In this new series with textile testing and certification group Testex, Ragtrader interviews fashion businesses about their approach to more sustainable practices.
Jaana Quaintance-James: head of sustainability and ethical sourcing at The Iconic
What does your role involve as a sustainability head?
In my role, I am responsible for the delivery of our strategy for sustainability and ethical sourcing across all our business functions. Day to day, this involves managing a program that assesses and mitigates the social and environmental impacts of both our own operations and that of our supply chain.
What's the biggest achievement you've made in this space at your company so far?
At THE ICONIC our mission is to create a seamless and inspiring shopping experience for our customers. A big part of this for us is ensuring our customers feel confident in our commitment to create a more sustainable future. We are incredibly proud of the work we’ve achieved in this space to date.
One area in particular, is the positive impact we’ve been able to achieve in ensuring decent working conditions within our international factories that produce our private label brands and resolving worker concerns on the ground. We have now taken our supply chain engagement to the next level with our first supplier conference in Shenzhen in November.
Learning from our partners and working together to find solutions collaboratively is the way THE ICONIC works and I am incredibly excited for the impact we can continue to make in 2019.
What are your future goals here?
Last year, we held workshops with over 100 ICONIC team members from varying departments, including our CEO and Executive team, to collaboratively design our 2020 Sustainability & Ethical Sourcing strategy. The result was a four-pillar strategic business plan that will guide everything we do, whether that is the impact of our own operations on the physical environment, to looking at how we contribute to the social fabric of the community in which we operate.
Some key sustainable initiatives we are working on right now include investigating solutions for a more sustainable packaging alternative, creating an online platform to enable our customers to shop by their personal values, as well as exploring the feasibility of solar panels on the roof of our fulfilment centre. By 2020, we will have a sustainability action plan in place for every area of our business.
What's the biggest challenge involved in becoming sustainable?
Change of any kind within a business can be challenging, particularly for a company of our size and volume. The process of bringing people along on this journey both internally and externally is an ongoing part of my role.
Having a highly engaged leadership as we do at THE ICONIC is a super important ingredient, as is having a dedicated team in place who specialise in delivering change and tackling what can sometimes be very complex issues. It’s also important to remember that it’s about progress, not immediate perfection.
While we’re proud of the impactful progress we’ve made on our journey to date, we know that we still have a long road ahead and many more opportunities to create positive change.
How do you see the broader fashion industry in terms of sustainable practices?
As an industry, we all need to recognise there is still a lot of work to do to reduce our impact on society and the environment. From the working conditions in our supply chains, to the environmental impacts of our logistics, our industry responsibility is multifaceted and equally important.
At THE ICONIC, we hope that through our own movement we will inspire other businesses to recognise their part in driving collective, actionable change.