Their podcast is all about sustainability and sourcing within fashion and other industries. Last week, for the 14th episode, Julie Verdugo, a member of our Advisory Board and Director of Sustainability + Impact at Free People, spoke about her experiences as a female leader and the impact her job has on the community.
Julie mentions how great it is to work in an atmosphere mainly run by women and how she wanted to work with them on a project that would have external impact on women in all communities. Free People partnered with Girls Inc, which started as a social media campaign and molded into a partnership. They realized conversations on body positivity, fitness programming, and nutrition education would have a greater effect in areas beyond their usual consumer base. Free people helped by supporting Girls Inc finically through donations and planning fitness programs and mental health outlets during the Coronavirus pandemic. Fatima says, “Focusing on impact outside of the customers makes a fashion brand not just a brand, but part of the community.”
Julie shares that being curious and analytical led her to think she needed to be an engineer; but now—even though she pivoted into fashion—the mindset she grew from studying engineering allows her to think critically and analyze business impact. This also helps her face ambiguous problems that must be faced in sustainability and being mindful of waste.
Julie notes that sustainability and social impact are necessary considerations for businesses. For example, workers in Free People and URBN Inc went from being more private about their impacts to setting external goals and sharing those with the community; they were also invited to take part in sustainable and social outreach.
I learned the importance of sustainable sourcing for brands to provide less wasteful products to customers. I also developed a better understanding of Free People’s outreach and the community that they have built beyond their base. It is inspiring to hear that a brand that carries high-end clothing also helps to financially and physically support great programs like Girls Inc.
This was an inspiring, great podcast. I am excited to hear from more LIM partners that will be guests on Straight from the Source in the near future.
To listen to Julie Verdugo's episode here!