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  • Writer's pictureSFA

How Mara Hoffman Transformed Her Supply Chain

Updated: Oct 22, 2020

On August 2, 2018, we brought Dana Davis, Director of Sustainability and Celine DeCarlo, Director of Social Engagement and Head of Environmental & Social Affairs for a rare visit to San Francisco. Co-hosted with Radiant, a community supporting female entrepreneurs at 181 Fremont, one of San Francisco's newest LEED platinum certified mixed use high rises with sweeping views of the city. 20% of ticket sales were donated to Vital Voices, a nonprofit that invests in women who are improving the world.

Mara Hoffman founded her label in 2000 and soon became known for her vibrant, kaleidoscopic swimwear prints. Fifteen years in, she became more acutely aware than ever of the destruction caused by the fashion industry and faced a "shut down or change" moment. The brand underwent a monumental transition towards shifting their entire supply chain towards sustainability. 

We heard from these two of the key women on Mara's executive team who led this evolution - the good, bad, ugly, and the beautiful. The Q/A session that followed dove deeper with questions from seasoned fashion professionals who attended.

Our biggest take aways:

- They started by asking anyone who would take a meeting with them to share their experience, resources and knowledge and they really relied on the fashion community (like Sustainable Apparel Coalition) even today

- Their first step in reinventing their supply chain was to ask their established vendors what sustainable materials they had and many had options

- The road to uncovering the deepest parts (the most sub contracted and hidden parts) of their supply chain was long and hard - figuratively and literally

- They list all of their factories and vendors on their website - real transparency!

- They ate the increased cost in the beginning but after they started to feel more confident in their impact to share their sustainability initiatives, they started to rise their prices - there were a lot of painful contractions and pauses

- This is still just the beginning and there's so much more to do - both individually and as a company

"To me, sustainability simply means being conscious of both our individual and collective impact. We can recycle at home and take our plastic grocery bags back to the store, but we must continue to question whether the brands, companies, and groups we engage with are doing enough. We need to keep asking, implementing, and pushing for more." -Mara Hoffman

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