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She hated authority until she became boss. Here's how she treats her employees.

She used to work in the kitchen. Now she's the boss.

She hated authority until she became boss. Here's how she treats her employees.

Kim Bartmann describes herself in a few different ways.

She's a self-professed tree hugger. She was a cook who never wanted to work in a restaurant again, but now she owns eight of them. She says she comes from a "punk-rock culture" and was "very anti-authoritarian" until she had to step and be the boss.


How does a free-spirited, eco-friendly food enthusiast become a booming restaurateur in Minneapolis?

In college, Kim supported herself by working as a cook. She saw lots of her coworkers being treated like crap and vowed never to work in a situation like that again. When she went into business, her main priority was creating a culture where both employees and customers were treated well.

She built her businesses on a set of rock-solid values and always made sure to put the important stuff first.

For her newest venture — Tiny Diner — those values include paying her employees a living wage and giving the kitchen workers free meals. Compared to the national average, where waiters earn around $21,600 per year, that means Kim's commitment to her values can make a significant improvement in her employees' lives.

At the Tiny Diner, Kim and her team have created an atmosphere that encourages folks not only to eat, but also to sit and chat for a while.

"I think that small business relies on diversity at the end," Kim says, explaining that in a diverse and connected city like Minneapolis, "what we see today is that restaurants are replacing some of the more traditional community gathering spots, and that's really fun."

And she gets props for doing all of this while also being kind to the environment.

Her team installed solar panels on the building to maximize their natural resources, and the diner also grows 70% of its food in a garden out back.


What Kim is doing is something that a lot of businesses could replicate pretty easily.

Her strategy is fairly simple. She wins by keeping her employees happy and creating an eco-friendly environment that appeals to a wide variety of customers.

Plus, she's doing it in a neighborhood that no one wanted to touch.

When she first started working in South Minneapolis in 1983, she says "it was perceived as not a good neighborhood, which is a complete misperception," adding that Tiny Diner has been full since it opened.

One customer who has lived in the neighborhood her whole life said she appreciates Tiny Diner because she's "not about supporting big chains, so places like this, I love. And I love the garden outside, too. I think that's awesome."

That's right — mom and pops shops for the win. Keep doing you, Kim!

You can check out the Tiny Diner in action by watching the video below:

Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels
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Increasingly customers are looking for more conscious shopping options. According to a Nielsen survey in 2018, nearly half (48%) of U.S. consumers say they would definitely or probably change their consumption habits to reduce their impact on the environment.

But while many consumers are interested in spending their money on products that are more sustainable, few actually follow through. An article in the 2019 issue of Harvard Business Review revealed that 65% of consumers said they want to buy purpose-driven brands that advocate sustainability, but only about 26% actually do so. It's unclear where this intention gap comes from, but thankfully it's getting more convenient to shop sustainably from many of the retailers you already support.

Amazon recently introduced Climate Pledge Friendly, "a new program to help make it easy for customers to discover and shop for more sustainable products." When you're browsing Amazon, a Climate Pledge Friendly label will appear on more than 45,000 products to signify they have one or more different sustainability certifications which "help preserve the natural world, reducing the carbon footprint of shipments to customers," according to the online retailer.

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In order to distinguish more sustainable products, the program partnered with a wide range of external certifications, including governmental agencies, non-profits, and independent laboratories, all of which have a focus on preserving the natural world.

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If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.