THOUGHTS—What happened to Goodsmiths?

24 November 2020


4 minutes



10 years in the making

Australian social enterprises and the wonderful, ethical and responsible products and services they work so hard on, come rain, hail or shine, have for the past 10 years, been a huge inspiration to us. So much so that, in early 2017, we created a B2C (business to consumer) social enterprise marketing platform, Goodsmiths, to help spread the word and inspire a better way to consume.

For 3 years, the Goodsmiths website grew into a home away from home for 150 social impact businesses, providing access to thousands of sustainable and ethical products. It was a joy to keep our tribe of followers informed with marketing and promotion campaigns. As the number of ‘shares’ grew month on month, we celebrated every engagement in the knowledge that we were doing the right thing by us, supporting these impactful startups as best we could: with a whole new level of marketing and promotion which, best of all for them, was free.  

On the smell of an oily rag

To build and evolve this platform, we invested a huge amount of time and money. We bootstrapped our way to bringing Goodsmiths to life, dedicating ourselves to the creation and production of the marketing and media campaigns, and to pay our tiny (but mighty) team. Late nights matured into early starts, minimal wages needed bankrolling, our hard earnt savings quickly got sucked up.

As 2019 came to a close, our Christmas marketing campaign, The Good Xmas Trail, hit an all-new high. Over 50 businesses took part, paying a small fee to be involved (every cent was spent on buying media) and openly collaborating with the promotion. We always said, ‘a rising tide would lift all boats’ and that’s precisely what we witnessed. There was more traffic flowing to the Goodsmiths business websites than ever before with some converting to all-important sales, too.

With renewed enthusiasm ahead of what we’d predicted would be a pivotal year, we launched into 2020 and the next phase: To raise capital for growth and ensure Goodsmiths would at least break even in ’21 and begin to grow and sustain itself in ’22 and beyond. We were right about one thing. 2020 was a pivotal year.

The pandemic struck in March, the first of the lockdowns came into effect here in Melbourne and everyone knows what happened next. We all went home. The work dried up and with no revenue or financial support, there was no other choice than to put Goodsmiths into lockdown too. And, right now, that is where we remain.

Being a Goodsmith

To us, being a Goodsmith isn’t a business, it’s a way of living and a way of being in the world. But this idea needed building, sharing investing in. But, when the costs are greater than the returns and cash isn’t flowing, there’s really only one option. Stop spending money. So we slashed costs, cut jobs and took the hit. It’s been hard, so disappointing, kind of brutal. It’s made us sad, it generates pain in me to type it. But it was necessary. 

We’re not quitting, but we are carefully re-thinking it all. We’d love to keep this going, to build on the incredible efforts of our first 150 social enterprises and support the development of our social sector, but, having now experienced the harsh reality, we cannot do it alone.

Together we’ll get there

Our intention is to engage some partners to embed the support we need to develop a sustainable model, one that serves us all: the social enterprises, the consumers, and the team toiling behind the scenes. To date we’ve submitted a proposal to Victoria’s Social Enterprise Strategy for 2021+ and are on the lookout for partners, collaborators, and other Covid-escapers. 

If you’re interested to hear more about this journey, our plans for the future or have an idea to share, please drop us a line drop us a line for a chat. Feel free; we’re always up for a good story, a prickly question or even a fat wad of cash to forge more good.

A sample of 60 Goodsmiths