Nate founded Submission Shark in 2019 out of his passion for mixed martial art (MMA) and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ). With his martial artists fellas, they create training gear and lifestyle products that are carbon neutral and made with eco-friendly fabrics. They’ve taken one step further in their journey to heal the planet by going regenerative with Handprint.
Back in April, Nathan started using the Handprint Plugin on his Shopify store. He’s not only an early adopter but also an engaged user, who really played an essential role in our product development. We’re forever grateful for his insights, he made us better at what we do!
So it’s only obvious that we take some time and chat with Nate about Submission Shark’s journey through positive impact.
If you’re an e-commerce business and you’re inspired by his story, drop us a message!
Why did you start your journey to sustainability?
The journey towards sustainability started after visiting the Vancouver Aquarium where we learned about the negative impacts of plastics in our oceans and ecosystems. After that trip, we knew that there should be ways for brands to transition into more sustainable methods while still serving customers.
We were already working with partners that supplied eco-friendly materials for many of our products but we continued to search for more ways to become a more sustainable brand.
The first and easiest way was to offset our carbon outputs of deliveries at no extra costs for the customers. This can easily be done for many online brands. Shortly after that, we began adding organic cotton options.
We’re currently working to eliminate plastic from our packaging entirely and replace them with biodegradable materials. Luckily we found handprint.tech and decided to begin contributing towards cleaning up plastics in Indonesia immediately. Thanks to handprint’s ability to adjust the contribution size, we are able to remove 1kg of plastic per order resulting in each purchase reducing the overall net plastic in the environment.
What’s Submission Shark’s main challenge today regarding sustainability?
A major challenge was a plastic project offset where we could contribute a percentage or fixed amount to a non-profit at no extra costs for the customer seamlessly and have that impact tracked effectively. Luckily we found a great app in handprint.tech that does this perfectly.
Other than that, there haven’t been any major challenges, just strategic progression into adjusting a few processes in the logistics to ensure customer satisfaction while moving towards even further sustainable ideas such as closer fulfillment centers in targeted markets to reduce the overall carbon creation from transportation.
What’s most important for you when it comes to making a positive impact?
The most important thing is to inspire the martial arts community, to show that their efforts, although may seem small, will have a positive impact and a ripple effect that causes a wave of more brands to join the movement towards sustainability.
Not everyone will care about this, but we hope that Submission Shark can at least provide the option for those that do. Martial arts such as BJJ (Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu) often times do have a positive impact on us practitioners and to have a way to continue the positive impact into the lifestyle items, can be a great way to train while knowing that it’s worth it.
What made you choose Handprint over other solutions?
One concern that the Submission Shark team had was not having confidence that the money will get to where it needed to go. At the time we were researching the benefits of blockchain technology. That led us to handprint.tech’s public ledger to display the cashflow publicly and verify that an intermediary does not take a significant amount of the contribution.
Handprint.tech seemed to be connecting sustainability with efficient technology to improve the overall process and transparency and we believed the innovation would help make the most impact.
It took some serious research to find the best way to ensure that Submission Shark’s contributions based on customers’ purchases will be the most efficient when it comes to actual dollars ending up where it should rather than intermediaries that will take a large portion of it. Partnering with handprint.tech was a solution for this.
The clean calculators and visual aspects of the app helps make the impact communicated simple and effective as well.
How have your customers received the plugin initiative?
(NDLR: The Handprint plugin enables e-stores to finance regenerative projects with every purchase, at no cost for their customers)
We haven’t shared any news about the app plugin, although we plan to do so soon!
Overall, we have received positive feedback from our other eco-friendly efforts and would expect a positive reaction from this plugin as well as we cover any charges and do not cost the customer anything extra.
Have you seen any encouraging changes since you started using the plugin?
It’s still early as we haven’t been using the app for long but I do anticipate more conversions and enthusiasm to purchase when the community understands that their support makes a positive impact.
What’s your favourite feature on our platform and why?
My favorite feature is the live “impact badge” that can be displayed on the website. I think that visuals are very helpful in showing the impact in a simple and elegant way.
What’s a tool you’d love to have and is clearly missing?
A feature that would be interesting would be a way to reward customers with a ‘carbon credit’ or ‘plastic credit’ where they can ‘burn’ the tokens or potentially sell them to other companies that have exceeded their limit for cash to help support their training costs, competition fees or any other living expenses.
Although the ‘sustainable credit market’ is still being worked out by policymakers and legislation, there are some interesting things going on in the blockchain space that allows for tokens to be matched with carbon credits.
This way the brand (Submission Shark) contributes by reducing the net carbon and net plastics while the customer’s/supporters benefit from digital rewards that can be exchanged for cash, store credits, or destroyed to ultimately reduce their impact.
A way to gamify the experience for customers can be an interesting way to keep the community engaged and enthusiastic about these projects. A platform where customers can display their username and the awarded carbon credits associated with their account as a leaderboard to recognize their contributions, similar to Ant Financial’s Ant Forest to create a friendly competition towards sustainability would be a fun and effective feature.
Email templates to help communicate the impact, and more data on exactly how handprint.tech is using the funds and the impact that it makes on both the communities as well as the global impact that can be easily plugged into the website would be great as well.
From your experience, what would you say customers care most about today when it comes to sustainability?
That’s a good question.
Trust and efficiency of their contributions towards making a real impact. I think that there are many reasonable reasons why a customer may not trust that their impact will actually make it to projects. Luckily handprint.tech addresses these issues with blockchain technology and transparency. The projects that the contributions go to also incorporate innovative technology to efficiently clean up plastic.
It’s important that supporters can see the impact that their contributions and purchases have on the planet and to have peace of mind knowing that the money actually gets to where it needs to go to have the most impact.
This community are martial artists. I think intuitively, many of us understand the importance of longevity and sustainability as it is a combat sport. If a training practice is unsustainable and prone to injury, it’s easy to recognize the need to adjust methods, to allow for more time doing what we love. Improvement of skills is a common goal and I think that translates into improving the planet as well.
There are always ways to do more when it comes to sustainability as there is plenty of work to be done, but I think that just knowing that brands are focused on consistently upgrading their processes to improve the overall net outcome, shows customers that their purchasing power is a positive one and their dollars are an impactful vote towards a cleaner planet.
Do you have any advice for those who might be interested in being regenerative but aren’t sure where to start?
Get educated on the subject to the best of your abilities and begin with taking small steps to minimize your impact by switching everyday products used within your business. It looks like handprint.tech has some great blogs about the subject in general. Another quick way would be to explore handprint.tech and calculate the impact that your business can make. You may be surprised by how much of an impact you can easily make with an app like handprint.tech that will also help create a positive community around your brand.