Talking courage with a Co-Founder of a Social Impact Startup

3 minute read

Sandra Capponi Sandra Capponi is the co-founder and head of business development at social impact startup, Good On You

With over 15 years experience in corporate social responsibility, Sandra has long been concerned with sustainability issues in big business. She especially cares about the impact of fashion, an industry that is notorious for its opaque supply chains with devastating effects on people and the planet.

Sandra started Good On You because she sees huge potential in driving businesses to be more sustainable and fairer through the everyday purchasing choices we all make.

Join us as Sandra shares that her purpose drives her to tell big, powerful businesses that “enough is enough; the exploitation of people and planet is never acceptable.”

How would you describe workplace courage?

To me, workplace courage is about going against the norm and taking chances on what you believe in, even if you’re unsure or obstacles get in your way.

It’s about following your passions and not compromising on your values, no matter what, while also acknowledging that you don’t have all the answers and you need to be open to change.

That means being prepared to take hits, sometimes completely failing, but turning that into a positive by learning and finding ways to move on.

As a leader, I think workplace courage also means creating an environment for your team to feel supported to take big leaps of faith, as well as trusting them to do the right thing.

What does courage look like in your workplace?

Good On You is a startup, so the future is always uncertain.

Every day we’re faced with challenging decisions about how we can survive and thrive with the limited resources that we have – from choosing which product upgrade and business model to test next, to figuring out how to respond to an investor or client, as well as forming a stance on modern slavery and carbon emissions.  And that’s all before breakfast 🙂

We need to take risks and do things differently to achieve our goals and we definitely make mistakes along the way. It’s both exciting and scary at the same time.

It helps that I work with an amazing team of people who’ve sacrificed taking the easy road to be a part of Good On You. I think it’s our shared passions for creating a fairer, more sustainable fashion industry (and beyond!) that give us all the courage to keep pushing ahead.

Plus speaking up for what you believe in goes to the very core of what Good On You is all about. We help people to use their voice and their purchasing power to reject the status quo and push for the change they want to see in the world.

sandra capponi_good on you 2

Please describe 1-2 examples in which you have been courageous.  What did you do?  Who/what enabled you to be courageous?  What was the outcome?  

I guess you could say my decision to quit my corporate career and co-found Good On You was courageous. I was leaving behind secure wages, support networks and a clear path towards so-called “success”. I was also told numerous times that it wasn’t the right move and that I should take a more certain, settled path.

But I’d like to think that I was being more courageous by taking on big, powerful businesses in my work at Good On You and saying to them that “enough is enough– the exploitation of people and the planet is never acceptable.”

In both cases I feel that it was a belief in myself, a belief in what I knew was right for me and in the things that I cared about that gave me purpose.

And of course the knowledge that if it doesn’t work out, then that’s OK too.

One thing that is for certain is that I’m very lucky – I’ve had a fortunate upbringing with a good education and a great family life, so it’s a lot easier for me to have trust in myself and in my future. I might be courageous for standing up for some big social and environmental issues, but to me it felt really gutless to just sit back and do nothing with all that privilege.

From your point of view, to what extent are Australia’s leaders leading with courage?

If you mean in the political sphere, then I’m sure many of us share the view that Australia’s leaders seem to be really struggling to lead with courage. In fact, they seem to be leading from a position of fear – fear of losing power -instead of having the determination to fight for the policies they believe to be right for the country and its people.

I hate to generalise though. Outside of politics, and even within it, there are also many leaders that are standing up for positive change. That’s the best thing about Australia – that we live in a society where we can all have a voice, we can all speak up without fear to act on the things that matter and have hope for a better future.


In reading this interview, you may have identified a situation in which “enough is enough.’’ This may be a personal, workplace, community or global issue. Whatever that situation is – big or small – I trust that you’ve been inspired by Sandra’s story to consider taking action – big or small – with courage.

 @CourageChick

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