School of Public Policy Capstones

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Socially-driven businesses straddle the line between non-profits and for-profits with their dual goals of mission and profit. These goals will sometimes come into conflict—therefore a social enterprise must have policies in place to ensure a balance between profit and mission. This paper explores this topic through the case of Joya Bride, a socially-driven for-profit wedding dress company. The paper begins with a description of Joya Bride and then introduces the key research question: How does a socially-driven for-profit balance mission and profit? Next is a literature review on social enterprise, problems in the clothing industry, and women and development. A description of research methods follows. Research methods employed are a literature review, interviews with industry experts, a review of existing social enterprises, and producer interviews/visits.

The analysis section of the paper presents the mission-driven documents and policies developed for Joya Bride as part of this capstone project. Each mission-driven aspect was researched through academic books and articles, expert interviews, and by examining existing examples from organizations similar to Joya Bride. With this research and these examples in mind, a version was created for Joya Bride. The first document created is mission and vision statements for the company. Joya Bride’s mission is to provide brides with a gorgeous wedding dress that matches their values of social justice, environmental sustainability, and empowering women. We accomplish our mission by partnering with women’s cooperatives and other ethical producers who offer safe, fair, and empowering work. By partnering with these groups we support women to help themselves, their families, and their communities.

The second document developed is a Code of Conduct for Joya Bride producer partners. The code of conduct is framed largely in the positive, stating what Joya Bride believes in and is working toward, rather than against. The third mission-driven aspect is internal governance structures including: (1) proposed membership for an advisory board including two seats reserved for mission-focused individuals, (2) a decision to give money to social and environmental causes, and (3) nine internal accountability principles taken from a fair trade governing body and applied to Joya Bride. The fourth mission-driven policy developed for Joya Bride is an evaluation proposal. Creating the evaluation proposal prompted many important questions and helped guide the creation of the mission. The evaluation can be used now and for many years in the future.

The paper concludes with broader a discussion of mission versus profit and the role the documents and policies described above will play in ensuring a balance between the two goals. Finally, the full text of the documents and policies described in the paper are included in the paper or the appendix for reference. This paper is intended not only as a Capstone project to conclude the master’s degree in public policy and administration, but also as a founding document for Joya Bride. Sections of this document could be presented to potential funders, employees, or other interested parties. Hopefully, this research and the documents created will also be useful to other socially-driven for profits as they consider how to balance mission and profit.