Helen Russell is Co-founder and CEO of Equator Coffees & Teas® in San Rafael, CA. Under her direction, Equator has earned a reputation as a quality-oriented, customer-focused business that takes the lead on issues of social and environmental responsibility.
Helen is responsible for company strategy and growth. She has defined competitive advantage to include social responsibility and sustainable choices. She strives to deliver innovations in procuring, roasting, brewing, and sales and business practices. These initiatives tangibly support the company’s commitment to sustainability and social responsibility and they also enhance the bottom line. Under her direction, Equator has recently become Certified B Corporation.
Under Helen’s strategic guidance, Equator has achieved 10-15 % annual growth over the past 18 years. She has done this by remaining focused on developing strong, lasting partnerships with Equator’s customers and helping them execute their vision and business plans.
From the moment Helen meets a potential customer, her goal is their success. To that end, she takes great care in selecting a product line-up and training, brewing equipment, and marketing materials to help them succeed. Helen’s natural ability to engage with customers carries on through the initial launch phase into many years of mutually beneficial partnership.
Helen’s consistent efforts have attracted and retained a cadre of prominent chefs and bakers, including Thomas Keller of The Thomas Keller Restaurant Group, Traci Des Jardins of Jardinière, Suzanne Goin of Tavern/Larder in LA, and Tyler Florence. Helen has been able to strengthen these and other partnerships by working every day with customers to make sure they have the support they need to execute their coffee program successfully.
In addition to Helen’s focus on sales and high – touch customer service, she has volunteered her time and business experience to local and international organizations supporting women and the environment, including La Cocina Community Kitchen in San Francisco, the International Women in Coffee Alliance and Brown Girls Surf. Helen has led efforts to make Equator a socially and environmentally responsible company by investing in an energy efficient roaster, a biodiesel delivery truck, hy-brid service vehicles and by purchasing coffees and teas from growers who practice responsible land stewardship and bio-friendly farming techniques. Helen holds a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Northeastern University in Boston.