‘Tis the season. Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, New Year’s Eve, and Giving Tuesday, which for Christiane Maertens, the founder and CEO of DoGoodery and Valor Bebidas, is the natural way of doing business.
Giving Tuesday is a global movement the Tuesday after Thanksgiving that encourages generosity and acts of kindness. It was established in 2012 by New York’s 92nd Street Y in partnership with the United Nations Foundation to inspire people to contribute to the individuals and the organizations they stand behind. And Christiane Maertens is the founder and CEO of two companies: DoGoodery, a consulting agency that creates and executes social consciousness initiatives with brands who have an authentic commitment to doing good; and Valor Bebidas, the tequila that strives to leave a positive impact on the environment and the people involved in crafting the brand.
Maertens has devoted her career to building enterprises that prioritize sustainability and human-centered values.
“My parents are both immigrants. My Dad was from Germany and my mother is from El Salvador, and by growing up with parents who are immigrants we naturally took care of things,” remembered Christiane Maertens. “We were very sustainable without it being cool. We recycled, we reused things, and as a kid I got very involved with environmental volunteer work. Ultimately, it was my father who suggested that I go into some type of environmental science, which at the time, the early ‘90s, was really non-existent.”
Morphing from an originally planned career in Washington, D.C. as a lobbyist for causes she cared about, Maertens landed at the Walt Disney Company in the environmental policy group. After a seven-year stint spearheading youth campaigns and the media and entertainment conglomerate’s first social responsibility portfolio, her next position was as a Deputy Director at the North American Association for Environmental Education (NAAEE), where she built their corporate partnership portfolio and learned how to do business development.
When the idea to form her own company came up in 2018, Maertens realized there was a need for corporations to have consulting agencies that did strategic planning centered around social impact and sustainability.
“Originally, DoGoodery was conceived as a social impact production company,” noted Maertens. “Storytelling is certainly a component of all the work that we do, but after my father died it became clear to me that I wanted to do more than just production. DoGoodery was formed in 2019 with the goal of creating and executing initiatives to improve lives and reduce inequity. We started with two clients, building from there, and Amazon approached us during the pandemic to do a website for them. When I saw what they were trying to do around educational initiatives with Amazon Studios, I pitched this idea of letting us build out this ecosystem for them. That was a game changer.”
“At DoGoodery, our team works with various clients to help companies be more intentional about their corporate responsibilities and how they engage and impact the communities that they serve,” noted Maertens. “A bright and shiny marketing campaign certainly has its purpose too. But if you are trying to reflect systemic change, we work with all types of companies to develop responsible and innovative strategies.”
“One client I am really excited about right now is the National Wildlife Federation, who hired us to help them with their fundraising communications strategy, among other things,” she said. “And a very important client for us since the beginning is Underwriters Laboratories (UL), which we are working with on a public raising campaign centered around lithium-ion batteries.”
Overall, DoGoodery crosses all business sectors with a client list that also includes Southern California Gas, California Water Service and WarnerMedia. And this foothold in environmental sustainability by its founder resulted in the acquisition of Christiane Maertens’ second company, Valor Bebidas.
Enter Valor Bebidas
“In 2021, I was having dinner with Tom Staggs, the former CFO of Disney and now owner of Candle Media, who reminded me that I have spent my career advising companies on how to be more responsible,” noted Maertens. “Then he suggested that I start my own product company to demonstrate what it looks like to embed responsibility into something from the very beginning.”
“Fast forward to a couple of weeks later when my friend and I were in a tiny town in Mexico, and an experience opened my eyes to the deep inequities in the supply chain all over the world,” she said. “When I started to learn all about tequila on this same trip, I decided this was the industry I wanted to get into for this next company, and I needed to do it in an ethically and morally responsible way.”
Promoting fair wages, helping to establish a clean and dependable water supply, promoting the sustainability and well-being of local communities safe working conditions and job security, 10 percent of Valor’s revenue is reinvested into local communities. The company engages in sustainable agricultural, harvesting, and production practices for the health of the land and the ecosystems. And it serves as a foundation for a more human-centered industry rooted in authenticity, respect, and opportunity.
“There is a huge influx of celebrity Tequila, and the impact is enormous on the local community and not all of it is good,” noted Maertens.
Celebrity-owned tequila brands include George Clooney, Sean Combs, Carlos Santana, Michael Jordan, Nick Jonas, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Adam Levine, Kevin Hart, Mark Wahlberg, George Strait and Breaking Bad’s Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul.
“The tequila industry brings in billions of dollars every year but the people of Mexico do not see that money. And I wondered what it would look like to create a tequila company where our entire mission is to bring prosperity back to a supply chain,” said Maertens, who used her expertise to merge the tequila industry with her family history in agriculture. “Tequila is the most labor-intensive spirit in the world and we are working with a small family-owned distillery whose values align directly with ours.”
“We have spent the last year and a half hosting listening sessions with the tequila community to understand where the greatest opportunities for impact are and how to support people who support this product,” she said. “And we are working towards a model where these women and men have employment and purpose every day; whether it is working on agave farms or having access to education, professional development opportunities, healthcare, and safety equipment. The idea is to create a model that shows people you can make money and extend that prosperity to everybody.”
On Giving Tuesday, Valor is launching The Gente Buena Foundation, which is committed to collaboration and community-driven impact to champion sustainable growth and shared wealth in Mexico. The first ad campaign, “Valor Mi Amor,” is running across digital. And the approach of the foundation is to partner with local communities, academic institutions, and non-governmental organizations to identify impact priorities.
“It’s not just about Valor, but other tequila brands as well,” said Maertens. “We can work with other brands in their responsibility strategies through the foundation. And we are opening up this tent, for lack of a better term, for everybody to participate in doing good.”
“Acting responsibly; that to me is the most important thing in any business,” she added. “I look forward to the day where this will not look like giving back and is just a normal element of any operation.”