"Smart companies understand that sustainable business makes good business sense," said Curtis Ravenel, Bloomberg's Global Head of Sustainable Business and Finance. Speaking back in 2015, he went on to say how sustainability is no longer seen as a risk or compliance exercise, but a requirement to be competitive in an increasingly complex, transparent and resource-constrained world. And against this backdrop, Bloomberg decided to host its first Sustainable Business Summit, which has subsequently grown from a single event held at the company’s global headquarters in Manhattan into a series of conferences staged annually across the United States, Canada and Europe.
Over the past two days, business leaders and investors have gathered in London for the city’s second Bloomberg summit, which has featured keynote speeches and panel discussions centered around driving revenue growth and profitability, best practice, integrating sustainability across supply chains, and the value of partnerships in implementing sustainable solutions. Today’s agenda included a session featuring Hassan Pierre, co-founder of Carmen-backed luxury ethical retailer MAISON-DE-MODE.COM, and the founder of sustainable accessories brand Bottletop, Cameron Saul, who shared their thoughts and experiences on building their respective businesses.
Both men commented on the power and influence of consumers. Pierre explained how in terms of the items they stock, it is the consumer who really dictates what they are looking for and “what they like and don’t like”, and how it has been listening to their consumers that has been key to the company’s success. And Saul referenced how it has been consumers’ “emerging consciousness” and collective demand that has been behind scientists “stepping on the gas” in terms of the creation and production of pioneering sustainable materials.
Saul also commented on the importance of companies taking responsibility for their supply chains, and acknowledging the impact they are having on people and the planet. He explained that compared to the big brands, which are trying to reverse engineer existing practices and policies in order to join the sustainable conversation, young and emerging designers and brands are perfectly placed to take advantage of today’s sustainable “toolkit”, working with sustainable materials and using social media to tell their stories.
Interestingly, and despite the industry’s recent negative press in terms of its environmental and social record, Saul made the point that fashion actually represents a “huge opportunity” for positive impact and transformation, given that one in five people globally are employed in the industry. He explained that the conversation needs to be about encouraging brands to step up and seize the advantages and benefits of taking positive steps, and harnessing the industry’s position for good.