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Key Idea: Attach Yourself to a Cause

The Sundance Catalog is dedicated to helping American artisans by marketing their creations and generating cash to support their unique work and to to protect wilderness areas.   After watching this video and reading the Q&A (case study guide), you can go to the homepage  for this episode or click on the Key Question  for other insightful answers about best business practices.

Key Question:


If you have a cause you believe in and use profits from the business to fund it, the cause is a motivator stronger than any other force could be. The cause is bigger than money, or fame or power.

In 1969, Robert Redford purchased land at the base of 12,000-foot Mount Timpanogos in Utah's Wasatch Mountains. The reason Mr. Redford bought the 6,000 acres was to preserve it and at the same time create a community that would foster artists. That is putting your money where your mouth is.

Debra St. Claire, founder of EcoNatural, maker of vegetarian breath mints, is working to support the Ethno-Medicine Preservation Project. This group is buying land to preserve the medicinal plant knowledge of indigenous cultures.

Supporting a cause is good for at least two reasons.

First, customers like to buy products when they know some profits are going to a good cause.

Most all small business owners work in their communities and make donations to local causes. But several of the ones we have studied here have had "the cause" as part of a corporate strategy and are committed to a particular issue.

Two Hands in Providence works with a school for children with disabilities.

Katz Deli gives 10% of its sales from one particular table to Aids Research.

Jim Morris T-Shirt exists to help groups raise money to "save the earth."

Second, employees are energized by helping others. Coming to work every day is not just about making money at Sundance or EcoNatural. It is about working hard for the benefit of something bigger than yourself.

People who suffer from feelings of uselessness are often urged to go out and do something for someone else. Stop studying your bellybutton and, by all means, stop your whining.

The same is true for companies. If you focus all of your attention on yourself and how much money you and each employee is going to make, cynicism sets in.

Think about it

Is there a cause that you could be involve in that would be meaningful and energizing to you and your team?

Clip from: Sundance Catalog

Meet Harry Rosenthal (above) and Brent Beck

Provo Canyon and Salt Lake City, Utah: In this episode of the show, we go into a pristine part of the Rocky Mountains, a place Robert Redford loved and wanted to preserve. To sustain that dream and help pay for it all, he turned to Brent Beck and Harry Rosenthal to implement an idea he had for a catalog business. Brent knew the products. Harry knew direct mail. But, unlike most of us, these three had a fast start for this business -- they were leveraging the Robert Redford brand.

Business is not easy for any of us. When Redford applied for his initial loan from a bank, he was rejected just like the rest of us.  He turned to investors, bought the land  to preserve it from housing developers, and began thinking of how to turn it into a business. That was in the late '60's.

Even celebrities were once "less than famous" and had to crawl, scrap,  risk... take a flying leap, just like the rest of us.

Go to all the key ideas and video of this episode...

Sundance Catalog

Jessica Basin, Sr. Marketing Manager, Robert Redford, founder

3865 West 2400 South
Salt Lake City (and Provo), UT 84120

Visit our web site:

Office: 801-975-5238

Business Classification:
Catalog, direct mail

Year Founded: 1989

Attach Yourself to a Cause

BRENT: And then years later, Bob came to us and he said, `I want to create a vehicle by which to fund the artistic and environmental disciplines that I believe in, but I don't want to do it out of my pocket. How can I create something that I can make enough money on to do that?'

HATTIE: So what do you think makes things so unique about...

SCOTT: Well, let me show you.


SCOTT: Come over here. I'll show you some stuff that...


SCOTT: A lot of times, it's the little things that make a big difference. There's an artisan that takes glass and scents it.

HATTIE: Oh, my gosh. These are pieces of glass?

SCOTT: Yeah, it's just glass and it's...

HATTIE: But how does the scent get in there?

SCOTT: Well, glass is porous, and when the glass is fired in a molten state, they can add different things to it and scents.

HATTIE: This is wonderful.

SCOTT: And so that's the kind of stuff that people would imagine is Sundance, little things like local artisans that, you know, take an old scrap piece of iron...

HATTIE: And create...

SCOTT: ...and make something...

HATTIE: A sculpture.

SCOTT: ...that is very unique.

HATTIE: And then clothing, I mean, the clothing that you would think...

HATTIE: Yeah, like...

SCOTT: would cuddle up in.

HATTIE: I bought this in New York City. Let's see how this does. This is better. This is better for Sundance. It's a little large, but it does feel cozy.

SCOTT: It feels Sundancy, and everything's about texture. So the wood, the fixtures...

HATTIE: Everything's about texture.

SCOTT: That's, I think, what makes it so...

HATTIE: Ooh, tactile.

SCOTT: Yeah. Yeah.


SCOTT: Well, I hoped you guys sense that there's something special about this mountain and this area, and that you can't have that and not share it. I think it's the same thing with what other people do when they climb a mountain or do something. It's important to share that experience.

HATTIE: What is Sundance? What does it mean to people?

HARRY: Well, Sundance stands for a blend of environmental responsibility, creativity and support of the arts and responsible business. And the Sundance concept is for all of these entities to support themselves, to support the arts, to support the environment. It's a big part of our core mission.

BRENT: Bob is so supportive of arts, the environment and craftsmanship. That's what he lives for. That's the things that he's passionate about, and so that's the vision of this catalog, is the brand name Sundance supports art, environment or craftsmanship.

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