On Thursday, February 6, Honeysuckle traveled to Greenpoint, Brooklyn for the unique panel event Socially Responsible Advertising: A Conversation with Wimze Digital. Wimze, a Brooklyn-based social storytelling agency, works exclusively with mission-driven wellness brands and organized the evening not only to educate on conscientious brand strategy, but to do good on a more immediate level. Proceeds from the event were donated to WIRES Australian Wildlife Rescue Organisation (Australia’s largest wildlife rescue and rehabilitation nonprofit), and Rescue City, a New York nonprofit committed to rescuing abused dogs and fostering them with new, loving forever homes. Rescue City also brought its cuddliest members to the Wimze event for a Puppy Meet ‘n’ Greet.

The crowd packed the chic co-working lobby of Greenpoint’s Bond Collective (the company has numerous curated boutique spaces in and outside of NYC). The CBD beverage manufacturer Recess, offered beer, rosé, and the brand’s signature non-alcoholic flavored sparkling water infused with hemp extract and adaptogens. After mingling with the puppies and a hilarious set by Comedy Central’s Mary Beth Barone, a happy buzz settled over the attendees as everyone settled in to talk business.

Wimze co-founder and CEO Sydney Stein led an all-female panel centered on socially conscious advertising, which featured topics ranging from mission, marketing, financing, and representation. This holistic approach fit well with Wimze’s concept of branding as a tool for cultural power, and its ability to shape conversations in order to find solutions for macro-level issues. Among the distinguished panelists were Laura Kraber, co-founder and CEO of beauty brand Fluide; Danniel Swatosh, co-founder of cannabis brand Humble Bloom; Eva Goicochea, CEO and founder of Maude; and Jennifer Swartley, Head of Marketing at Journey Meditation.

Kraber spoke of the challenges in bootstrapping a startup company, and the inherent struggles when both creating and distributing a brand. Fluide was created as a non-binary makeup line for all sexual and gender identities, inspired by Kraber’s experience as a parent of Gen-Z teens and her desire to create a safe space where those identified with the LGBTQ community could freely express themselves. The company’s mission is to support today’s teens in their self-expression, and offer an authentic brand for new and emerging representations of beauty. Its products are also vegan, cruelty-free, and free of parabens and phthalates. With a large Instagram following of over 25,000 and growing, Fluide looks to be a success. However, Kraber emphasized the constant need for community and inclusivity to overcome the obstacles that startups face.

Swatosh explained how she founded Humble Bloom with culture curator Solonje Burnett, and how their Brooklyn-based boutique firm focuses on humanizing experiences with cannabis. Some of their services include brand strategy, content curation, networking and multi-sensory experiences. The latter category has brought Humble Bloom sizable renown within the cannabis industry, their semi-annual “field trips” and solstice celebrations combine meditation, comedy and art, culinary experiences, vendor expos and more. According to Swatosh, her and Burnett’s abundant word-of-mouth way of doing business helps them succeed in the cannabis space by creating awareness, education, and community.

Swartley, who heads marketing for the international meditation app Journey Meditation, spoke of ritual practice as a daily need to be incorporated into one’s routine. She seemed blissful when speaking of meditation as central to the company culture. Meanwhile, Goicochea stressed the importance of transparency regarding sexual health. She said that the subject isn’t addressed enough either in brand strategy or in cultural conversation, often to women’s detriment, and must be brought to the forefront.

It was refreshing to see a women-led panel talk about the need for social awareness, conscious choices and business in relation to financial need. During these times of deep financial division in our societies, one often wonders how the playing field will ever level. By listening, learning and slowly supporting brands like these, there is a great chance we may begin to do so.