Derek Sabori of The Underswell Makes a Case for Sustainability Training at Your Brand
Part 4 – Chapter 4 – Why Did I Not Already Know This?
Welcome to the last chapter of my mini case for committing to Sustainability Education and training at your brand (and doing so before you start trying to scramble for resources, and roll out initiatives). If you’re just joining, I hope you’ll go back and start from the beginning. If you’ve been here the whole time, you’ll recall that…
It was 2009 and I had just been assigned to my dream job as the Head of Sustainability at Volcom. I had already found my spark, had my purpose, and was super passionate about tackling sustainability at the brand.
Admittedly, I had a lot to learn. So, as I said in chapter 3, like any good student, I got to work.
But, there was a catch.
When I started to dive into industry reports, scour through editorials, attend conferences, and meet with specialists in the space to learn more, I constantly found myself asking, “Wait, what is that word? Who is that organization? What is that acronym? Who is that person?” And, the more I dove in to teach myself, the more rabbit holes I discovered.
You see, in the course of my learning, I was unraveling a world of information that, while not new in and of itself, was completely new (if not foreign) to me.
And that was unsettling.
With more than 10 years of industry experience at the time and a master’s degree in business from a top-ranked university, I was feeling knocked back on my heels.
I was constantly asking myself, “Why do I not already know this already?” Mainly, because what I was uncovering and learning was deeply resonating with me, and made perfect, reasonable sense to me: Business can be, and should be done better.
There were no reason (aside from status quo) that the lifestyle I loved, and the products I valued should come at the expense of people I had never met, communities I may or may not ever visit, and/or ecosystems that were ultimately connected (as I came to realize) to me.
The concept of The Triple Bottom Line could not have been more of a no-brainer: Find a decent balance between the Business you do (Economic), the Ecosystems we rely on (Environmental), and the Humans we should respect (Social), and we’ll all be better off for it; today and well into the future.
As I slowly became an expert though, I became acutely aware of how much effort this took.
Because for most of us (I’ll say it again), the concepts of sustainability (everything you’d find outlined in the Sustainable Development Goals) have not historically been ingrained into our educational systems, our career paths, or even our cultural experiences and so, unfortunately, these topics are treated as an add-on or an afterthought.
“How was anyone else in the business with their already busy roles expected to know any of this?” I thought to myself as I went through it all.
Those are the questions that drove me to form The Underswell, an effort to create a generation of changemakers in the apparel industry who are confident and competent in the complex and nuanced sustainability matters that are driving forward this new economy.
Your team is hungry for, ready for, and in need of sustainability education.
After years of trial, and after developing and teaching courses for a California college, I decided that rather than “consult” and bring in expertise from the outside, I would offer to educate and drive change from the inside.
This is an approach we call “empowerment” – Empowering brands to become more sustainable based on a 3-tiered approach of Educate, Empower, then Activate, powered by a 10-point methodology we developed, and driven by a core of signature courses, and guided-by-expert training.
That 10-point Underswell Method? It’s a transformation system that I recommend to all my clients:
- Learn the fundamentals (Educate)
- Familiarize yourself with the past (Educate)
- Accumulate reliable resources (Empower)
- Talk with your peers (Educate/Empower)
- Stay current and up to date (Empower)
- Learn from experts (Educate/Empower)
- Stay future-minded and forward-looking (Educate/Empower)
- Activate and apply what you’ve learned (Activate)
- Hold yourself accountable
- Truthfully/Efficiently communicate your efforts
This is a movement, and there is nothing else like it. I hope you’ll join us.
Learn more about our training options at theunderswell.com or book a discovery call with me here. You can also reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’ll be at Surf Expo and want to meet up in person! Did I mention the free Mini-Masterclass I’ll be presenting!?
Ready to get started on your learning journey? Scan the code or click here and get access to our Free Sustainability Learning Resource: