June 12, 2018 Doing business unusual
As a brand born for life outside, the world around us is at the heart of everything KEEN does. Truly a business unusual, KEEN is challenging the status quo on the journey to reduce their impact and protect the open spaces where we live, work, and play.
Perhaps it can be pegged on its ownership – a purpose-driven, family-owned business – or perhaps on account of its youth – celebrating its 15th birthday this year – that has kept KEEN from growing jaded or indifferent to the problems that afflict our world. To date, KEEN has donated US 17 million to causes around the globe and has continued to show leadership in the footwear industry in process transparency efforts, manufacturing integrity and workplace responsibility. The company has, for example, made a big effort in striving to eliminate entire classes of harmful chemicals from the products they make: 7,000 kg of pesticides have been eliminated by using a natural odor control and their efforts over the last six years have made KEEN’s products over 95% PFC-free.
But it’s perhaps KEEN’s approach to the the challenges of our times that really sets the company apart, whereby in spite of its youth, KEEN doesn’t shy away from taking responsibility and taking the big fights.
The Banda Aceh Project
KEEN has been a bit different from day one. Already in 2004, this company then only one year old, redirected their entire annual marketing budget of US 1 million to support the relief efforts following the Indian Ocean Tsunami. With 61,000 dead, Banda Aceh, Indonesia was among the worst affected areas and it quickly became apparent that the scale of this disaster would have long-term impacts for the survivors.
After the initial relief efforts, KEEN decided to focus on this region. This commitment continues to this day, whereby KEEN helps train and equip villagers to plant fruit and shade trees in addition to reestablish the devastated mangrove forests that once provided protection from the ocean as well as a large share of the region’s food security and economic activity. The reforestation effort results have been remarkable, with 95% of the planted mangroves surviving and thriving and again providing the villagers with a steady source of income. Funding for these projects is realized through footwear sale events during trade fairs like ISPO and OutDoor Friedrichshafen.
Better Takes Action Campaign
While KEEN continues to show leadership abroad, they also see that there’s much to be done in our own backyards. Acknowledging that the environment – our air, water, climate and public lands – are constantly under attack, Keen wanted to help their employees and fans find their civic voice and take action to protect the things they were passionate about. That’s why they launched the Better Takes Action campaign, with the aim that together, fans and employees can take action today for a better tomorrow.
Protecting Open Spaces
In 2019, KEEN will take the next step in their Better Takes Action campaign to focus on protecting Open Spaces. Why? As more and more people are living in bigger cities (66% of the developed world population will live in cities by 2030), KEEN believes it is especially important to protect the open spaces in the urban areas we live in. Urban outdoor is becoming the new outdoor, and this is a trend seen across the globe. That’s why next year, KEEN wants to partner with different associations to see how they can protect these open spaces in urban landscapes.
KEEN doesn’t believe that they are here just to make shoes, but instead hold a longstanding philosophy that doing good, giving back and reducing impact through actions big and small can make a better world – the “KEEN Effect,” as they call it.
KEEN Footwear at OutDoor: Hall A1 / 401