Education, Sustainability, and Proactive Well-being.
Michael’s innovation has embedded the concept of corporate responsibility and sustainability throughout his entire business model. Not only does he do this by hiring and supporting minority groups, all of which have achieved higher education in fields of dietetics, naturopathy and biochemistry to name a few. The business, as opposed to other retailers, pride themselves on providing a meaningful one on one service and educating experience for health seeking consumers about the products before purchasing. Even if it means talking them out of a product, in an effort to give what is truly best for the customer. This is particularly important in a world where, pseudo-information is so widely available and believed online. Mike says “as a small family business, we aim to provide our employees a meaningful job that genuinely provides satisfaction and help on a personal level. Not only to themselves but our customers”.
Prahran Health Foods believes they have an obligation to continue their work of promoting proactive lifelong learning towards preventative health to customers while concurrently educating sustainable consumption and production patterns in their own small but bold way for the benefit of humanity. In an effort to curb the declining western diets food quality, diversity and ever-increasing rate of consumption in a retroactive healthcare treatment paradigm.
While the business model relies on labour intensive one-on-one service, the business model has built in mechanisms to make conscious decisions to recycle, screen distributors, source local products, use re-usable biodegradable bags and have even install solar panels. This demonstrates how the business mission is innovative in the sense that it is ahead of their time, and leads a good example for other businesses to follow in the ever-growing health and wellbeing market.
It all started 30 years ago when Brooklyn pharmacist owner Michael was fed up with the abhorrent number of patients not taking a proactive approach to their health and well-being but rather “filling prescriptions as a band-aid approach to treat many diseases that could otherwise be prevented with a healthy lifestyle”. Wanting a change and solution, Mike moved to Melbourne, Australia to set up a wholefoods and health supplement store in hopes of encouraging a more preventative approach to well-being. This “provides a means for the people and the community a like to promote well-being and reverse the expansive trend of morbidity and mortality that stem from poor lifestyle choices which include diseases such as diabetes, heart diseases, Alzheimer’s and many types of cancers”.
Mike believes there is a lot of misinformation and profiteering in the world of healthcare, he and his highly educated staff aim to provide individualised one on one customers service when helping customers. And lead the industry in their approach towards social and environmental sustainability through their bold approaches and programs that support the cause. Mike feels a lot of companies talk about having sustainable and ethical practices, but in reality very few have lived up to their word and are retrospective in their approach. Mike “has always been passionate about pushing for a more conservative world” demonstrating how his model is truly innovative at heart.
The family run health foods store has been a hub for health and wellbeing in the area for over 25 years. The innovative practices Prahran Health Foods has weathered the test of time and is a testament to Mike. In the short term, Mike says many of the practices and especially the labour intensive nature of this innovative business model actually increased costs and reduced profits. This is further compounded by the large upfront costs of hiring educated employees, installing solar panels and screening for local suppliers. However, as time has passed the benefit of doing such practices has attracted a far greater number of customers that far outstrip its extra costs.
Mike has also noticed that this innovative business model has resulted in continued and ongoing growth for people wanting to draw upon more in-depth consultation services. Prahran Health Foods benefits society through fostering discussion and educating about health, sustainability and employs cutting edge practices that also benefit the environment as well as his business.
Prahran Health Foods was founded under the guiding pillars of honesty, trust and inclusion. These principles resulted in attracting loyal customers who continue to return and seek advice over the long term. This has allowed the company to thrive for 30 years despite much stronger market forces and competitors entering the health foods space.
Seeing a huge movement towards environmental and social awareness as of late, customers are increasingly involved and vote on their future with their spending, eating and lifestyle decisions. This is luckily amplified by the fact the business is situated in an area where there is a high rate of tertiary education, disposable income and young audience. All of whom are aware of the plethora of beneficial effects that a healthy lifestyle, sustainable practices and ethical choices can lead and provide satisfaction to on a personal level. Time and progressive practices on the forefront of the market has only amplified the positive effects that this movement has on Prahran Health Foods business.
Screening for local products and foods means Prahran Health Foods also supports local small-time families/business who are also making their beneficial impact on the world. Furthermore, this provides support for the progression and growth of the local economy and job growth all while displacing unnecessary imported products like imported bottled water that cause a host of detrimental effects on the environment that comes with packaging, transporting and distributing such products across global boarders.
The store also engages in many green practices like:
• Reusing and recycling embedded waste in production systems.
• Reduce dependence on fossil fuels as store electricity runs off 100% renewables thanks to solar panels on the roof of Prahran Health Foods.
• Reducing environmental burden by offering reusable and biodegradable bags for over 15 years.
• Prahran Health Foods also sells bulk food products to reduce reliance on pre-packaged foods. Furthermore, the type of packing a product is in, plays big part what items are sold at Prahran Health Foods.
• The company uses 100% recycled cardboard to transport goods bought through the online store.
Furthermore, Mike and the staff at Prahran Health Foods understand that those wanting to improve their health and wellbeing may not always be able to afford it. In such situations, Mike also offers special discounts to low income customers as a way to help the community and people who need the help most.
Michael Jacobs , Business Owner
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Melbourne, VIC, AU
Business Website: australianvitamins.com
Year Founded: 1988
Number of Employees: 11 to 50