As a part of my series about “individuals and organizations making an important social impact”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Jaclyn Byles and Jessica Jenkins.
Jaclyn Byles and Jessica Jenkins are both sisters, and mothers committed to ensuring the best future possible for their gang of littles and subsequent generations. Quickly after becoming mothers, they noticed the ever-present need for batteries, a desire to streamline and simplify ways to ensure having household necessities (like batteries) on hand and organized, and a sustainable way of disposing of depleted batteries. Jaclyn holds a Master of Public Health and has flourished in leadership and policy making within diverse health care settings. Jessica, a Master of Social Work, maintains a full-time private practice engaged in supporting children, youth, and mothers in the Perinatal period. While raising their young children, and leveraging their experiences within their own careers, they co-created Better Battery Co. (BBCo).
BBCo is committed to sustainability; they developed the first ever certified carbon neutral batteries with a seamless recycling program which not only makes the process of ordering, receiving, and disposing of alkaline batteries easier for consumers and businesses but also makes a big difference for our planet. They are committed to operating within a sustainable business model and believe that a circular economy is necessary to ensure the future!
Together they envisioned and gave life to BBCo; a true family brand, a product of collaboration; and a simple and organized way to purchase, store, and recycle alkaline batteries.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path and point in your life?
Thank you for inviting us to join! We are so grateful to be chatting as part of this series. We are both sisters and mothers committed to ensuring the best future possible for our gang of little ones and their subsequent generations. Quickly after becoming mothers, we noticed the ever-present need for batteries, a desire to streamline and simplify ways to ensure having household necessities (like batteries) on hand and organized, and a sustainable way of disposing of depleted batteries. Jaclyn holds a Masters degree in Public Health and has flourished in leadership and policy making within diverse health care settings. Jessica, who holds a Masters degree in Social Work, maintains a full-time private practice engaged in supporting children, youth, and mothers in the Perinatal period. While raising our young children and leveraging our experiences within our careers, we co-created Better Battery Co. (BBCo) with our father, Greg, who has a wealth of experience within the consumer electronic and logistics fields.
Together we envisioned and gave life to BBCo; a true family brand, a product of collaboration, and a simple, organized way to purchase, store, and recycle alkaline batteries.
It has been said that our mistakes can be our greatest teachers. Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
We love to look back on where we started — specifically when it comes to our branding, design, and OG marketing materials. We started out doing everything in house but quickly realized that that is not our area of expertise, and we would need to leverage professional relationships and skill sets to present and get noticed in the way that our brand deserved. Even as a small family company we learned that there is immense value in recognizing your inherent skill sets along with where your deficits are. The ket is to not to see those deficits as a lack, but rather as an opportunity for collaboration and delegation for efficiency.
Can you describe how you or your organization is making a significant social impact?
BBCo is committed to sustainability within our industry. We developed the first ever certified carbon neutral batteries with a seamless recycling program which not only makes the process of ordering, receiving, and disposing of alkaline batteries easier for consumers and businesses, it also makes a big difference for our planet. We are committed to operating within a sustainable business model and believe that a circular economy is necessary to ensure our future.
We are the first battery company to offer a solution to make battery recycling easy and ensure that as many batteries as possible are diverted from the landfill. We are also committed to reducing our carbon footprint. We manufacture our batteries in a carbon neutral facility and offset the CO2 emissions released by the production, distribution, and disposal of our batteries by investing in carbon reducing methods like wind farms, tree planting, and truck stop electrification through Carbonfund.org.
Can you tell us a story about a particular individual who was impacted or helped by your cause?
We don’t have an individual story per se; but we love the impressive feedback we’ve been getting from our customers!
- “Long lasting and earth friendly!!!”
- “The best, and the only climate pledge friendly battery on Amazon, when the batteries die, send ’em back to be recycled. No more dead batteries rolling around in my junk drawer.”
- “Green batteries, well here they are, you can feel good about the power they used to make them! The collection is impressive, the box is even more impressive, and they seem to work great. Wonder if the market will pay a premium for green batteries, I sure hope so, love the mission, love the product, count me in!”
- “Thank you @betterbatteryco for the doing the work you do and giving us a better way to power our things!”
- “The easiest green switch you can make.”
- “A great idea whose time has come!”
Are there three things the community/society/politicians can do to help you address the root of the problem you are trying to solve?
Absolutely! As a society, we can be mindful of the products we purchase and use and ensure that we are disposing of that product in the most sustainable way — reusing, repurposing, upcycling, recycling etc. We can vote with our dollars and make conscious efforts to support companies that are operating with environmental sustainability and social initiatives at the forefront. And politicians and governing bodies can create policy and hold large corporations accountable for minimizing and offsetting their own emissions and ensuring that end of life procedures are in place for the products used.
Are you working on any new or exciting projects now? How do you think this might help people?
We are in the process of creating a brand-new product — rechargeable batteries. We thoughtfully listened and considered feedback from our customers who challenged us to optimize our offerings by adding a line of rechargeable. Rechargeable batteries are a wonderful and efficient option for consumers who want to eliminate one time use products in their home. And of course, in keeping with the BBCo mission, our rechargeable will be carbon neutral and part of our unique recycling program. Stay tuned!
What you are doing is not easy. What inspires you to keep moving forward?
Belief in each other, belief in our offering, and a belief that circular economy and product end-of-life management is the way forward in our current culture of consumption and climate fears. Also, our “Why,” which is rooted in being able to afford our children a healthy planet and experience it as we have been able to. And of course, our inspiring community of partners, believers, consumers, and organizations that support us.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why? Please share a story or example for each.
- Not everyone is going to like / agree with / see value in what you are doing, and that’s OK.
It can be hard not to take criticism of your brand and product personally — we used to get really riled up about negative comments on our social media but quickly realized that you can’t make everyone happy, and you can’t take everything personally.
2. Working with family has its own challenges. 😊
Working with family is immensely rewarding but does come with challenges. We feel lucky (most days!) that we are involved in this venture together and we are continuously involved in conversation about how we can better support one another, leverage our individual skill sets, and who’s on baby duty!
3. Things won’t always go as planned.
Our original launch date was set for 2020 — but as did the rest of the world, we had to pivot. There were so many elements outside of our control and instead of feeling deterred and disappointed, we tried to embrace that extra time to optimize our offering and problem solve.
4. Change can be hard.
You can create a sustainable simple switch for an everyday commodity like a battery which seems like a no brainer, but people will push back, not see the value, or simply do not want to change their buying patterns. We understand that change takes time and people need to understand the value in both the long and short term to make a switch. We are in this for the long game and hope to educate people about BBCo and the difference one small change can make.
5. You will do it wrong — you will learn — and your company will evolve.
We started out thinking big, wanting to market the BBCo product, disrupt the market and do it as quickly as possible, when in reality we learned we need to slow down and take the time to educate about BBCo and the need to make simple changes in your everyday life. Our focus has switched and is now about educating people on the recycling process and encouraging people to look at sustainable end-of-life options for their household products. We want to be a leader as a company and encourage and help other companies to make sustainable changes. Even something as simple as the batteries they are using in their head offices, on their campuses, in their hotel rooms, in their homes etc. can have a sustainable solution. We are committed to making changes that reflect our customers’ needs and are focused on efforts to grow our company in a way that feels right to us, at our own pace and in a way that we can be proud of.
You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)
Well, it’s not anything monumental or anything that hasn’t been said before. But in terms of the most amount of good for the most amount of people, we’d love to encourage people to live simply, to do good and to be kind to one another. Small ripples, big impact.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“No matter what people tell you, words and ideas can change the world” — Robin Williams
A conversation between two moms frustrated about battery usage and the product end-of-life can have a big impact when you believe in yourself, each other, and the mission of the company. When you are committed to working hard at the process and building a brand you can be proud of, the outcome has the potential to be something bigger than you ever dreamed!
Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would like to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them.
Hands down Jessica Alba, the OG Mom-prenur! We admire her entrepreneurial pursuits, her vision of The Honest Company and simplifying access to household necessities, her graciousness with her successes, and her commitment to fierce female advocacy, all while being a dedicated mother. She is a superwoman and such a source of inspiration!
How can our readers further follow your work online?
Follow us on our socials + blog!
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent on this. We wish you only continued success.