20+ DTC Companies Create Brands x Better, a Coalition for COVID-19 Relief

Rhone, Boll & Branch, Summersalt and more offer discounts and make donations

brands x better logo
Brands x Better was created by Rhone co-founder Nate Checketts. Brands x Better
Headshot of Diana Pearl

Key insights:

In a time when businesses across industries are facing unprecedented challenges, 27 direct-to-consumer brands have come together to do some good.

Spearheaded by Rhone, a men’s lifestyle and fitness brand, the companies have launched a coalition called Brands x Better dedicated to raising money for issues and organizations related to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The 27 brands taking part include bedding company Boll & Branch, handbag maker Dagne Dover, natural beauty purveyor Kopari, Tim Armstrong’s The DTX Company and children’s clothing brand Rockets of Awesome.

As a part of the initiative, each participating brand is promising a donation to a charity or organization fighting the coronavirus pandemic—often with an incentive for consumers in the form of a discount. For M.Gemi, a shoe brand with factories based in Italy, that means donating 10% of proceeds to Direct Relief while offering customers a 10% discount. Men’s clothing brand Knot Standard is using 10% of its proceeds to fund the creation of masks to be donated to Mount Sinai and Montefiore hospitals. The DTX Company is donating its media budget and creative production resources to COVID-19 relief efforts from Mount Sinai and GetUsPPE.org.

The idea, led by Rhone co-founder Nate Checketts, sprouted out of quarantine-induced boredom. “I was like everybody else: sitting in quarantine, trying to figure out what to do to contribute,” he said.

“I just started having this almost longing to build ties with people, to reach out and strengthen relationships,” Checketts added. The relationships he wanted to build were not just with consumers, but also with fellow small business owners, particularly in the DTC space.

“I saw all these amazing direct-to-consumer brands who had built up these relationships with their customers, trying to figure out how to navigate and give back,” he said. “I felt like there was an opportunity to aggregate these brands to encourage conscious consumerism during this time when people are appropriately tightening their wallets.”

The resulting program, Brands x Better, highlights brands’ charitable efforts while providing a bigger platform to amplify them “so that we can have an even greater impact.”

Word began to spread once he texted a few friends to gauge their interest, and within days they had a website and the program was off the ground. Checketts is always trying to stay connected with business leaders in the direct-to-consumer space, and initially, the intent was to keep the program limited to DTC brands.

However, he said that now, they’re open to including other brands, but they must meet four requirements. The first and second are that they must agree to some sort of give-back program for charity (donation) and for consumers (discount). The third is being willing to report what you’re able to give, and the fourth is to work with the other companies in the Brands x Better program to support and help one another.

The fact is that many retail businesses are hurting right now, with news of layoffs and furloughs coming almost daily as well as rumors swirling of bankruptcies across industries. But Checketts said offering discounts is a valuable gesture, even in these uncertain times, because when consumers are deciding where to put their dollars, they’re more likely to spend it with a business that has made a philanthropic commitment.

“Certainly a business, from a longevity standpoint, has to be focused on making money and having a good business model,” he said. “But beyond that, they have to be focused on doing good. We believe in this day and age that there’s certainly some benefit that you can do well by doing good.”

Though Brands x Better is undoubtedly a good PR move for the participating companies, Checketts said that pales in comparison to the knowledge that his brand is using its position and platform to offer aid in a crisis.

And even after the coronavirus pandemic fades, he said he plans to keep Brands x Better alive to help where it’s needed elsewhere.

“What we care most about is that we are doing our small part to contribute,” he said. “Certainly, we want consumers to know that as they shop at brands like us, we’re going to continue to try and do the right thing.”

@dianapearl_ diana.pearl@adweek.com Diana is the deputy brands editor at Adweek and managing editor of Brandweek.