Careful planning, ethical sourcing, and customer education are the keys to a truly sustainable company.
By Skya Nelson
In February of 2018, I lectured at Harvard University’s Social Enterprise Conference and I was asked how our company was going to change the minds of the corporate consumer to become more sustainable. I said “through manipulation,” and what I meant was “by introducing the client to a product they didn’t know they desired and explaining the ROI.”
I’m not Machiavellian, just realistic. The customer doesn’t know what they want until you show it to them and explain the positive impact of that choice. Our brand has benefited from the fact that our customers spend hours looking on the internet for a product that matches their personal ethos. They’re not looking for a company in particular – they’re looking for a solution. They don’t set out specifically looking for a product that causes no harm, but when we tell them about ours, it’s a compelling story.
Our customers are interested in our management of raw materials and resources, conservation, education, and community services. When they learn that we participate in meal programs, offer livable wages, use no toxins, and work only with manufacturers that have a completely transparent and ethical supply chain, these are added bonuses that they didn’t know were available when they began their buying process.
Deliberately educating your customers is the future of our industry. If they don’t understand why sustainable production makes sense, they won’t change. My company works year round to educate our customers and explain the impact of their buying decisions on the entire global supply chain.
In February of 2018, we hosted an event at our corporate offices which was organized by the US Department of State and attended by businesses and political leaders from Cuba, Central America, and South America who wanted to understand how to adapt our system to their countries. In February 2019, we’ll be hosting an event with the University of Arizona, Cox Media, and leaders in sustainable apparel and human rights to educate 2000 to 5000 college students about the global damage being done by fast fashion. By making a conscious decision to learn more about the fashion industry, we believe they will change their behaviors and spread those ideas to their friends and their future employers.
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