ECHOstore began over one casual dinner with three friends: Jeannie Javelosa, Reena Francisco, and Chit Juan. They were discussing ideas and reflecting on their work and lives, and they came upon a unique concept: a one-stop shop that would offer alternatives that could help everyone live a sustainable lifestyle and, thus, a social enterprise—ECHOstore Sustainable Lifestyle— was born.
A social enterprise is a business for profit, but with an added twist—the profits consider the triple bottom line, where there are environmental and social gains as well. We call it ECHOstore Sustainable Lifestyle. ECHO is an acronym for Environment & Community Hope Organization.
ECHOstore began with the Power of Three Women:
Chit is a marketing specialist. Formerly the CEO of Figaro, she is presently the Co-chair for the Philippine Coffee Board. She is an advocate for SMEs, a member of the following organizations: Philippine Business for Social Progress, Management Association of the Philippines, Peace and Equity Foundation, Women's Business Council of the Philippines. Chit supports Jeannie for communication and media needs.
Jeannie E. Javelosa : Handles Strategic Communications, Business and Network Development and Marketing, Product Sourcing and Development /President of the ECHOsi Foundation.
Jeannie is the writer, book author, artist, culture and Mt. Banahaw advocate. She is also the Curator of the Yuchengco Museum; Director of Creative Strategies of EON Stakeholder Relations Firm, Columnist for Philippine Star and actively involved with teaching yoga at ECHOyoga. Jeannie does Business and Network Development and helps Chit with Marketing, also oversees the developmental side of ECHOstore which is the ECHOsi Foundation.
Reena Francisco : Heads Operations, Finance, Product Development
Reena, the details-oriented person, has put up more than 70 coffee shops all over the country and some abroad. Reena is at the core of ECHOstore's store-market-café operations from product development, supply and packaging, HR issues, financial and administrative details. Reena helps Jeannie out with product development and focuses specifically on developing the in-store brands while taking creative control of the whole visual look of ECHOstore. Reena is also the lead for ECHOcafe and all the food-related aspects of the business.
ECHOstore is grounded upon Three Principles that ECHOstore continues to nurture and sustain:
- SELF: through a holistic, healthy, and clean lifestyle that integrates Body-Mind-Spirit wellness
- Organic and/or Natural Food and Body Products
We search for the highest quality, least processed, and natural foods and body products, because we believe that these must be in its purest state—unadulterated by artificial additives, sweeteners, colorings, and preservatives or toxic ingredients. We appreciate and celebrate the difference natural and organic products can make in the quality of one's life.
- Organic and/or Natural Food and Body Products
- COMMUNITY: through conscious consumerism, promoting fair trade and poverty alleviation programs
- Fair Trade
All our products are made under fair trade conditions. We actively seek out partnerships with larger foundations and organizations focused on livelihood and community development to see how we can help bring their products to the market. Our ECHOsi Foundation development directions have fair trade as a core direction.
- Supports Filipino Design Excellence
We look for quality design in all our products. We help mentor groups whose products need help in visual branding and design. We look to creative collaborators, designers, and artists to use ECHOstore as their personal social responsibility when one of our community groups need help in developing better product designs.
- Supports Livelihood And Mentors Small Entrepreneurs
We prioritize carrying products that come from very small communities or entrepreneurs and those that never had market access. We hold mentoring lectures, and help small entrepreneurs in marketing, packaging, branding, and product development.
- Integrity In All Business Dealings
Our partners are our allies. We treat them with respect, fairness, and integrity at all times, and we expect the same in return.
- Satisfying and Informing our Customers
We are passionate about helping develop the conscious consumer. Our customers are the lifeblood of our business. We take time to explain, educate, and inform them to help influence them towards leading a sustainable lifestyle. We want to meet or exceed their expectations on every shopping trip. We know that, by doing so, we turn customers into advocates of our business. Advocates do more than shop with us; they talk about ECHOstore to their friends and others. We want to serve our customers competently, efficiently, knowledgeably, and with flair.
- Fair Trade
- PLANET: through eco-friendly purchases
- Sustainable Agriculture
Through our ECHOmarket, we support organic farmers, growers, and the environment through our commitment to sustainable agriculture and by expanding the market for organic products. Our ECHOfarm, where we grow vegetables which we sell and use at the ECHocafe is our own way of walking our talk!
- Wise Environmental Practices
We respect our environment and recycle, reuse, and reduce our waste wherever and whenever we can. We remind others to do so as well through our Recyle for a Cause Program, newsletters and even through signages in our stores.
- Sustainable Agriculture
ECHOstore is a unique social enterprise because, not only does it house products from various social enterprises and SMEs, but there is an environmental aspect that goes in selecting products that support sustainability. Many of these small producers do not have a main outlet in a high-traffic area where they can sell their products. Also, many community groups need help with product development, marketing, branding, and strategically positioning their products in a local market that is often overloaded with global brands. ECHOstore wants to highlight Pinoy products and be proud of it too. As a retail store, ECHOstore is able to bring these products to a wider consumer range.
ECHOstore Serendra first opened in September 2008 and shared space with Kape Isla, a coffee shop under the Philippine Coffee Board. It was here where Jeannie, Reena, and Chit brought together their network of social enterprises, communities, foundations, and other organizations that needed not only support, but a space for their products from home care, fashion, gifts, and personal care. Some products are made by marginalized groups, women prisoners, urban poor, foundations that support abused children, and even the creative industries. The store also offers organic, natural, and nontoxic goods ranging from home cleaning products to staples such organic rice, sugar, and other produce.
Soon after, ECHOstore opened its second branch at the Podium. In 2011 ECHOmarket Sustainable Famrs, and ECHOcafe (Culture-Community, Coffee) were two related concepts that completed the whole ECHOstore retail triad.
ECHOVillage Store is the CSR of ECHOstore. This is a related retail brand given to NGOs to run. The first group was done in partnership with the Peace and Equity Foundation (PEF) and the Partnership and Access Center Consortium, Inc., (PACCI) features community handicrafts and foods from various regions in the country. The customer response was overwhelming and, in the past two years, ECHOstore has become the pioneer retail store in promoting a sustainable lifestyle
ECHOstore is focused on developing a niche, specialty market. Its main direction is to introduce and increase awareness of the products to consumers who live a sustainable lifestyle. Aside from its various branches and distribution points/partners such as hotels, ECHOstore also makes use of gondolas which are set up during events.
ECHOstore relies on below-the line activities like in-store events, online marketing via email, website, newsletters, social networking with twitter and facebook. Campaigns include tie-ups with corporations that are looking for a CSR programs that ECHOstore can develop that for them with its wide network of organizations and community groups.
As a social enterprise, ECHOstore acts not only as a collaborator, but also as a link between the consumer and the NGOs. With ECHOstore’s expertise in marketing, branding, product development, and retail operations, unique products that would remain in bazaars, trade fairs, or even just in the workshop are given the chance to make it to a market that understands and appreciates the story behind each product.
ECHOstore is present to talk about the community groups behind these products, and can effectively link them to customers. At the same time, it is a social enterprise, because it includes a social dimension in its business decisions and strategy. ECHOstore is involved in the different communities it also helps, integrate these communities with the store’s campaigns (e.g., Recycle for a Cause, Second Life, 1,000 Stories), and engages consumers as well.