela Jauregui is the founder of The GuiltFree Agency. She is a brand strategist and Google Certified UX Designer. The Guilt Free Agency produces eco-inclusive strategies & equitable designs. They help sustainably conscious, inclusive, and social business showcase its values while building a community around their brand.
Katherine Ann Byam 0:01
What do you think young, sustainable brands get wrong today on their setup?
So I think, coming up with like customer based solutions, so I’ll give you an example, so like the beeswax wraps. I think they’re great. They’re a great product and stuff like that. But they all like hand roll them. Everyone I’ve seen, they all hand roll, they all hand do the melting on the wax, and then, and there’s all like similar stuff like, hey, after a few washes, it’s not sticky anymore after it’s really high maintenance to keep track of them, like I have all this other stuff going on. So instead of like someone just kind of reiterating that, all that like restarting another business with like, all the same issues, like I think it would be great if someone took the time to really come up with solutions to some of these complaints.
Katherine Ann Byam 0:49
We absolutely love Gabriela’s perspectives on UX design and branding. Listen to this episode.
This is season five, the great debates of our times, Season Five will be centred around the great debates. And we will be comparing and contrasting different viewpoints on various topics that are consuming the public discourse at present. The reason I decided to take this approach is because we, or at least many of us, are losing the skill of debate. And I think this is an essential skill for us all to practice once more. I don’t see how we get to the point of saving the world and saving our planet, if we don’t know how to discuss our differences. I also think that the solution to most of our challenges is somewhere in the spectrum of views, but never a type of extreme. I will be working with guests to curate the content and discuss beforehand. I will understand their positions, their areas of genius and navigate my questions around that so that conversation is challenging and stimulating, without being combative. I hope you enjoy season five of Where Ideas Launch; The Sustainable Innovation podcast. Gabriela Jauregui is the founder of the GuiltFree Agency. She is a brand strategist and Google certified UX designer. The GuiltFree agency produces equal inclusive strategies and equitable designs. They help sustainably conscious inclusive and social businesses showcase their values while building a community around their brand. Thank you so much for joining me, Gabriela. It’s such a pleasure to have you on Where Ideas Launch.
Yeah, thank you so much for having me, I, I can’t say thank you enough. Like, this is such an awesome experience to be able to be on the podcast with you.
Katherine Ann Byam 2:35
That’s really great. I love having people who are fresh to podcasting, because, one, it’s a perspective people haven’t heard before. And yeah, it’s it’s great to welcome your listeners as well to the show and to the programme, where we have loads of great content for anyone getting into the sustainability space, and are building a business. So really wonderful to have you and really wonderful to represent the brand work that you do. So we met in my Facebook group, my community over a year ago, I think when you joined Women In Sustainable Business, and now we’re really collaborating on a super meaningful project to me and to the entire team of volunteers. The WISBYs, and I cannot thank you enough for the role that you’re playing on the team, you’ve been so valuable, both in the tech leadership part of it, as well as in the brand. So really, I wanted to say thank you for that.
Yeah, thank you, um, when you put the, you know, the advertisement out that you were looking for volunteers, I was just like, this sounds like an amazing thing to be a part of, and I’m always jumping up at the opportunity to help, you know, to help communities and all that kind of build each other up in the sustainability industry. So thank you.
Katherine Ann Byam 3:46
Yeah, I mean, the space, sustainability of itself needs so much collaboration, so much community. And it’s, I think it’s such an important thing that people are able to support each other. It’s quite difficult, though, that we always seem to start from a place of volunteering, because we never seem to have the investment upfront. And I think that’s, that’s a two fold thing. And I know I’m going off on a tangent a little bit. But it’s a two fold thing, because part of the story is that we want to be self made, we don’t want to take money from brands that are not doing things the right way. But the the way that we’re going to grow is if we can scale quickly. So it’s always like a big juggling act, but I’m really appreciative of the people who give of their time and give of their love and give of their skills to help bring this stuff to life. You know, and just as another side topic, like I was doing some research on how communities support each other in places like New Zealand, where they’re coming up with their own local currency in a particular area, or they’re doing skills training, and I love to find this kind of, let’s call it all solution to problems that we face today. So this is a really great opportunity. So I wanted to start and talk about why you got in to UX, and you’ve done this work with so many amazing brands that you’ve worked with in the past. So I just wanted to find out about why you started guilt free agency and why UX design, and what this whole sustainability consciousness means to you.
Yeah, so it was quite the journey. So in 2019, I actually quit my job like right before the pandemic, it was like this perfect storm of situations like our youngest, I was breastfeeding her at the time, and I wasn’t able to produce enough milk for her. And she was allergic to formula. So I’m like, Oh, my God, what the heck am I going to do? And then we had a bunch of other like, family stuff going on, and all that. And then I was like, Okay, well, we need to make a decision, like, you know, and then I ended up quitting my job staying home. But I was a single mom for like, five years before I met my husband. So this idea of staying home and not bringing income was like, so what the heck am I doing with my life? So I started actually going down a bunch of different ideas, like, what can I do to make more, more money and all that, right? And then after like, playing with a bunch of different ideas, I was like, well, why don’t I use I have a business degree, you know, I have all this experience in like business operations and marketing, customer experience, all that kind of stuff. I’m like, how can I use that to support people that are doing good, because now we’re getting into like the pandemic and, and I started thinking a lot more like family and what that means, and I grew up in, in Arizona, and I got to see like, the changes in climate change, like we used to have these crazy monsoon seasons, where you can literally go swimming in the streets. And then all of a sudden, like that was just gone. And seeing the effects of like, climate change for my family, like, my family actually has really high rates of cancer. So just seeing like, all that all the, you know, everything going on at the time, and all that coming together, I was like, I want to do something that makes an impact, but I don’t have these crazy revolutionary ideas. So how can I support the people that do, so you know, I’m a strong believer in thinking that everyone has their purpose. And I really think that my purpose is to use the skills and knowledge to help impact the world, which is why I went into learning about UX design as well, because it takes like this rules, like kind of like strategic problem solving approach to design, which I love, I’m very analytical, I love doing that kind of stuff. So, and it also made me kind of reflect on myself, like, how can I be a better person, because I know that growing up in Arizona, and then in the Latin community, there is a lot of like negatives around, you know, being sustainable, you know, it’s this, like, this rich, white person thing to do. And I needed to, like, let go of a lot of those. And then, I mean, there’s also like, a lot of racism in the community. I was like, okay, even though I don’t see myself as this racist person, I still have some biases, because of my upbringing that I need to address. And, you know, make sure that I don’t pass on to my children. So yeah, that’s what I really liked about the UX field is just making sure that I hold myself as a person accountable so that I can make these great impacts.
Katherine Ann Byam 8:02
It’s super interesting what you say about that’s a white person thing, because it’s, it’s also something that I experienced as a black person in sustainability. There aren’t many black people in sustainability. When when I talk to black women who are advocating for things, they tend to be advocating for DI. Yeah, because that one, that one hits us really hard, right, that one hits us double hard. But but when it comes to climate change, when it comes to, you know, what businesses are doing, companies are doing, it’s really difficult to start that conversation at that level. Because actually, what I hear, and the kind of pushback that I get is that, look, we we’re just trying to take care of our kids now. Like, we’re just trying to take care of generational wealth, which is part of the problem. But it’s quite, it’s quite a complicated beast to change. And yeah, you’re right, the change starts inside, right, it starts with your own journey, to figuring out what’s meaningful to you. So well done for doing that. And, you know, combining this with with the needs of your life, right? You know, when when you have these very narrow choices that sometimes our kids give us, it makes the clarity somehow easier.
Oh, yeah. Yeah, that was definitely a big eye opener for me. Yeah.
Katherine Ann Byam 9:16
So tell us about some of the projects you’re working on right now and why they matter?
Yeah. So obviously, I think my favourite one is the WISBYs for sure. Because that’s, I just, you know, we’ve talked about the vision for all that, and I’m so excited for when this comes to fruition. Like, you know, I think my kids asked me about it pretty regularly. And, you know, I talked to my husband about it, my mom and I will talk about it and all this kind of stuff. And I’m like, Yeah, we need to get because she, she imports like purses and stuff like that from Mexico. And I’m like, Okay, well, we need to get you on this path. So maybe this is something you can do, you know, so she’s excited to support me, but I’m using that as a way to kind of hopefully help her be more sustainable as well. Yeah, but some of the recent projects I’ve done, I think, were some of my favourite as well. So I worked with an organisation out of South, South San Francisco, called Ride sell city. And they’re working with the Latin X community to take equitable climate action within their community and build up leaders. So first of all, the branding was just a lot of fun, because we wanted to create something that was going to attract investors. But at the same time, like stay true to the roots, because the founder, he’s also he’s from Guatemala. And so I wanted something to stay true to him and the community that he’s serving. So he’s focusing more on like the Latin X community, but something that doesn’t quite alienate the other people of colour in the area as well. So that was just a lot of fun to work with, and creating these different ideas, something that really just kind of worked for everyone in the area. And, and yeah, the the programmes that they’re doing, I’m just like, oh my god, I’m so like, I was so grateful that they allowed me to help them with that, because, you know, they’re working on paid internships, doing programmes for parents, and offering like childcare when the parents are, are, you know, learning stuff, because I think that’s, that’s such an important part, especially in like, the Latin X community where there are a lot of parents, family is something that’s really important. So then you need to find ways to support the children, while the parents also help better their future. So that was fun. And then I worked with another organisation called 60th Street Strong they’re business coalition in West Philadelphia, and they are working on on rebuilding the 60th Street corridor. So the primary, you know, organisation working on this is achievability. And they’ve been in the area for like, 40 years. And they are just like, amazing. Like, all the stuff that they’ve done for the community, someone that you know, or a group that’s really greatly impacted by the racial issues that we face here in the US, and what they’re doing to kind of help and those issues is just so amazing. And again, I felt real grateful to be able to help them with that and create something that reflected their community so that they could build themselves up, you know, from the brand stamp.
Katherine Ann Byam 12:04
And what would you say have been your biggest challenges in getting started in your company? So I, you know, I know, I thought it wrong the same time as you 2019. And it’s not been easy. We faced a pandemic we faced, you know, lots of lots of issues and challenges, politically, etc. What do you say has been the biggest challenge and how did you become it?
Biggest challenge for me? I think, I remember, well there’s two that are definitely tied. I know, you asked for one, but there’s two, they’re tied. I think, my health after having our youngest daughter, I just have to re, rearrange, like how I do things. Like, I’m, we still don’t really know what exactly happened, it’s affected the way that I think, it’s sffected the way that I speak. And as someone that was like a former gifted child, I’m like, Okay, now my mind is, is different than it used to be. So that’s been a struggle for me. But then also, I think, the, the, the microaggressions, in the online space. And you and I were just kind of talking about that a little bit before the show, like, you know, when I, like, Oh, hey, I can help you with, you know, the branding and stuff like that. Here’s my this, and then they kind of interrogate me, and they’re like, are you really from the US? I’m like, Yes, I was born and raised here. You really speak English? Yes, I really do. This is, you know, it’s just, I think those two are the biggest things which has kind of impacted like, my, my sense of self worth. But I’ve made a lot of progress with that over this last like few months. So I took a little break from my business, because I really needed to work on myself. And that sense and but now I’m back into it. And I’m honestly more excited than ever.
Katherine Ann Byam 13:41
This, this is really great to hear and look, you know, I share that journey with you. I know how hard it is. I mean, me starting a business. I remember my best friend in Trinidad. When I told her I was going to start this business in the UK. She’s like, what, you’re building a business in the UK? What, are you crazy. And the reason for that is that, you know, you don’t, so much of building a business depends on having a strong network and people that are willing to support you people that are willing to put their neck out for you, and really lift you up. Right. And, and I didn’t really have that community in the UK, you know, like, I’ve only been here in a job in a sort of corporate job. I didn’t know any entrepreneurs I didn’t, you know, I didn’t have that community. And then the first community that I trusted, wasn’t great. So, so, you know, when you go through these things, you know, and you know, you talk about online microaggressions, sometimes their macroaggressions, sometimes, it’s really it’s really big and it’s really severe and, and to overcome that knowing that you have a good message first of all, that you that what you’re doing is important. It kind of helps. I would say it helps you get over some of those hurdles, because you’re pushing through to what a bigger, a bigger vision. It’s not just about you. I mean, okay, yes, feeding your kids is important, but it’s not just about that. It’s also about the impact and how you want people to feel and that effect that your work has on on that business that you’re helping, et cetera. So I think, if you agree that that really helps, right?
Oh, yeah, it does. I think that’s the thing that really helped kind of bring me back to, okay, I just need to ignore all these things that just kind of let it go. In my own way. I know, like, a part of me is like, man, they shouldn’t be like this. But then the other part of me is like, Okay, I don’t need to waste my energy on these people right now. Because I’m not in a good space to do that. So. So yeah, I agree. I think helping like to that greater impact to create that greater impact, I think is is really what helped me it’s like, okay, I shouldn’t focus on this, I should focus on just what the change I want to help create.
Katherine Ann Byam 15:44
This is great. So I want to I want to pivot to a question I asked every budding growing entrepreneur, if you were to be given an investment pot right now, no strings attached? What would you do? What would you invest in for your business?
Oh, boy, I would definitely invest in someone to help me like repurpose my content. That’s so it’s so much work. So that would definitely be number one. And then a copywriter, I think would be great to help me just refine like my brand voice further. And stuff like social media, my website, all that kind of stuff. I think those two things would really help me get my business to that next level.
Katherine Ann Byam 16:21
Interesting. I always like to ask this question and see and see where people take it. Like, I wonder if sometimes if sales is more important. So having someone going out there doing your business development, or whether you know, you, you put more effort in socials or in search, because SEO is a whole other whole other bag, you know, and it’s always interesting to see how people respond. So thank you. Thank you for sharing that. And what do you think young, sustainable brands get wrong today on their setup?
So I think, coming up with like, customer based solutions, so I like I recently joined TikTok. And I was like kind of looking through and I come across these like eco brands, but people like to complain on there. Sometimes. So like you see the complaints about these eco brands on there. But then I see like the same things coming up. So I’ll give you an example so like the beeswax wraps. I think they’re great. They’re great, you know, product and stuff like that. Yeah, great solution. But they they all like hand roll them, everyone I’ve seen, they all hand roll, they all hand do the melting on the wax. And then, and there’s all like similar stuff like, hey, after a few washes, it’s not sticky anymore, after it’s really high maintenance to keep track of them, like I have all this other stuff going on. So instead of like someone just kind of reiterating that all that like restarting another business with like, all the same issues, like I think it would be great if someone took the time to really come up with solutions to some of these complaints; like something that doesn’t really lose its stickiness, that’s not so hard to maintain, like, after just a few washes, you know, and something that like can be more quickly produced, like some kind of like assembly line kind of situation, I think would be great. I know, I know, there’s like a push on that in the sustainability, because they don’t want to produce waste. In the sustainability realm, you know, they don’t want to be this mass production kind of thing. But I think in the world that we live in now, some of that is necessary in order to reduce costs, because not everyone has the luxury of time and money.
Katherine Ann Byam 18:25
Yeah, it’s either a marketing problem, or sort of target audience problem, or a actual physical supply chain product problem. I don’t know what the answer is. But often I say to people in my communities, why are you targeting the small business here, or the small customer here, when you should be looking for, you know, a corporate customer or something like this, and I think we just we just get the scales wrong. You know, sometimes when I look around, at some of the people in my communities, like the desire to help is there, but it’s not just a desire to help you need to be kind of strategic as well. And that’s definitely something that people are still on a journey to figure out. Right. Like, and I think part of it is not getting the support. Right? Not not asking for help, maybe.
Yeah, I think because we want to be able to like ask for help. I think part of that is but then we also want to be able to make sure we’re paying people because then how are we any better than the rest of them? You know, kind of thing if we aren’t paying for time, but that’s why like, I recently started up with like a YouTube channel where I kind of talk about this stuff because I’m like, okay, there’s still going to be like people not wanting to ask for help and that’s okay, but here let me provide some resources. Let me kind of break things down, like to help get you started. So then you can you feel okay to ask for help. You know, you get some money coming in. And then you ask.
Katherine Ann Byam 19:45
Yeah, no, that makes so much sense. So what are some sustainable branding tips you could give to my listeners today who are business owners?
Yeah. So I think number one is definitely like addressing your own biases, because I think that’s going to help create, like the biggest impact and solutions for the collective. And just thinking past those to help make, make those greater like change making decisions based off of like data and stuff like that not necessarily off of our emotions or our biases and stuff. I think that’s number one. Number two, like for, for branding, I say, if you make any investment in your brand, let that be a brand guide. Because we’ve all seen like those major businesses with like, funky looking logos, but they still make it work, you know, that maybe their their website doesn’t have all the fancy stuff, but they’re still making it work too. And again, that’s, I think, just because they’re clear on the transformation that they help provide. So making sure that your brand guide reflects, like, why you started, where you’re going, who your audience is, and so much more. And then of course, like asking for feedback from clients, customers, or your community just to make sure that you’re making the appropriate improvements, and you’re really providing that next level of customer experience, because that’s what really can make or break a brand is customer experience.
Katherine Ann Byam 21:02
I’m gonna shift tacks again, because you and your family live in the US. You were born in the US, you know, how divided the US is on the topic of climate and oil and energy and all sorts of things that we can’t stop debating, it seems, what excites you today about the passing of the largest climate bill ever in the US that proposes to cut emissions by roughly 40%, among other things, and what gives hope to small businesses from from that, that bill?
Yeah, so I’m, I’m really excited, I think about like, their, their focus on like agriculture, the decarbonisation and building resilient communities, you know, specifically like the disadvantage in the rural communities. Because, so I’m like a volunteer member of Denver sustainability advisory council. So I’ve been able to see like firsthand some of the innovative solutions that can come when you like, involve the community to create plans that are equitable. And I think like, if the US can execute this correctly, they get a definitely very like, based on state and city and county and all that kind of stuff. But we have this great chance to create, like, truly circular economies, like even if it is just these pockets of of cities or rural areas that are circular, I think that’s gonna make a really big impact for the US and helping reduce our waste and just kind of like starting to create more of these, these more local, local communities, I think that’s not something that I, there’s still pockets of that, you know, in places in the US, but in Arizona, where I grew up, like you didn’t really know your neighbour, like, that’s not really something that you did, you know, you didn’t go out there and like, help them out when it was hot, and stuff, you know, and that’s just, I’d like to see more of that in in more communities. And I think this is a great opportunity for the US to start doing that.
Katherine Ann Byam 23:06
That’s great. I was speaking to someone on the podcast recently from Seattle. And they were saying that, you know, they’re so far ahead in Seattle on green initiatives. But when they look around the rest of the country, it’s like a completely different space. And you know, the way, the way things are managed by State and stuff. Do you, do you think that that is a sustainable approach as well for how your country grows into sort of the demands of the sustainability transition? Or do you think that there needs to be something at more federal level?
I do think there needs to be some regulation across like, the federal level. I mean, as much as I wish that people, you know, from the smaller communities could just be trusted with with making the right choices. Unfortunately, we don’t really have that here in the US too often, especially in like Arizona, where there were, you know, growing up there made me realise like, after moving out of that state, like many years, okay, not every place is like this, like what is going on? You know, they pushed a lot of the sustainability aspect on everyone else. And it’s very, like kind of corporate centric. We had a lot of problems with like, our electric companies, but they would always just push it back on the consumer and stuff. So and that’s something that that state allowed. So I think that if we have regulations on the federal level, it would help those states where the people are wanting change, but it’s the government itself, that’s not allowing for that to happen.
Katherine Ann Byam 24:33
It’s definitely complex. Last, bits of advice would you give to someone getting started in their business today? And also, how can people get in touch and engage with the work that you do?
Yeah, so I think someone getting started today in like the sustainability realm is don’t be too hard on yourself. We all have our own journey. And some part of that journey for everyone I think is making mistakes. And I think if we start giving ourselves more grace as a community, then it makes it easier for us to, to continue making change and not being so hard on ourselves for the for maybe feeling like we’re not following this like perfect zero waste lifestyle, you know, but yeah, so that’s, that’s, I think my biggest part of change. And if you’d like to connect with me then that I would love that, you can connect with me on Instagram, or YouTube. That’s where I’m mostly at hanging out right now. So both of those are just at the GuiltFree Agency. And I put out content every week to kind of, you know, just help you push along in your business.
Katherine Ann Byam 25:33
Thank you so much Gabriela for joining us today. It was such a pleasure to have you.