Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Mountains of the Moon: 2007 People's Choice Award - part 2

Hello everyone and welcome to part 2 of my Unofficial Guide to Co-op America's 2007 People's Choice Award for the Green Business of the Year.

Today our focus is on eco-fashion and I have the pleasure to present nominee no. 2:

Mountains of the Moon

Business description: an independent, designer-run business offering sustainable apparel and products, giving the fashion-conscious consumer an eco-friendly choice. Mountains of the Moon’s collections feature unique, fashion-forward hemp, organic cotton, tencel and bamboo items designed for style, comfort and healthy living. Simple enough to be worn everywhere, but never boring, their earth-friendly collections are distinctive and diverse, with designs that are funky, stylish, vibrant, and fun.

Located at: Camby, IN

Operating Since: 1998


The questionnaire (thank you to Melissa Baswell, Mountains of the Moon owner and head designer):

1. What makes your business a green business?

Our Hemp Enlightenment clothing line is designed with the conscious consumer in mind - those of us who care about the environment and fair labor practices who also want to look good in what we wear! From start to finish, the collections in our Hemp Enlightenment line are designed, patterned, manufactured, dyed and tagged (using eco-friendly materials) in the USA in small, 100% sweatshop-free facilities that are family owned and operated.

We choose to use eco-friendly materials like hemp, tencel and organic cotton that are known for durability and long-life. By selecting fabrics that are not only grown and processed using eco-friendly methods but that also last longer than conventional fabrics, we are able to produce clothing with longer lifecycles than the average garment. We opt to create pieces that are fashion-forward but also timeless for the same reason: Designs that are stylish but that can also be worn for multiple seasons and that surpass fads and trends are less likely to end up in landfills.

We also choose to ship our orders using reused packing materials or USPS boxes that are cradle-to-cradle certified for ecologically-intelligent design, use only recycled and/or tree-free paper for our invoices, and make regular donations to both environmental and social organizations.

2. What is your green characteristic you're most proud of?

The green characteristic that we're the most proud of is the fact that our Hemp Enlightenment line is designed, patterned, manufactured and dyed sweatshop-free "locally" (in the USA). Being a green clothing company doesn't just mean using eco-friendly fabrics. By staying "local," we are able to save fossil fuels, create less waste, and stay in close communication with our manufacturer and dye house (which is wonderful for quality control, as well as making certain that sustainable practices and fair working conditions are being utilized).

3. What is your biggest achievement so far?

In our minds, our biggest achievement is that fact that we have been green-minded since our beginnings in the late 90s. We started this business fresh out of college with very little funding, and built the company by focusing on saving money and the environment: we re-used fabrics from clothing purchased from second-hand stores (we sewed all of our own collections for years), re-used shipping supplies, re-used paper for invoices, and created a website rather than a paper catalog.

We've grown a lot over the years, and although we have our clothing lines manufactured now and over 100 retail stores carry our collections, we continue to operate a company based on the same values we've had since the beginning. We are thrilled that eco-consciousness has finally reached the mainstream, but we are proud that operating a green-minded business was at the top of our priority list even before it was a widespread way of thinking.

4. In what way do you think that you help people to take a green action and make a difference?
We help people to take green action and make a difference by giving consumers the chance to buy stylish, fashion-conscious clothing and green clothing, all in one. Customers who perhaps normally don't shop for sustainable clothing because they worry that they'll have to sacrifice style are able to come to us, and shop for fashion-forward apparel that isn't hurting the earth.

5. Who is your green hero?

We have many, but one of our favorites is Julia Butterfly Hill. Melissa (Mountains of the Moon owner and head designer) had the pleasure of meeting her in 2000, and discussed with her Melissa's vision of creating a clothing line that was both eco and fashion conscious. Julia was incredibly encouraging, and we all felt very inspired by her dedication, as well as the person sacrifices she made (and continues to make) for the well-being of the environment.

6. What's your green dream for your business?

Our green dream is to be able to reach out to even more customers and more stores throughout the world! We've learned through the years that the more we give, the more we get, and vice versa. It's all connected. The more people who realize the benefits of living an eco-conscious lifestyle, the better off the entire world can be. If we can contribute to that mind-set through our passion - fashion - then a huge part of our dream becomes a reality.

The next nominee: Yoga Nine/Buddha Body Fair Trade Store

And if you missed the parts of the Unofficial Guide we published so far on Eco-Libris blog, please check them out: