It’s all about transparency! Where Great Design and Business Ethics Collide

The Keebunga hard shell key case, is beautiful to look at, tactile and functional but it’s also completely revolutionary in how it’s being sold.

The small start up company, based in Cornwall, is responding to the growing desire in society for openness and honesty in business.

“We decided to give customers all the information they might want about our product, from where it is made to who it’s made by and a detailed break down of exactly how much it cost us and how much mark up we’re making,” says James Williams, Keebunga’s founder and director.

James, a committed surfer, is keenly interested in sustainability and protecting the environment. He found that in pursuing these ethics within manufacturing he was bombarded with so much conflicting information that the best way was to give customers all the facts about his products.

“There are so many decisions to make when creating a new product and often issues of ethics and sustainability are complex and not clear cut. In a way we went back to basics; we concentrated on great design, chose the best materials for the job and created a product that would last by making it easy to maintain by supplying replacements parts from our spares shop. We then searched tirelessly until we found the right manufacturing partner, which happened to be a Company in Bangalore who make quality components for clients such as Bentley, Victorinox and Leatherman. They also happen to have a reasonably solid Social Responsibility Policy. Essentially we are proud of what’s been created so are happy to share that information” says James.

“We made our choices about how we went forward and now we are giving our customers the ability to choose too.”

It’s a stand-out move from a highly principled company that could backfire if competitors use this data to source cheaper components and undercut Keebunga.

But James has faith in the principles of his customers too: “I believe that people want to see something new from business and that they will choose us because of our openness and ethical practices. I also know that our customers want something that actually works and will last. The current “rush to the bottom” business model relies on cheapening products to the extent that no sooner are they sold they end up in land fill. This type of consumption is causing real harm to both people and environment, and consumers get a raw deal too. ”

Keebunga now has 50 days to raise £25,000 through in order to put the key case into production and test its business model in the real world.