By Nehaa Bimal
With its use of sustainable materials and environmentally positive practices, Vearthy, a Canadian and 100% indigenous-owned company, is the passion project of founder Jordan Dooley. By creating fabric out of bamboo, a renewable natural resource, Vearthy sells sustainable textiles.
The business’ first product is its bamboo lyocell bedding which is made through an all-organic production process. Launched in early 2021, Vearthy’s emphasis on sustainability comes from Dooley’s love for nature and the great outdoors.
Vearthy’s Many Hatted Founder: From B.C. Park Ranger to Entrepreneur
To understand the inspiration behind Vearthy, you have to tap into Dooley’s childhood which was spent outdoors, whether that be camping in his hometown of Orillia, Ontario or visiting family in Manitoulin Island, home of the Anishinabek of Whitefish River First Nation.
Dooley’s professional background is in the natural resource sector, which serves him well as a park ranger with B.C. Parks in Squamish, British Columbia.
“I decided to start a business to sustain myself through the winter months which I have off as a park ranger. What I try to make aligns with things I believe in as I really care about the environment. All the conservation work, data collection, and nature projects I get to be part of as a ranger have reflected back onto the business,” said Dooley.
However, his entrepreneurial mindset came from attending the Adventure Tourism Business Operations program at College of the Rockies in Golden, B.C., which sets students up with the business skills required to join the ecotourism industry, including entrepreneurship, marketing, sustainability, and business training.
Dooley’s interest in environmentalism, business, and graphic design all came together when he created Vearthy, which is an e-commerce platform run through Shopify. And it’s a one-man show. While the website is fully automated, Dooley has been managing and overseeing everything since day one of Vearthy.
Company Goals: Building a Vearthy Community Around Health and Wellness
Scrolling through the Vearthy site, there is a section dedicated to nature blogs with articles such as ‘Bamboo and the Fight Against Climate Change,’ as well as a section on sustainable tips. Dooley hopes to grow Vearthy into a community of conscious consumers who care about the health and wellness of the planet and the individual.
“The community is the biggest goal this year. Finding a similar audience, bringing them together, and using that as the leverage to get the word out about sustainable products and making a positive impact in the consumer world. We’re trying to get people’s mindsets to focus on high quality, low impact goods,” said Dooley.
Further down the road, Dooley hopes to turn Vearthy into a B Corporation, a business that has both social and environmental impact, or become carbon neutral certified.
Giving Back: Experience in the Indigenous Entrepreneurship Program
As an entrepreneur, Dooley has had a lot of takeaways from the Indigenous Entrepreneurship Program developed by the Sprott School of Business and the Innovation Hub at Carleton University. The modules that he really learned from were the ones on pitching a venture and pitch presentations.
“How to form a good pitch is super important and it doesn’t matter if it’s a pitch for new investors or for funding. It’s good to have a solid foundation and template to follow, and so far, that’s been one of the most helpful modules.”
“Carleton’s Innovation Hub may be able to help me out with some behind-the-scenes action at Vearthy, as well,” said Dooley, on the resources offered within the Indigenous Entrepreneurship Program.
Though bamboo, an invasive species, cannot be grown naturally in Canada, Dooley would love to move his business and the assembly of his products to the Birch Island area, up in Manitoulin Island on Whitefish River First Nation.
“I would love to have everything run out of Whitefish River First Nation and have the opportunity to bring economic development to the Nation. Not that it’s a huge corporation, but a few jobs can make a difference. It would be great if we could produce everything on reserve, on-site and have it made in Canada,” said Dooley.
Advice for Young Entrepreneurs on Launching their First Business
In launching Vearthy, Dooley has had his fair share of challenges and finding initial funding for his business was one of the big ones.
“I was putting a lot of my own money into the business in the beginning before it was self-sustaining. In the grand scheme of things, it wasn’t all my savings, but it feels disheartening when you’re putting your hard-earned money into it and there’s not a huge return to investment, yet,” he said.
However, he encourages young entrepreneurs who have a business idea they want to launch to “just do it.”
“You have to realize that it might not be a huge return on investment right away but it’s not an overnight game. As long as the business and the numbers make sense, you can find resources, and business proposal templates and take advantage of them to start something,” he advises.