Rivanna Natural Designs started in 2001 with a simple objective: to create green jobs for refugees and others in our community who needed safe, meaningful, and rewarding employment.
Creating Green Jobs
We began by consulting the experts. The Charlottesville, VA office of the International Rescue Committee (IRC) helped us understand the workplace needs of IRC's refugee clients. We started a small manufacturing company, accessible by public transportation, with flexible hours, training for non-English speakers, decent benefits, and living wages.
To create green manufacturing jobs, we needed to make green products. The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) provided the way forward. Sustainable forestry certification enabled us to formalize our commitment to the environment and be confident about the sources of our raw materials. Working with FSC's third-party certifier, Scientific Certification Systems, we received our FSC chain-of-custody certification in January 2002, months before we shipped our first product.
We still partner with IRC, FSC, and SCS today, and are deeply grateful to them for their support.
Creating Green Products
Our original plan was to make FSC-certified corporate gifts - small items that could be hand crafted by recently arrived non-English speakers. Within months of opening, a prospective client asked us to make plaques. We gave it a shot. The client liked them, so we made more. Today, we design and build eco-friendly plaques and awards for organizations in 42 states and Canada. We enable our clients to honor our planet as they honor others, and we love our work.
Without the burden of legacy products or practices, we have been free to define our work and our outputs according to our own sense of what is best for clients and right for the environment. In addition to FSC-certified wood, we have added other eco-friendly materials to our portfolio. We've also established solid supply-chain partnerships to help us provide beautiful products.
Promoting and Celebrating a Greener Future
We believe products that express gratitude, reward performance, and celebrate excellence should harm neither the planet nor the people who create, purchase, or receive them. Over the past eight years, we've done our best to introduce fresh thinking and elegant award designs while upholding our commitment to our planet and community. As we look ahead, we plan to create more elegant, innovative products and deliver the best service imaginable. With the help of our extraordinary and inspiring clients, we will create more green jobs and find better ways to give back.