Chapter 3 – It’s More Than Environmental
My name’s Derek Sabori and as the former VP of Sustainability at Volcom who’s helped brands like New Balance, Billabong, RVCA, Quiksilver, Zumiez, and Blue Tomato build and/or strengthen their sustainability programs, I’m making a case for sustainability education at your brand and organization.
In the previous chapter, I wrote that for too long, too many of us have been trying to put sustainability initiatives into action before we even have the resources to do so. Or even before we understand whether or not those resources that we did find are the right ones. Questions remain: How do we know which is better? Are these claims true? Is this a good certification? And so on.
And I suggested that to remedy this frustrating conundrum, we reverse this approach and START by educating ourselves, move to strategically gather resources, and THEN (and only then), go into activation mode; applying what we’ve learned and gathered into our product mix and operations.
This was an approach that I call: Educate – Empower – Activate and it always goes in that order.
“Sounds great,” you say… “But, where do we get sustainability education and resources??”
I’m glad you asked…
With the knowledge that I’ve gained through my 26 years in the apparel industry – 12 of them dedicated to sustainability – and experience building sustainability curricula and courses, and teaching sustainable fashion to college students, I’ve developed a system that brings the lessons directly to you; to your brands & companies.
And who am I? Well, allow me to take a walk down memory lane.
Let’s take it all the way back to 1996… I got my first industry job at the great surf/skate/snow lifestyle brand Volcom right out of college (a bit of a wild journey at UC Irvine that meandered from Civil Engineering school, over to Kauai for a gap semester, and then to a course correction to graduate with a Studio Arts degree, only to go back 3 years later for an MBA; but that’s a whole different story on its own). And after volunteering as the front desk receptionist for a few weeks, I was then eagerly hoping to be hired in some form of a graphic design role. However, one part-time role after another eventually found me as a fabric & trims buyer being trained 1-on-1 by Richard Woolcott, aka Wooly, then CEO, and co-founder, himself (those were the days!). And that was the kick-start to my career in the apparel industry, specifically on the product side.
I would go on to manage Merchandising & Design and then start up a Planning & Analysis department before I had what I call my flash point moment somewhere around 2006 (maybe you too saw the film An Inconvenient Truth around that time?) and realized that – whatever you wanted to call it – “responsible business, CSR, or sustainability” was exactly where I wanted my career to go.
Fast-forward a bit, and in 2009 I got that wish and eventually became the head of what we originally called CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) there at Volcom. And back then, don’t hold this against me, I was keen to let people know that I was in charge of addressing the brand’s “environmental” impacts (spoiler alert: Sustainability is about so much more than just the “eco” impacts…).
So, like any good student, I got to work.
Next week, I’ll be wrapping up my case for implementing sustainability education at your brand and sharing what happened next. Tune in to see how it all wraps and hear the final plea for your brand to make sustainability education the first step, rather than the last.
And, don’t forget, I’ll be hosting a free Sustainability 101 Mini-Masterclass on Thursday at 2pm at Surf Expo. Hope to see you then. If you’re ready to #learnmore and will be there, let’s meet up! This QR code takes you straight to a booking calendar for that week or any other.
And lastly, have you grabbed my free guide yet? Scan the QR code here and get access to my free download: