Article The power of purpose: Michelle Smith’s Curated with Conscience 31 August 2023 Read time: 2 min Learn how Michelle Smith from Curated with Conscience is proving that the relationship between purpose and profit isn’t always a zero-sum game. Purpose and profit. The relationship between these two concepts is not always a zero-sum game. And Michelle Smith from Curated with Conscience is proving it. Curated with Conscience is a social purpose-driven custom gifting studio based in Melbourne. They curate luxe gift hampers with products from social enterprises, design-led ethical brands and talented Australian artisans. We think that’s a pretty cool take on an otherwise tired market. So, we sat down with Michelle Smith, founder and client (and friend) of Kearney Group, to learn a little about her journey and where she’s headed next. Not only can you be socially responsible, but you can be profitable and successful in business. Michelle Smith Founder of Curated with Conscience Corporate marketing to ‘Curating’ her own company. Michelle Smith was on a corporate marketing career trajectory, with a steady income and a comfortable life in London. Then she came across Oxfam, and something stirred. Michelle explains: “in the early 2000s I started following Oxfam and learning about the inequalities in supply chains. In particular, the supply chain for producing chocolate and how farmers were being exploited for us… by the time we got the finished product, the margin was being made by the retailer and distributor and not the actual producer. What the producer got wasn’t even a living wage. It was the first time I’d really come across this concept, and I was just mortified.” Around this same time, Michelle also found inspiration in ‘Business as Unusual’ – a book by the late Anita Roddick (founder of the Body Shop). And Michelle tells us it “changed everything” for her. Anita “showed another way of doing business and making business the force of good,” says Michelle. “She showed captains of industry that not only can you be socially responsible but you can be profitable. It just lit me up.” Michelle recalls London at the time as a hotbed of “gorgeous, design-led brands whose ethos was about a beautiful, quality product, but also their social impact piece and an equitable supply chain.” Fast forward a few years and the world began catching on and Michelle was back in Australia wondering ‘what’s next’. She’d just brought her first child into a rapidly changing world (think Trump just being elected and the doom of climate change upon us) and she wanted to channel her anxiety into something productive, something good. The long-bubbling idea of curated hampers, filled with only ethical, beautiful brands came into sharper focus. “I knew better, I know you’re meant to test the market. But I thought, who would not want this?” Immediately, Michelle’s marketing prowess kicked into gear: “I began cold calling and emailing B Corps, just from the B Corp directory.” She connected with executive assistants and marketing teams at like-minded organisations. And before she knew it, Curated with Conscience was real. Curated with Conscience today. Michelle reflects on the rollercoaster, baby-business times. It was COVID when things really exploded. With everyone shopping online and gifting to friends on the mend, it was a pandemic that became the catapult that launched her into the big leagues. She admits a bit sheepishly that at the start “There was no balance. Being a startup, systems and processes don’t exist, it’s all about revenue to start.” She also recalls a distinct moment when she knew it was time to hire and move into a dedicated space: “That landmark moment was when the business took over the house with two little kids under my feet. I was up until midnight most nights in fulfilment mode. I knew something had to give.” Today, things at Curated with Conscience have settled and the business has hit its straps. Michelle now has dedicated warehousing, several permanent team members and scalable assistance on speed dial for volume orders and her busiest periods. “We’ve just moved into a warehouse with SisterWorks. They economically empower refugee, migrant and asylum-seeker women. They’re doing our volume corporate orders now, so there’s another level of social impact to our hampers.” And Michelle has found a bit of a groove with her business life and home: “Now, work and home play nicely. It’s all so much more streamlined, and it feels more balanced.” When number nerds and ethical entrepreneurs collide: Working with Kearney Group. We’re proud to work with Michelle not only on her accounting and business affairs, but also on her personal tax, financial planning and household strategy as well. On initially finding Kearney Group, Michelle explains it all came down to values alignment. “It was a really beautiful connection because Kearney Group ordered a bunch of my hampers. I knew you were obviously values aligned. I had a look at your website and I thought ‘this is the type of organisation who I want to work with’. Then when we first met, Kearney Group explained the concept of creating the life I want, and actually looking at my personal goals, and I just thought ‘wow, that’s magic’.” There’s also this incredible peace of mind that comes with having an integrated advice team on hand. Michelle describes her sense of relief: “I know that smart people have my back. It just makes me feel safer. They’re good, smart people and they’re in my corner. It just reduces my stress levels. “It’s also powerful to just get things out of your head and be met with ‘let’s help you with a plan’. Kearney Group will show me a pathway, but flexibility within that pathway when we need it, so that’s been really helpful. “Ultimately, I feel safe. It’s not me trying to solve all the world’s problems. I’m just glad you exist.” (And now to break the fourth wall, I mean, pinch us. This is why we do what we do at Kearney Group. We’re glad you and your business exist, too, Michelle). That’s what I love about working with Kearney Group. I’d never thought of business that way. Business is actually meant to be a vehicle to create and support your personal life. It sounds so obvious, but until Kearney Group explained it, I didn’t realise I’m not meant to be stressed all the time. I’m not meant to be working crazy hours. Michelle Smith Founder of Curated with Conscience What’s next for Michelle? What are the future plans for Curated with Conscience? With the B2B side of Curated with Conscience established, with volume repeat orders and a steadily growing customer base, Michelle is pondering what’s next. “This is probably one for Kearney Group next time we meet but I’m debating the wisdom of going hard in B2C. We have the website, we get orders, but there are not a lot of resources invested in B2C at the moment.” And Michelle is beginning to wonder… ‘what if’. She’s also planning how to steadily increase their social impact as her business scales. Moreover, Michelle’s looking to up her (already incredible) donations and charitable giving. And lastly, Michelle tells us she’s looking at the prospect of curating their own branded products, or in working collaboration with a social enterprise to do so. But that’s “blue sky thinking,” she quips. As if blue skies have ever stopped her before (we believe in you Michelle!). Michelle’s conviction and vision is totally inspiring. We can’t wait to see where she takes Curated with Conscience. You’re the curator of your life and we’d love to help you on your journey. If reading this has sparked something deep in your own (sub)conscience, get in touch with our team of over 50 financial professionals and dreamers, doers, pioneers and visionaries.