Up Close is Sourcing Journal’s regular check-in with industry executives to get their take on topics ranging from personal style to their company’s latest moves. In this Q&A, Dana Davis, vice president of sustainability, product and business strategy at Mara Hoffman, discusses how she makes sustainable shopping choices and describes her “anything but corporate” culture.
Name: Dana Davis
Title: vice president of sustainability, product and business strategy
Company: Mara Hoffman
Which other industry has the best handle on the supply chain? What can apparel learn?
This is difficult as I don’t know enough about other supply chains, but we were very influenced by how the food industry approached its shift towards sustainability and the organic movement. This was also important to us as we started to communicate our changes to our consumers.
Do you consider yourself a typical consumer? Why or why not?
No, I’m very conscious about my purchases and aim for quality over quantity. I support companies that have historically been conscious about ingredients as well as materials. I used to make my own clothes, have always shopped vintage, focus on organic and fair trade products and am very strict about repurposing clothes and products.
As a consumer, what does it take to win your loyalty?
A company needs to be aware of its impact on the planet and also focus deeply on its supply chain. I want to support businesses that create lasting products that are good quality—be it to wear on my body, put on my face, decorate home. I also am forever loyal to brands who communicate honestly with me and always prioritize purchasing from small businesses.
What’s your typical uniform?
You will usually catch me in Mara Hoffman, surprise, surprise! My summer go-to is a white hemp or linen dress with sandals. All other seasons are vintage Levi’s, great shoes and a comfy sweater, T-shirt or top.
Which fashion era is your favorite?
This is a tough one. I love the ‘30s for the bias-cut dresses, cinched waists and puff sleeves. The inner hippie in me lives for the ‘70s.
Who’s your style icon?
Francoise Hardy, Jean Seberg
What’s the best decision your company has made in the past year?
We recently implemented flexible work hours, which has changed my life. I am now able to enjoy dinner with my husband and two children.
How would you describe your corporate culture?
Our company culture is anything but corporate. We are led by a true creative and entrepreneur who places a lot of focus on people and the planet. We have working groups looking to increase responsible practices in the office. Each department has a specific sustainability remit. We meditate at 4 p.m. all together. We’re in our 20th year, and this way of working has served us and our customers well.
What should be the apparel industry’s top priority now?
There are many priorities, but at the top I would list cutting carbon emissions. I would also include slowing down the fashion calendar; creating take-back schemes, which focus on taking back garments, repairing them and reselling them; and lastly, scaling textile-to-textile recycling innovations.
What keeps you up at night?
This is a timely question. It used to be overproduction and excess inventory. Pollution and the well-being of our supply chain made their way in there, too. Currently, the effects of the pandemic on the industry, the company, my livelihood and the livelihood of already underserved communities.
What makes you most optimistic?
The spirit of collaboration that exists in the space of sustainability. That the technology and innovation exists to make true change, and I can’t wait to see some of these opportunities scale.
Tell us about your company’s latest product introduction:
I’m proud to work for a company that often has a new product or service to announce. Just recently we introduced recycled wool into our Fall collection. And while we introduced compostable polybags for swim back in 2016, we also recently transitioned out of conventional plastic polybags and introduced new paper-based glassine bags for our ready to wear. Lastly, we just launched a great new website that enhances our customer experience and truly showcases our collections and the sustainability efforts that go into each one.