Merchandise Monday: Show Mother Earth Some Love

Tuesday, April 22 is Earth Day, an annual celebration during which events take place all over the world in support of environmental protection. According to Wikipedia, the first Earth Day was celebrated in 1970, and is now coordinated globally by the Earth Day Network and celebrated in more than 192 countries on April 22 each year.

In honor of Earth Day, this week we’re focusing on green, eco-friendly and socially responsible items available in our assortment. Why not do something good and give back to Mother Nature, the planet and the people who inhabit this home we all share!

Dreambean Candles Bliss Bag

Dreambean Candles products are handmade by participants of Bright Endeavors, a non-profit social enterprise and job training program committed to helping homeless and at-risk young women ages 16-25. Elevate the at-home spa experience with the Bliss Bag, 32 ounces of soothing fair trade Pink Himalayan soaking salt scented with invigorating, phthalate-free rosemary and mint oils. Each biodegradable Bliss Bag offers up to eight relaxing baths that draw out impurities and gently soften skin. Proceeds go toward support training, mentoring and permanent job placement for the young women that lovingly create and package each product.

Helping Hand Artisans 8.5-inch Square Bowl

Helping Hand Artisans is a social enterprise comprised of fair trade crafter and artisan collectives in the developing world. Its mission is to help these people create sustainable livelihoods for their families through the sale of their beautiful, eco-friendly crafts. They offer a line of fair trade, stylish, handmade accessories, housewares and gifts that are perfect for every occasion – each with an individual story. Freedom and independence ring true in these bold iron bowls. Artisans in India collect each individual iron ring from local repair shops and hand-weld each of the connection points. Helping Hand Artisans provides jobs and stability where few employment opportunities exist.

Smart Solar Umbrella Hanging Solar Lantern 8-pack

Looking to add a little light to your outdoor space? The Hanging Solar Lantern set is ideal for your patio or deck. Simply clip to an umbrella for ambient lighting around a table or even place on a flat surface. These open-bottom LED lanterns are eco-friendly and powered by an integrated solar panel that automatically turns the lamp on at dusk and off at dawn. When fully charged, they provide up to 8-hours of light per night. Lanterns include handle, hanging clips and replaceable rechargeable Ni-MH battery.

Superex® Deluxe Solar Powerstation with Air Compressor

Solar charging is really in right now and the Powerstation features a heavy-duty, large capacity battery that is a fully portable power source, perfect for cars, trucks, motorcycles, boats, RVs, tractors, power failures or situations without conventional power sources. Features include built-in professional strength 6-gauge booster cables with reverse polarity alarm and multiple power outlets – two 12-volt (auto), 110 volt (household appliances, 200 watts max.) and USB port (for charging PDAs, iPhones®, MP3 players and other portable devices).

Wagan® Solar eCharger™ 2.1A

The Solar eCharger™ 2.1A recharges mobile electronics with a built-in Li-ion battery that fully recharges in 5-8 hours via sunlight or 2-3 hours via AC adapter. Indicator lights when unit is ready to deliver power (either from DC or solar) and when batteries are charged. Uses superior monocrystalline solar cells and features two USB outputs. Accessories include AC and DC chargers and cell phone tips. 

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PIP Mag Talks to Dave Peer about the Benefits of Traditional Incentive Distributors

The recently released March/April 2012 edition of Premium Incentive Products (PIP) magazine features an article by guest columnist Ira Ozer, CPIM, titled, “10 Compelling Benefits of Traditional Incentive Distributors.” The article focuses on the reasons why many incentive companies are turning away from big retailers, such as Amazon, for their award fulfillment needs and coming back to incentive distribution houses.

Ozer states that the primary reasons for going with the big retailers in the first place were to be able to offer a broader selection of merchandise, and second, that the pricing seemed more attractive. As it turns out, this does not seem to be the case.

In the article, Ozer speaks to Hinda president Dave Peer about a couple of the benefits of using traditional incentive distributors. For one, incentive distributors tend to have longstanding industry experience in designing, administering and fulfilling programs for their clients. Peer says that these companies aren’t just interested in filling merchandise orders – they are committed to delivering a fully orchestrated system of recognition for program participants.

Additionally, Peer notes that incentive distribution companies are able to offer special events to their clients that retailers are not. Hinda offers the “Warehouse Dash” event in which program participants are given a specific amount of time to run up and down the aisles and grab as much merch as they can. Several other distributors offer similar events, and excitement is built around this premise, with food, music and cheering. Since distributors control their own warehouse space, this type of event is much more plausible than it would be with a big retailer.

Find out more reasons why companies are choosing traditional incentive distributors by clicking here.

PIP also showed some love this month to Hinda’s corporate social responsibility partner Helping Hand Rewards (HHR). The magazine features HHR product L.I.F.E. Jackets in its latest issue. Check out the blurb here and visit Helping Hand Rewards to browse more socially responsible merchandise options.

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Corporate Social Responsibility & Why It Matters

Our CEO, Michael Arkes, recently wrote a guest post for Premium Incentive Products Magazine. In addition to being our CEO, Arkes is also the founder of Helping Hand Rewards, which serves as a catalyst between incentive companies and social purpose businesses that produce merchandise.

The article discusses the importance of corporate social responsibility (CSR) - on both macro and micro levels. CSR contributes to corporate success by enhancing corporate reputation, building brand loyalty, increasing sales, attracting investors, improving recruitment and retention, and increasing employee engagement. Below is an exerpt from the article.

"There is growing recognition that businesses bear a responsibility for what happens in this new world. Beyond turning a profit and producing quality goods and services, they are expected to consider the impact of their actions not only on their shareholders, but also on their customers, employees, suppliers and communities.

Practiced by businesses of all sizes in just about every industry, corporate social responsibility takes a wide variety of forms. It can include green and sustainable business practices, philanthropy, business-relevant volunteerism, cause marketing and community activism. It also can be reflected in a company's basic corporate culture—including diversity and inclusion policies, compensation and benefits packages, and work-life balance initiatives—and in its procurement practices and supplier relationships."

Read the full article here. Do you think corporate social responsibility is an important business practice? How so? And, in what ways can companies become more socially responsible? Drop a comment and let's discuss.


Helping Hand Rewards helps connect social enterprises that produce merchandise and businesses who are looking to enhance their rewards and recognition programs while improving their role in corporate social responsibility. HHR products can add new meaning to your incentive programs and are good for business. From gourmet brownies to spa gift sets, utilizing products that were manufactured by a social purpose business creates added value for the sponsoring company and the recipient, while giving back to the community. Contact them for more information.

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Sustainable Business is Good Business

Incentive Magazine recently published an article on the benefits of offering socially responsible products in incentive programs. In the article, they revealed that new generations are attracted to companies with strong reputations for environmental and community responsibility. Thus, by rewarding employees with socially responsible products (such as those produced by social enterprises), employees know they are helping other people.

In a sense, this type of recognition serves several purposes. It recognizes employees, supports social enterprises and sends a powerful message to the community at large.

The article featured the success of Helping Hand Rewards, an organization that connects social enterprises with corporations interested in purchasing corporate gifts and employee rewards that help give back to underserved groups and communities. Our President and CEO, Michael Arkes, is the founder of HHR.

In the past five years, the number of companies interested in offering social enterprise products has grown significantly. In 2009, only three companies had a broad assortment of HHR products in their awards offerings. In 2010, that number more than doubled, and in 2011 that number will again double.

Are you incorporating socially responsible products in your award assortment? As an employee, are you being offered socially responsible products in your award assortment?

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Holiday Do-Goodies: Merch Monday

One of the best parts of the holidays is the food. Let's be honest. The amount of pastries and other goodies that we consme contribute to the underlying guilt behind "get fit" New Year's resolutions. Sweets are a huge part of the holiday culture. Just look at the season's cast of characters: gingerbread houses, Santa's milk and cookies, candycanes and the line "now bring us our figgy pudding" from the carol We Wish You a Merry Christmas.

What exactly is figgy pudding anyway?

If you're looking for the answer to the above question, you're at the wrong blog. This post does have the answer to what sort of holiday treats you can give (or self-indulge in) this season. Gives that not only taste amazing but also give back.

After making an appearance on Oprah's magazine, the Today Show and a recent mention on Good Morning America, Greyston Bakery's brownies are rapidly climbing the popularity ladder. For good reason. Their assortment of baked brownie treats are out of this world. So good in fact that they are the sole supplier of brownies to Ben and Jerry's for their chocolate fudge ice creams. Their brownie flavor expertise goes outside just the realm chocolate fudge. Additional flavors also include a walnut assortment and (this writer's personal favorite) blondie brownies.

What really makes Greyston Bakery's brownies shine isn't the's the social purpose behind their business. The bakery hires homeless, recently incarcerated and other at-risk individuals who may not be able to gain employment elsewhere. While working for the bakery, these individuals learn job skills, life skills and ultimately get on the path to a more sustainable life. As their slogan indicates, they don't hire people to bake brownies. They "bake brownies to hire people."

Greyston Bakery is just one of the several social enterprise partner groups of the socially responsible initiative Helping Hand Rewards. You can learn more about Greyston Bakery and all of HHR's other social good partnerships by clicking here. It's definitely something you'll want to learn more about.


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A More "Social" 2010 Motivation Show

Our booth in actionWhat a whirlwind of a week last week was.

Participating yet again in the Motivation Show at McCormick Place, we brought not one but two booths to the show this year. In addition to our recognizable conference area seen at the show the last couple of years, we also brought to the table a merchandise booth, showing off some of the hottest new trends in merchandise programs this year.

We also had the good fortune of being able to be positioned near Helping Hand Rewards, a socially responsible initiative founded by our current CEO Michael Arkes. Michael has done a lot of great work getting HHR off the ground the last couple of years, so it was a thrill to see him recognized by the IMA with a Circle of Excellence 'Social Responsibility' Award. Running HHR as a completely separate entity from Hinda, he's done a lot using his business know-how to help positively impact those less fortunate. Paul Hebert, managing director of I2I, even featured HHR on his monthly Influence Insiders monthly podcast. 

Social at the Show

We blogged a couple of weeks ago here about seeing social media at the show. In comparison to lastGiving the legs a breather year, there was definitely a great increase in participation through social channels and the Twitter hashtag #moti. Us along with Helping Hand Rewards initiated a geolocation effort, setting up Foursquare check-ins for our respective booths. Others also used Foursquare to check into the Motivation Show itself, resulting in a fierce competition for mayorship between @drewhawkins and @incentintel.

This year we tried to emphasize more sharing than marketing. We shared pictures of the show on Twitter and Helping Hand Rewards even uploaded some viral video of the show through YouTube, marking each video with the #moti hashtag. Others even shared learnings from keynotes and sessions on Twitter for those of us who may not have been able to attend. Though there were probably only around 20 people actively sharing, it showed a giant leap in our industry's adaptation of social media.

All in all we had a great time at the show this year. Of those of you that attended, what did you think of the show?

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