Marci Zaroff

Marci Zaroff

First let us say, we are honored you've agreed to be a part of The Wave! We are big fans of all that you've done in the sustainability space. Can you start by giving us an overview of what you do? 
Thank you and excited to ride The Wave! I am committed to revolutionizing the fashion industry through inspiration, education, innovation, and collaboration. I have spent the past three+ decades in the trenches pioneering an “ecolifestyle,”—connecting the dots between conscious food, beauty, and fashion. My life work is about no compromise: you can have everything you're looking for in the way of great style, quality, fit, color, comfort, and price, while also being socially and environmentally responsible. A soil junkie at heart, I’m very passionate about organic and regenerative agriculture as a solution to climate change, but also for human and environmental wellness, farmer and worker welfare, and future generations. As Founder and CEO of ecofashionCORP, I drive our "Greenhouse of Brands" to leverage the power of fashion and textiles to positively transform the world. 
 
Speaking of what you do, you're the definition of a multi-hyphenate! Can you tell us about the brands you've started and projects you've been involved in, as well as what you're working on now? 

 In 1990, I co-founded "The Institute for Integrative Nutrition"—now the world's leading "health coach" certification program. I then opened the first AVEDA concept salon with the founder of AVEDA and discovered that there was a missing link in the wellness equation when it came to fiber, fashion, and textiles. In 1995, I coined and trademarked the term “ECOfashion," and founded "Under the Canopy"—one of the world's first sustainable fashion and home brands. After launching UTC as a mail-order lifestyle catalog, I then wrote the business plan for Whole Foods Market to connect the dots from food to fiber with a 2000 sq-foot Under the Canopy store-in-store. Over the decade to follow, I spearheaded first time organic/sustainable textile initiatives with countless major retailers, including Target, Bed Bath & Beyond, and Macy's, to just name a few. In 2016, I co-created a consulting agency with my husband called BeyondBrands where we've launched a wide array of organic/natural food and beverage brands including leading plant-based seafood brand, Good Catch, and regenerative organic chocolate brand GoodSam. On a parallel path, I produced a documentary film series with Amber Valletta called "Driving Fashion Forward," and wrote my first book— ecoRenaissance: A Lifestyle Guide for Cocreating a Stylish, Sexy, and Sustainable World,''—published by Simon & Schuster in 2018. In 2019, I Founded ecofashionCORP, a "Greenhouse of Brands"—including MetaWear, the engine of our company and “Intel inside” of sustainable fashion—with its turnkey "source to story" white label apparel and home textile manufacturing platform. With an office in India and team on the ground, we also co-created the first organic, regenerative and biodynamic cotton farm project partnership in the world. EFC also has three of our own in-house lifestyle brands including Farm to Home and Seed to Style on QVC—affordable, size-inclusive and organic bed, bath and apparel. And, our newest baby is called YesAnd—YES style, quality, fit, color, price...AND certified organic, ethically-made, circular, low-impact dyed and fair trade. Today's modern consumer is demanding transparency, authenticity and accountability, and YesAnd is paving the way on fiber and material innovation (stay tuned for banana), resale (check out "YesAnd Repeat",) as well as blockchain/QR-code traceability from farm to finished fashion. And we are just getting started! 

 
 
You were passionate about sustainability long before it was the buzzword it is today. The same is true about our co-founder Larissa and clean beauty. How did you come to care so deeply about the subject?
When I was 15 years old, my friend gave me a book called Living in the Light by Shakti Gawain, which struck a very deep chord in me. I began to roll up my sleeves and dive head first into health, wellness, and environmental movement by reading books, going to conferences, and self-teaching. My favorite quote is "work is love made visible," and 30+ years later, I love my work more than ever before. And as Albert Einstein once said, "we can't solve today's problems with the same consciousness that created them," so it's time we (re)design a new reality–where we can eat the change, live the change, and wear the change we all wish to see in the world. We can all vote with our dollars and be a part of the solution, vs. the problem. The time is NOW.
 
What is your personal definition of sustainability? Of clean beauty?

Sustainability and clean beauty start with products (and services) that are ethically-made and free of harmful toxins that deplete, destroy, pollute and poison. We have to move away from a linear mindset/economy into a Cradle-to-Cradle circular mindset/economy—where what we take from the earth, we give back to the earth. We need to support social, environmental and climate justice, in support of native wisdom: "we don't inherit the land from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children." It's “game on” now with climate change, so it's not even about sustaining anymore, but instead about regenerating, especially when it comes to soil health, circularity and our planet's vital ecosystems. We have a symbiotic relationship with our earth, and need to remember to "love our mother" and treat her with kindness and respect.

 

 

 

While ONDA is of course focused on clean beauty, we embrace an all-around healthy, clean, and holistic way of living. In addition to purchasing sustainable goods, whether they be clothing, food, or personal care products, how else can we do both our bodies and our planet more good?

 25+ years ago when my mentor, AVEDA founder Horst Rechelbacher, was talking about ancient healing traditions and plant-based wisdom, many of those ideas were not embraced by the mainstream, but today, the Internet and millennials have changed the game. We can now pull the curtain back—unveiling the human and environmental impacts of everything that we do and every choice that we make. We can ask questions like: “Who made my clothes? How are they made? What’s in them?” Whether eating more organic and/or plant-based food, or supporting clean beauty and ECOfashion, every mindful step forward is a step in the right direction. From practicing yoga (on and off the mat) to reducing plastic intake to reading labels and supporting brands and companies that do well by doing good, we can all play our part in making a difference. There's an interconnection between what we put in, on, and around our bodies every day. Everything is an extension of who we are, so every choice we make is either part of the problem…or the solution.
 
The thinking is probably slowly evolving and expanding, but many people may equate sustainability simply with recycled or recyclable packaging. What are some other sustainable elements we should be on the lookout for when purchasing goods?

Definitely certified organic and/or regenerative. These concepts are not marketing propositions, but instead, true methodologies around building soil health, and ultimately, humanity’s existence, since we depend on our planet’s ecosystems to survive and thrive. “Organic” is governed by the USDA (United States Dept of Agriculture) and whether you are talking about food, beauty, or fiber, all of these sectors follow the same certified organic protocols that the agricultural crop is free of pesticides, GMO seeds, insecticides, harmful chemicals, and in the case of fashion, no chlorine bleach, no formaldehyde, no acetone, and no heavy metals. I was on the team of people that developed GOTS (the Global Organic Textile Standard)—the platinum certification for finished organic textiles. Of course, all of our EFC textiles (YesAnd, Seed to Style, Farm to Home, MetaWear) are made with certified organic fiber (and other preferred fibers such as Tencel Lyocell, aka ECOlyptus), and are certified to GOTS. Products (especially fashion) are powerful vehicles for transformation.

 

We asked our July ONDA Insider, Sophia Li, this question and would love to hear your take as well: what would you say to someone who asks: "I'm just one person, what difference can I make?" 

World change starts at the individual level. Lao Tzu once said “The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” All of us need to step together one step at a time. Embracing a conscious lifestyle can be very daunting, but the reason I wrote my book ecoRenaissance was to provide resources, tips, and guidance in connecting the dots between art, food, wellness, beauty, fashion, and business—with the core paradigm-shifting principles being creativity, connection, community, consciousness and collaboration. This movement is not about deprivation or sacrifice, but instead about getting more value and purpose in your life. We all need to work together to co-create a better world—where together, we can manifest a cleaner, greener, healthier and happier today, and tomorrow.

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