Interview of the Week: Maria Devaney, Founder of Blue S.O.S.

Precious King and Maria Devaney of Blue S.O.S.

Maria Devaney is the Founder of Blue S.O.S., which organizes next-gen consumers behind ocean-friendly brands in the fashion, beauty, technology, and travel industries.

ODP:  This year, the theme of the World Economic Forum was sustainability.  The fashion industry has a role to play.  What did the industry announce this week about its sustainability effort?

MD:  In 2019, the global fashion industry came to terms with its negative environmental impact and now recognizes that 2020 is the year in which it must act. Fashion is the number two polluting industry in the world- behind carbon, so immediate progress can be made by having this industry commit to doing better.  There is a ton of opportunity within the fashion and beauty industries right now to re-think everything- production practices, product formulations, packaging, the list goes on.  Smart marketers recognize that next-gen consumers demand better from the brands they buy and that they associate their identities behind the products they purchase.

ODP: Which fashion brands have already come to terms with the need to be more sustainable?  Why?

MD:  There are start-ups popping up, who are doing amazing things in sustainability- and in certain instances oceans sustainability. These companies are financially successful faster because they combine cutting-edge design with an authentic commitment to the environment.  With French President Emmanuel Macron organizing Paris into the “World’s Sustainable Fashion Capital” by 2024, we see lots of super cool things bubbling up there.  We love Soi Paris-founded a year ago by two young sisters named Aurélie & Julia- their business is on fire and they are about to open their second store in Paris.  We also love Veja sneakers- which are all the rage in Paris, London, and New York.  They are vegan.  And they are made with raw materials sourced from organic farming and ecological agriculture that their founders say avoids chemicals and polluting processes.  Stateside, we love luxury beauty brand Soleil Toujours – whose sunscreen was declared the first to be coral-friendly by watchdog group Wise Oceans, and whose other skincare products are divine- for both people and the planet.  Soleil Toujours also just switched up their packaging- replacing 95% of their current plastic packaging with a sustainable sugarcane bio-plastic.

ODP: What are the continued barriers to making the fashion industry more sustainable?

MD:  The big fashion houses appear to be having a hard time making change happen quickly enough.   As The Blue S.O.S. organizes next-gen consumers behind brands that are really doing it, we find that the start-ups often make much more of an impact, much faster.   For example, Soleil Toujours was specifically launched to fill a void in the marketplace, to deliver a product for consumers that simply did not exist.  The big fashion and beauty houses have for some reason been caught completely flat-footed, and are forced to play catch-up on sustainability in ways that- for some reason – they never planned.

ODP:  What is the Global Fashion Agenda and what is in their new sustainability playbook?

MD:  While The Blue S.O.S. organizes young consumers and match-makes them behind particular products that are already sustainable, The Global Fashion Agenda is organizing the industry behind the idea of becoming more sustainable.  The Global Fashion Agenda advocates for policy changes and measures that support sustainability targets for the entire industry.

ODP: What is the best thing consumers can do to encourage more sustainability in fashion?

MD:  They can vote with their wallets!  Consumers should take a close look at the brands that they currently purchase, and see if they measure up.  They should look for an authentic sustainability story, and vow to support brands that deliver accordingly.  The blue economy will be built one individual at a time.   And follow @theblues.o.s on Instagram!!!  The account is masterminded by our amazing student team at Georgetown University.  They run our social media accounts today.  Tomorrow, they’ll run the world.

Thank you so much, Maria.  We are behind you all the way in building The Blue Sustainable.Oceans.Story. and your mission to make the fashion and beauty industries more sustainable.

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