Congratulations to our president, Susan Braverman, for winning the Social Enterprise Top Hero Award! Susan was nominated by Melanie Conn at Common Thread Co-op for her work in supporting Common Thread and helping them grow their social enterprise.
Read more about the award here. Or read below for Melanie’s nomination letter for Susan.
We are thrilled to nominate Susan Braverman, the owner of the Flag shop/TextileImage for the 2013 Top Hero Award.
We met Susan in 2009 when we announced the incorporation of Common Thread at a Vancity Community Foundation event. We spoke briefly at the vent about our social enterprise which upcycles street banners into bags made by a network of producers who have employment barriers but thrive in our accommodating work environment.
Susan was at the gathering and has been our hero since that day. She offered her congratulations after our presentation and asked what she could do to help. And then we learned that this is a woman who walks the talk!
Within a month we had set up our four industrial sewing machines – until then languishing in storage – at the Flag Shop’s own production facility in a rent-free arrangement. Now we were really in business, able to undertake bigger contracts more efficiently. As an added bonus, the Flag Shop uses it state-of-the-art printing equipment to make the large labels for branding some of our bags, giving us a competitive edge.
When we developed an aggressive strategy to market our delegate bags for the 2012 International Year of Co-operatives, Susan’s communications staff helped to design our marketing package. Then we used the Flag Shop’s email platform to distribute it to co-ops and credit unions across Canada. The result was nothing less than fantastic and helped us to double our sales from the previous year.
And there’s more: every Flag Shop customer gets information about Common Thread with their banner order. As well, Susan encourages Flag Shop staff to take Common Thread bags to meetings with prospective clients. Her staff also refer anyone who asks for information about re-purposing their old banners directly to our co-op.
Increased sales mean we need to continually replenish our banner inventory. From the start, Susan has made sure Common Thread had a steady supply of used banners. In addition to banners returned to the Flag Shop, she promotes Common Thread in other ways: we’re featured on the company’s website, and if you’re calling the Flag Shop, we’re mentioned on their telephone “hold” message.
The most recent example of Susan’s commitment to Common Thread is our new micro retail outlet at The Flag Shop where we display our bags. It’s impossible to miss since it’s marked by a spectacular banner stand with our logo, another gift from The Flag Shop.
We have also had the pleasure and good fortune to benefit from Susan’s direct input since she became a volunteer Director on Common Thread’s board. She brings her experience in sales and production to the table, often helping us to trouble-shoot production issues herself or with the help of her staff.
Anyone who knows Susan appreciates her exuberance, her optimism and her generosity. She is our cheerleader, our go-to gal and always in our corner.
Susan’s other volunteer roles:
- She mentors future entrepreneurs through the Canadian Youth Business Foundation from 2009-present
- She is a past President of the Better Business Bureau (1999-2000) and an active member
- She was the founding member of the 4th Avenue Merchants Association, now the Kitsilano 4th Avenue BIA of which she is the current president
- Susan was a founding member and former president of the Vancouver High Spirits Choral Society and its president from 2002-2010
- She is a teacher for ACIM Gather Radio from 2011-present
- The Flag Shop routinely donates flags to organizations across Canada, such as One Epic Journey, Love World Run, Burnaby Youth Sustainability Network, and Students In Free Enterprise (SIFE) at SFU. To honour the International Year of Co-ops, the company donated $5000 to the Canadian Co-operative Association.
In 2012 The Co-operators created a video about Common Thread which highlighted Susan’s role with the co-op. Although it’s not accessible in print the video can be viewed here:
Education and work experience: The Flag Shop was started by Susan’s mother, Doreen in 1975. Susan managed the Vancouver store in the 1990s before she left to get her degree at UBC in Education and French Immersion. She returned to the family business in 2006 when her mother retired and bought the business in 2010. Her management of the business has been immensely creative and productive: moving its emphasis from flag-retailing and silk-screening to the more efficient digital printing. She also developed Echotex®, the only 100% recycled banner fabric in Canada especially made for digital printing.