For the second interview of our “In conversation with” series, we spoke with Kristiane Davidson, Director, Europe + Global Impact and Sustainability at TO THE MARKET, about their sustainability journey and the cooperation with Green Story. Read on to learn more about how TO THE MARKET contribute to sustainable supply chain and transparency in the fashion industry.
Tell us a bit about yourself and your role, and the story behind TO THE MARKET.
TO THE MARKET (a B Corp certified and women-owned organization) is a software platform enabling transparency in the retail supply chain, allowing for retailers, brands, and corporations to source goods and quantify the environmental and social impact of their procurement. Utilizing seamless, end-to-end workflow management, TO THE MARKET provides turn-key supply chain management to our clients, which consist of Fortune 500 corporations, retailers, brands and distributors with the mission of empowering people, protecting the planet, and promoting better business.
I have worked at TO THE MARKET for 2 years, leading our impact and sustainability program. Prior to this, I worked in sustainability for ten years. I joined TO THE MARKET, as I was inspired by our CEO’s story.
While traveling throughout the developing world during her time at the United States Department of State, future TO THE MARKET founder and CEO, Jane Mosbacher Morris, became convinced that the most meaningful way to drive change was through job creation and sustainment. Retail manufacturing is one of the largest economies in the developing world and has not enjoyed significant investment in the supply chain, hurting the industry operationally, environmentally, and socially. She recognized how analog and opaque retail sourcing and manufacturing had become — and knew she could help change it. In 2016, TO THE MARKET was born.
What does sustainability mean to you? And how about transparency?
For me, sustainability is about avoiding and reducing any negative social and environmental impacts as well as actively promoting opportunities for innovation and regeneration, to deliver better outcomes for people and the planet.
At TO THE MARKET, we promote sustainability by using recycled, upcycled or sustainable materials as well as by avoiding materials that are harmful for the environment. Taking it a step further from material alternatives, we also work with suppliers who have created sustainable facilities with features like on-site solar power and LED lighting. We believe sustainability includes both environmental and social impact, so it’s crucial that our makers promote safer and fairer working environments for their employees.
Further, we offset our carbon emissions, through Green Story’s Simplizero solution. We do this in two ways: by offsetting the footprint of our workforce and by offering product offsetting. This solution enables us to improve upon one of TO THE MARKET’s foundational values: transparency. By sharing this information with our partners and clients, we are able to demonstrate our commitment to our mission and lead by example.
What are the main sustainability challenges an organization like TTM faces today?
At TO THE MARKET, we work with so many different stakeholders and the level of understanding and acceptance of sustainability varies greatly from one organization to another. For example, many brands experience feelings of anxiety around the idea of sustainability as it is sometimes portrayed as an ‘all or nothing’ initiative in the industry. It’s important for organizations to understand it’s really about progress over perfection, or moving someone along in their journey of becoming more sustainable and ethical – and that can look different for every company. So, we are actively working to share information, promote best practices, and answer any questions our partners might have. This is where our efforts for transparency are also very effective.
Another challenge is demonstrating our commitment to sustainability. Our clients are increasingly seeking more data-driven evidence of our efforts. Green Story’s Know your Impact solution has allowed us to provide robust data on the impact savings of sourcing responsibly through TO THE MARKET. In turn, this has improved client trust in our supply chain solution, since they are able to accurately see the impact they’ve made compared to conventional manufacturing. And, we are able to showcase our total impact savings.
Despite the challenges we are optimistic! As one of the most polluting industries in the world, fashion retail has an especially challenging future. However, just as the food industry inspired consumers to better understand where their food came from and the farm-to-table movement, the fashion industry can lean on this best practice for the “factory-to-front door” consumer demands. Commitments to sustainability goals will become even more important as the pressures from regulatory and consumers grow exponentially.
What are your top priorities for this year or next few years?
We are committed to increasing our positive impact, reducing our carbon footprint, and conducting our work in a more sustainable manner. In our 2021 Impact Report, we included four goals for 2022: developing more sustainable supply chains, offsetting impact, reporting transparency, and certifying authenticity.
- Sustainable Supply Chains: We will work with our makers, our logistics partners, and our clients to develop the most sustainable, energy efficient, and waste-free supply chains as we possibly can.
- Offsetting Impact: We will introduce an offsetting program for clients who wish to offset the impact of their apparel, soft accessories and home textiles orders. Offsetting information will be available for use on product tags and labels.
- Reporting Transparency: We will increase the regularity and depth of our reporting on our overall impact and sustainability. This will include data, information, and storytelling demonstrating our progress on our commitments and ambitions.
- Certifying Authenticity: We will apply for more certifications with the industry’s most ethical and sustainable bodies, including additional labor related certifications. We will also seek to add more certified makers to our network.
Why did you come to Green Story and how does the work we do together fit into your broader sustainability strategy?
Sharing a mission of powering sustainability in business, Green Story quickly became a valued partner for TO THE MARKET. We have been working together for almost 4 years and continue to develop our relationships together. Green Story helps us calculate quantitative impact savings we are able to provide to our clients, where we use sustainable rather than conventional materials.
As I mentioned we also offset our workforce and some products using the Green Story Simplizero solution. By offsetting the footprint of our workforce, it allows us to make a difference and ‘live our values’ and serves as an additional way we demonstrate to potential employees that we consciously prioritize our environmental impact. It also helps reinforce our commitment as a B Corporation and the social and environmental benchmarks that are critical in maintaining our certification status.
We are excited to continue to grow our partnership and in turn explore even more benefits we can offer our clients.