News : Green Alliance Changes Hands, Leaders

Jan 7, 2016

 This article was written by Brian Early and first appeared in Seacoast Online on Sunday, January 3rd 

PORTSMOUTH – The Seacoast’s environmental sustainability marketing firm, Green Alliance, has changed ownership as ofthe first of the year and is no longer led by founder Sarah Brown.

After six years of building a clientele of businesses and helping environmentally minded consumers connect to those businesses, Brown sold the company to Mike Bellamente and three other partners who hope to expand the brand of Green Alliance beyond the bounds of the Seacoast. Brown will remain a consultant to the business for the next six months to assist with the transition.

For Brown, leaving was based on two main reasons. One was family. She wants to spend more time with her three daughters who range in age from 12 to 16 before they finish high school and leave home. The other was that she started losing the drive that brought her to work every day. It starting becoming more of a job than a passion.

“It was time for me to move on,” she said. “I don’t just want to punch a clock.”
She knows other small business owners who continue to work for a business they are no longer passionate about, and she didn’t want to join their ranks.

 

The decision to leave has percolated for the past year, she said. In addition to the personal motives for wanting to do something different, she saw the Green Alliance model also had to be revamped. The business landscape has changed dramatically since she first started, Brown said in an interview on Wednesday.

The goal when Green Alliance started was to promote and tell the story of green businesses to an environmentally conscious audience. Connecting the two groups would help both parties. Both of those demographics have changed. In 2009, Brown estimated that 10 percent of consumers cared about sustainability practices and products. Now, she estimates it’s about 75 to 80 percent.

In addition, most businesses now engage in some sort of sustainability practices.
“It’s become more of a normalized thing,” she said. “When I started, it was such a big deal that (businesses) were green.”
With the changes in demographics, Brown said the company needs a change in tactics and messaging direction. That she is leaving to Bellamente.

After taking the reins on Jan. 1 as the new director of Green Alliance, he plans to meet with clients, many he said he already knows from his involvement on the company’s advisory board. He expects to conduct market research – find out from the clients what has worked well and what can be done better. One of Brown’s roles as a consultant will be introducing Bellamente to businesses and consumers to help ease the transition.

Bellamente’s resume is filled with working with or running environmental businesses and organizations. He served as executive director of Climate Counts, which Brown said she modeled Green Alliance after when she first started. He’s also worked with the international environmental non-profit CDP. After the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, Bellamente was chosen to be on a White House led economic development effort to assess the economic damage from the spill. In the past year, he founded PeakAdvisory.co, a creative communications company that works on branding and sustainability consulting.

Bellamente wants to expand the footprint of the business and “bring Green Alliance to a larger population” by maintaining the credibility that Brown brought to the company, he said.

“She was very good at selling the story, and we plan to continue that tradition,” Bellamente said.
The value of connecting green businesses with like-minded consumers “has a potential to grow across the state and into Maine and Massachusetts,” he said.

As for Brown, she’s already embarked on a new adventure. She recently started writing about food and sustainability for National Geographic’s The Plate. She’s written two pieces so far, one on the future of the maple syrup industry in the state and another on the resurgence and history of the Christmas Goose. She’s working on a third piece about the seaweed industry in Maine with many more articles in the works.