The ease with which we, in Western Europe, turn on the tap to make coffee, take a shower, do the dishes and spray our plants, obscures a world-wide problem. In many parts of the world – but particularly in Asia and Africa – there’s either a dearth of water or it is simply not easily accessible. Though we all feel this to be a fundamental injustice, it took until 2010 and 2015 to make safe drinking water and sanitation, respectively, a human right – just like education is, or health care.
When the United Nations declared this to be binding international law, Patrick Munsters and Carel Neuberg pricked up their ears. They wanted to contribute to the process of bringing this law into effect: to bring safe drinking water and sanitation to all human beings on Earth, starting with bettering the situation of those most affected.
By founding the lifestyle brand Marie Stella Maris, Munsters, who is the founder of fashion company Scotch & Soda, and Neuberg saw an opportunity to practice ‘corporate social responsibility’: a sense of responsibility towards the community and environment (both ecological and social) in which it operates.
How exactly does Marie Stella Maris go about this admirable mission? The mineral water and luxurious skincare products that the company offers inspire its consumers to be more conscious and helps them make the choice to contribute – while also purchasing a nourishing, hydrating and beautifully designed product.
For each item sold, a fixed amount (5 cents per litre of mineral water, and 5% of skincare turnover) is donated to clean drinking water projects worldwide. So far, Marie Stella Maris has been able to contribute more than 800.000 euro.
We speak to Carel Neuberg about Marie Stella Maris’ successful journey – in the wider world as well as within their company – to improve the world through consumer behavior and corporate conscience.
Why the focus on water and skincare products?
When you’re busy realising access to clean drinking water and improving lives, it is also of great importance to pay attention to sanitary services and hygiene. The direct link between the two inspired us to offer care products next to our mineral water assortment.
How would you define corporate social responsibility?
Seeing a problem you wish to solve and making an effort to contribute as an organisation. To make having a social impact part of your business model.
Do you have specific ideas on how to run a business internally – does the sustainability flow over into human relationships at work?
Our social mission is of great importance, but it is not a part of everyone’s daily work. Therefore, every year we organise a foundation day, on which the whole team (from logistics to sales) works on a subject related to our foundation and the water projects. Also, we highly value transparency and team work and organize regular team updates through which the different teams share information about their focus and challenges.
What is the core value of the products you are offering?
‘Caring’ is the common thread. As a company we care for others, we contribute and make sure more people receive access to clean water worldwide. We believe those who take good care of themselves can also take care of someone else. And our products enable people to be part of this empowering process, by taking care of your own body on the inside and out. Marie-Stella-Maris mineral water hydrates internally, whilst our care products nourish, hydrate and protect the skin.
Fosbury and Sons chooses to serve Marie Stella Maris’ mineral water. Which core principles does Marie Stella Maris share with us?
We both want to make a difference in the quality of life; Fosbury & Sons through offering a new kind of (quality) workspace and Marie-Stella-Maris through contributing to clean water projects worldwide and making good quality products. Both of our companies are very entrepreneurial.
© Marie Stella Maris