Changemaker Series with Toby Barazzuol

Welcome to episode eight of the Fairware Changemaker Series, where we highlight entrepreneurs and thought leaders that continuously inspire us through their passion for using business to better the world.

This week we’re featuring Toby Barazzuol, Founder of Eclipse Awards. In this episode, we learn about the power of recognition and about their mission to contribute to a better world beyond simply keeping their business practices sustainable.

When and how did you get started in the awards business?

The business started in 1998, and we just hit our 20th anniversary this year. Prior to Eclipse Awards, I was working at another company where we would make awards as a side business, which is where I learned how to design and create awards. When I started going out and seeing people receive these awards, they were overjoyed and often had tears of happiness. Through seeing that, I realized that there was something special going on. That’s when I decided I wanted to be involved in this and help make more of that happen.

Over the last 20 years, what changes have you seen within the industry?

There have been some major changes since we first started. For example, crystal was made by companies in Europe, many of those companies were hundreds of years old. Over the last few years, we saw the shift towards China and overseas suppliers taking over the market. This changed the supply and design, so in more recent years we’ve focused on designing locally produced awards using materials that people have enjoyed for centuries such as wood, glass, and some metal. Overall, there has been a huge explosion of materials and styles of awards in the industry, so much so that it’s almost overwhelming. We’ve tried to focus on classic, timeless materials and designs that people have returned to year after year.

Can you tell us about the process that went into making the Fairtrade Awards?

We’ve been working on developing our green awards for the last 10 years. The Fairtrade Awards use our Cascadia Plaques, which are made from Maple trees that are salvaged in the Fraser Valley here in British Columbia. We work with an artisan who goes out to get wind-fallen trees that we then harvest and cut up, drying them in a special way that preserves their natural bark edge. Then we personalize them and turn those pieces into awards. Each piece is made of a single piece of wood which means there’s no lamination or glue needed, and marking is done by lasers so there’s no ink involved. They are truly organic, locally produced pieces – that’s what the Fairtrade Awards are!

What does the power of recognition mean to you?

I’ve learned over time that recognition is powerful because of its positive energy. You’re setting out to recognize or appreciate something, so that in itself is a powerful thing. It is a great way to bestow confidence on people and empower them to trust their own skills and abilities. Overall, it’s a great way to share and communicate what is important within the community and what skills or qualities we value in our people. Recognition and appreciation itself are powerful, and the awards that we make really amplify that. When you’re presenting that to someone it can make the impact that much more special.

How did Eclipse Awards become the world’s first carbon neutral company?

We had been pursuing sustainability for a few years already when we learned about Climate Smart, which is a local program that encourages businesses to understand and track their environmental footprint. We took an initial inventory going through the program, and over the years have learned more about how we’re using energy and where our emissions are being produced. From this we have found ways to reduce those emissions through processes and various design changes. With the remaining emissions, we purchase carbon offsets to balance that amount. That’s how we became carbon neutral. In recent years, we’ve been working with Eden Reforestation, which is a tree planting organization. We’re trying to plant trees to offset our operations to balance the emissions that come from our company.

Where do you see the industry going?

It will continue to change and there will be a wider divergence between inexpensive products and higher-end products that are well made using quality materials. We see it continuing along those two paths, we certainly want to focus on the quality side of things and make awards that will last for years to come, that people will treasure for a lifetime!

What does being a changemaker mean to you?

This is a tough question. To me, being a changemaker means being willing to lead and follow your intuition. It means taking a look at where society is going and delivering value in a way that aligns with your beliefs. Although I do see myself as more of a consolidator these days, we have so many new ideas that it can be tempting to pursue the new ones, but I think it’s equally as important to dig into the things we already know and become good at those things. Whether reducing energy consumption or getting involved in the community, these aren’t groundbreaking things, but they are important. Sometimes when we focus on the next thing, we lose sight of the things that are right in front of us!

Toby Barazzuol has helped thousands of organizations appreciate and celebrate their people, and in the process has gained unique insights and perspectives on the power of recognition. At Eclipse Awards, they operate under the tagline “Happiness Delivered”, which they accomplish through empowering confidence that encourages positive social change. We hope you enjoyed this episode of the Changemaker Series and that you take the time to learn more about Eclipse Awards, one of the dedicated suppliers at Fairware.

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