Meet Júlia Benach - She is from Barcelona (Spain) and works as a Head of Communications and CSR for multiple brands based in Spain. Always wearing a big smile, she always brings me a breath of fresh air with her enthusiasm. Júlia and I are old friends and this time, I had the pleasure to catch up with her while enjoying a glass of wine talking about business, PR and Social Responsibility. Read on to discover more from her and how it's possible to integrate sustainability in the business environment and lead the market.
Laia Rodon - Hi Júlia, Can you tell us a bit about your journey? How did you start to get involved with projects related to sustainability?
Júlia Benach - I studied Advertising and Public Relations and did a Master's degree in Fashion Business Management and Administration in Barcelona. I did an exchange course at the University of Cambridge and specialised in communication studies. Then, I studied fashion and sustainability course at the University of the Arts in London inspired me and allowed me to discover what my true passion is and what I want to invest my time in generating value and giving brands better visibility and a speaker to improve the society.
I was living in Costa Rica and working at AUGE, which is a company dedicated to promoting innovative projects and dynamic organisations to contribute to inclusive and sustainable development. There, I started to get acquainted with projects that changed my way of understanding the business world.
Currently, I am dedicated to the world of communication, marketing and consulting. I help brands communicate their DNA consistently and while improving their reputation and visibility online it allows me to grow professionally and personally.
I have a long history in the fashion sector and for a few years, I wanted to start contributing to the change I want to see in the world. I want my day to day to have a purpose and to achieve it, I do what I like and take part in projects that I am proud of.
Being freelance allowed me to make more contacts and expand my database. Thanks to this, I have been able to meet people and projects fully aligned with my values and philosophy of life.
LR - Tell us a bit about your projects that you are involved in the
JB - I have been part of the Sustainability News and Catalyst Sustainability School team for a year and a half. I am the head of marketing and sales executive. Sustainability News is a content platform and News portal whose purpose is to spread and develop knowledge in people about the relevance of an economic, social and environmentally sustainable model aligned with the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.
We have recently launched a Master's degree in Global Sustainability Management, but we have been doing webinars for a few months with leading companies from different sectors. They all have something in common: an interest in sustainability. We spoke with the founders, those responsible for product development, communication… to find out how their project started and what their sustainable development goals are, that is, what they do to improve the world in which they live. We are interested in your Unique Selling Proposition (USP).
The School I am part of is a state-of-the-art academic space in continuous learning. The objective is to provide comprehensive training at the highest level for professionals and leaders who will manage the most sustainable companies and public administrations on the planet. Likewise, it is intended to contribute to the sustainable progress of the world community through the comprehensive training of future leaders committed to society.
The mission is to design and develop initiatives that help build favourable spaces towards global sustainability, as well as activities that link digital transformation with the fight against climate change and ecological transition. Apart from this, I am working on different projects, such as digital strategy and e-commerce of local jewellery, on a platform that connects sustainable brands with their target audience, on a men's fashion line made of organic cotton, on the definition of disruptive and eco-friendly influencer marketing strategies, on the writing of valuable articles for companies... And I'm still open to new proposals and challenges!
LR - How do you think that it's possible to integrate sustainability in the business environment and lead the market?
JB - More than a possibility, it is a necessity. The European Union has set itself one of its main priorities for the coming years to combat climate change and environmental degradation. Brussels has outlined a new strategy and roadmap that it has called the Green Deal to support the industry to innovate. Therefore, more and more companies understand that to reach the goal it is necessary to invest in environmentally friendly technologies.
The integration of sustainability in the business environment is possible when it is understood that there are things that can be improved. The revolution starts when an organization is aware of the terrible working conditions, including an unworthy salary. This represents an ethical problem and a clear example of exploitation, as well as an attack on human rights. But it is in the hands of each leader to want to change it.
On the other hand, one does not choose to be a leader, one begins to lead the market when the client decides. One way to do this is to launch programs and initiatives that support diversity, beyond promoting gender equality and female empowerment programs. Because this is also sustainability.
In recent years, sustainability and concern for the environment have ceased to be something unique and exclusive to Corporate Social Responsibility departments, to become part of the DNA of many companies. And in the not too distant future, customers will reward brands that implement sustainable policies and will leave without market share those that do not adapt to current needs.
Sustainability is necessary, improves business reputation and provides differential value. But you do not have to do things because they are rewarded, if not because you believe in them. People and organisations that create a more sustainable environment at all levels, is what this world needs.
LR - How do you come up with PR campaigns that always involve sustainability and ethics?
JB - The economy must be restarted and it must be done hand in hand with ethical and eco-responsible influencer marketing. I firmly believe in its power of influence and the impact it can have on society.
A large part of Spaniards already makes consumption decisions driven by ethical and sustainable factors. In response, more and more companies are turning towards sustainability, something that is visible in their green marketing campaigns. And I love participating in its execution!
Green marketing campaigns are not fashionable, they are necessary. Public Relations can help the environment since by launching an appropriate message, many people can be made aware. Besides, the spots that transmit values have greater acceptance among their target audience.
I also want to highlight campaigns such as that of Ecoembes, entitled "For recycling." A very powerful message that gives visibility to the people who make the world work better, through small gestures, you can take care of the environment.
Estrella Damm is a clear example of a company that opts for ethical campaigns, focusing on the problem of plastics in the oceans. For its part, Coca Cola also tries to break the pre-established judgments in society, reflecting on the appearance of the person and who each one is.
Some of these proposals have been my source of inspiration to exploit my most human and creative side, to achieve the perfect match between the two.
Today the public is more educated, aware, and more active and critical. So advertising campaigns must adapt and reach their target through their essence and emotions, always with an ethical and responsible approach in their communications.
I am one of those who is committed to being honest, and to rethink real problems in campaigns. It is the best way to connect with the customer since real events are brought to the table.
I also consider it necessary to show awareness and responsibility towards social and environmental events and adapt the messages of the advertising campaigns to the current situation.
LR - Do you have any personal life hacks for getting through the day in the most sustainable way possible?
JB - The daily actions of each one of us, have environmental consequences to a greater or lesser extent. Every time I try to take more initiatives in favour of the environment and, above all, to reduce the daily impact. There are so many things that could be removed or replaced to decrease pollution.
I go for sustainable and local brands, as well as trying to repair, reuse and renew what I already have. I consume less and better and, I demand viable and ecological alternatives.
Now I am renting clothes, exchanging them with my friends and family, donating clothes to Caritas, acquiring second-hand clothes… all to extend their useful life and renew those clothes that I no longer use. They deserve a second chance, like all people!
Another personal trick is to improve recycling and give visibility on my Instagram account (@jubenach) to brands that share my values and that deserve to be known for their positive impact.
I recommend following the 7R's, which are: reduce, rent, redefine, repair, reuse, resell and recycle. The path to a sustainable future begins with responsible individual consumption.
Adopting this lifestyle will impact any areas, starting with our diet, the way we move, the clothes we wear, how we interact and communicate.
LR - What’s your daily beauty routine?
JB - The best beauty routine is to eat well, love yourself and, above all, pamper yourself internally and externally. I do sports, eat healthily and pamper my skin as much as I can. I carefully select the environment in which I surround myself to have peace of mind and achieve my maximum personal well-being. And this is also undoubtedly following a beauty routine. What we feel is reflected in our skin!
In my day to day, I use a moisturiser in the morning and another at night. To remove make-up, I use Take The Day Off from Clinique. Three days a week I use the 3INA toner and the Clarins scrub twice a week. Before going to sleep, I put on Salad Code eye contour and facial serum so that my skin rest and recover. At night the skin regenerates and it is important to prepare it with quality products adapted to each type of skin.
I am now using products from Estée Lauder, Ecoderma, Salad Code, and London Botanical Laboratories. Investing in renowned brands with a long history in the market is to match the health of your skin.
LR - How do you inform yourself throughout the day? What are you listening, watching, reading to inspire yourself?
JB - I inform myself through the Wall Street Journal, the Economist, BBC News and Spanish newspapers: El País and La Vanguardia.
I am currently reading the biography of Leonardo da Vinci. I am inspired by his complete dedication to research, by delving into all kinds of fields and by never conforming.
I recently finished "The Geopolitics of the Mind." My mission is to have complete mental control, which author Pedro Baños helped me to achieve, through his work, who speaks of mental and social control.
This week I listened again to the webinar we did with the Catalyst Sustainability School “Building a new sustainable social contract”, by Federico Buyolo, director of the High Commissioner Office for the 2030 Agenda in the Government of Spain.
I recommend the webinar "Women leaders in sustainability", given by Mónica Chao and Alicia Aldarilla, two speakers who talk about the importance of the role of female leadership in global sustainability. Monica is president of Women Action Sustainability and I want to highlight one of her phrases: “Resilience
business goes through giving sustainability the weight it deserves ”.
My favorite music is that of the 70s, 80s and 90s, I never get tired of playing it on my playlist Wham! - Wake Me Up Before You Go Go!
LR - Could you please recommend to us your 3 top ethical brands?
JB - One of my passions is discovering ethical brands. These are some of my recommendations:
- Kulto Project, an online market for local farmers.
- Timpers Brand, a social company made up 100% of people with some kind of disability and that makes sneakers with recycled fabrics.
- Natur Brush, a Spanish brand of biodegradable toothbrushes.
Two extra tips:
- Eco addicted, a brand that gives voice to the motto: rent, enjoy, return and repeat.
- Kokonat Bowls, creates customizable coconut bowls and aims to create a positive impact in India by creating jobs and empowering women, thus giving them and their children economic independence.
LR - What are life’s small pleasures for you right now that are helping keep you inspired and optimistic?
JB - It keeps me optimistic to see how companies are investing more and more money and resources to develop a good Corporate Social Responsibility department, as well as in plans that consider sustainability as a priority.
Many managers are already clear that their commitment to the 2030 Agenda is a form of differentiation and a key factor for improving long-term results. They take into account the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), as well as their level of integration into the company's strategy and its operating model.
I am glad that sustainable entrepreneurship is receiving public aid and that a job well done is being rewarded. Also that the customer wants to know the origin of the products he buys, to understand their origin, who has made them, where, how ... and all this is added and positive value for everyone.
My pleasures on a personal level are a paddle tennis match, a dinner with my family talking about what keeps us excited, a few glasses of wine with a lifelong friend, a smile from a stranger, walking on the beach, seeing a smile my grandparents…
In my lowest days, I remember what my long-term goals are and I keep working to get what I want. I think the key is to have small illusions and feed on them with daily doses.
LR - Finally... What does sustainability mean to you?
JB - Transparency, respect and honesty. Sustainability for me is living my life without compromising that to future generations. I seek to give my best in everything I do and give myself body and soul, that is my way of caring for the environment and contributing to my well-being and that of those around me.
Sustainability is living our life according to our values without harming others. It is consuming being true to your principles and buying consciously.
My way of contributing my grain of sand is to be sustainable in all areas of life, from the relationship I have with my friends, with my family, to my health and beauty habits. Sustainability is also taking care of everything I say and what I do.
Mental health is also a priority and is part of the concept of sustainability. It was included in the Sustainable Development Goals since the social and economic circumstances that drive them must be addressed.
I conclude by adding that we need initiatives that make mental health a key international development goal.
Know more about Julia's Instagram profile here.
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