Inspiring People eileen fisher sustainable CEO

Published on September 4th, 2012 | by Scott Cooney

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Women in Focus Week, Day 2! Meet the Top Women Sustainable CEOs: Eileen Fisher

This week, the Important Media Network has committed to highlighting some of the women that are making the world a better place. At Inspired Economist, we thought we’d take part by profiling a great sustainable woman CEO every day this week. See yesterday’s post on Kim Jordan, CEO of New Belgium Brewing, then check in each day this week to see who we have next! 

Chasing the latest fads was never Eileen Fisher’s mantra in setting off to create a high end clothing line. Her attention to detail and commitment to the “timeless” nature of great clothing has catapulted Eileen Fisher (the brand) into a position as one of the top specialty clothing companies in America.

But the beauty of that timelessness has come full circle. As Fisher’s company has committed to sustainability it has seen that, in life cycle analysis, having fashionable garments that stay in fashion is perhaps the most important element of creating goods that are built to last.

Beyond creating a product that will stand the test of time, Eileen Fisher is committed to sustainability in all aspects of the business. The company uses eco-friendly fabrics, like hemp and organic cotton, has a Fair Trade commitment with their supply chain in Peru, and is committed to complying with third party sustainability certification criteria Oeko-Tex Standard 100 and the Global Organic Textile Standard, organizations that verify that mills use less unhealthy and unsustainable methods for creating textiles.

Eileen Fisher sustainable silks

The company has a family-owned sewing operation in New York City, creating seamless knits for sweaters and other garments. The seamless process takes more time, but reduces waste and creates a longer lasting product. As of Spring 2012, the company started rolling out only bluesign certified silks, meaning they use less water and less chemicals in their production than conventional silks.

The Eileen Fisher sustainability website offers tips for keeping your wardrobe green, from green laundering to how to wash a sweater by hand to 10 simple ways to make a difference.

Like Patagonia, Eileen Fisher also gives rewards to customers for recycling their clothing. The company will take back any Eileen Fisher garment and $5 in recycling rewards. Clothing that can be resold is repaired if needed and sold as “gently used” to customers who prefer second hand clothing. If it is beyond reselling, it is remanufactured into other products like rugs, blankets, scarves, and other useful products.

“I’m so happy that we’re engaging our vendors to partner with us to create change,” says Eileen. “The kind of holistic thinking behind the bluesign® standard shifts everyone’s idea of what’s possible and how business can be part of lasting environmental solutions.”

To check out the rest of Important Media’s Focus on Women this week, check out an archive of this week’s women’s issues posts here!

 





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About the Author

Scott Cooney (twitter: scottcooney) is an adjunct professor of Sustainability in the MBA program at the University of Hawai'i, green business startup coach, author of Build a Green Small Business: Profitable Ways to Become an Ecopreneur (McGraw-Hill), and developer of the sustainability board game GBO Hawai'i. Scott has started, grown and sold two mission-driven businesses, failed miserably at a third, and is currently in his fourth. Scott's current company has three divisions: a sustainability blog network that includes the world's biggest clean energy website and reached over 5 million readers in December 2013 alone; Pono Home, a turnkey and franchiseable green home consulting service that won entrance into the clean tech incubator known as Energy Excelerator; and Cost of Solar, a solar lead generation service to connect interested homeowners and solar contractors. In his spare time, Scott surfs, plays ultimate frisbee and enjoys a good, long bike ride. Find Scott on



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