I’ve received a lot of attention for my designs but also for the success of a business that is very ecologically minded. It’s not uncommon when I’m being interviewed for the interviewer to speak about my company EcoChic Lifestyles as if it’s a unicorn. There’s definitely a trend towards businesses being more aware of how they impact the environment and people and, while it can be challenging for a new company to take this approach, it’s far from unachievable. If you’re conscientious and inclined towards being a positive force on the planet, it doesn’t prohibit you from being very successful and turning a profit. What is required is a well thought out plan and a personal touch. With my own company, I’ve transformed a personal idea into a business that works with Amazon, Wayfair, Carnival Cruise Lines, and a number of billion dollar titans. The popularity of my designs has an influence has been able to travel even further as a result of working with them. I’ve found that if you’re well thought out and have a very personal connection with your product, you can achieve all of your goals while feeling good about how you’re effecting the world.
I think one of the main differences for someone like myself who is not only business minded but also artistically inclined is that a sense of urgency doesn’t supersede all other factors. When I’m creating a table or a chair or any matter of furnishing, my goal isn’t to get it done as quickly as possible but rather to find the design that makes me (and the people I’m creating it for) feel good. It’s a metaphor for the way I like to do business. I want to make sure that everyone involved comes out in the end doing better. I did a lot of research about materials when I was starting EcoChic Lifestyles. When I discovered the damaged boats in Southeast Asia from which we acquired wood, it wasn’t something I found immediately. It took quite a bit of time and I didn’t jump on the first opportunity I found. I saw in this situation the opportunity to create something beautiful out of a bad situation and that was important to me. Patience and purpose, it’s worth it in the end.
I’m adamant about personal connection with the products of EcoChic Lifestyles. If you want to be sure that things are being taken care of properly and the workers are being treated properly, you’ve got to be there. I travelled to Asia and stayed in the same communities where the destroyed boats were and where the workers obtained the wood. Too many people have put their name on a product that comes from overseas and bad reports come to light about things being mishandled. Spending time on site rather than a quick visit helped to ensure that I was getting the ideal materials and setting the standard for how obtaining them would go for the future of my business. To this day, I’ll jump in and unpack boxes or any number of things as a way of stay connected. Even as CEO of a huge company, I can’t stress that connection enough…and it truly makes an impact when those working for you see you doing this.
An unobvious factor to many of my customers but one that was very important to me was that the materials I used for my furnishings were not only attractive but very durable. It was no small factor that the wood from the destroyed boats was treated to be last and this was proven by their many years at sea. The custom in this region was to paint the boats very bright colors. This is part of the patience which I referred to earlier; the fact that I was able to obtain strong wood that was already attractive cut two steps out of the manufacturing process for EcoChic Lifestyles.