Interview With Marci Zaroff From United States

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Marci Zaroff

In an effort to create sustainable clothing that is better for the environment, Marci Zaroff created her own clothing line tot forward that vision ahead!

Interview with the 2022 MUSE Design Awards Winner - Marci Zaroff

1Please give us a brief bio of yourself and your design background.

I have spent the last 30+ years pioneering environmental and social responsibility in the food, beauty, and fashion worlds. I coined the term ECOfashion in 1995 and founded Under the Canopy, a sustainable apparel and home lifestyle brand. I’ve always had a passion for fashion—I received best dressed in high school and have been an artist my whole life. I am currently the Founder and CEO of ECOfashion Corp, a “Greenhouse” of conscious fashion brands from B2B2C, and I’m the author of “ECORenaissance: Co-Creating a Stylish, Sexy and Sustainable World.”

2What made you become/why did you choose to become a designer/artist?

Art is the language of the ECOrenaissance, as I believe that thru the lens of design, we can change the world. We’re all creators and have created the reality we live in today, so it’s time to design a new—cleaner, greener and healthier—reality. Everything starts with design and co-creation. With its cache and widespread appeal, fashion is the most powerful vehicle in the world for transformation. YES, we can appeal to people at a visceral level through an aesthetic experience such as modern style and high quality, AND we can embed the why, how, where, when, and who as value-add.

3Tell us more about your business/company, job profile, and what you do.

A serial entrepreneur, ecolifestyle expert, author, and global keynote speaker, today I am the Founder and CEO of ECOfashion Corp—with a B2B turkey, private label sustainable fashion manufacturing platform called METAwear, a regenerative organic cotton farm project called RESET, QVC organic lifestyle brands Farm to Home and Seed to Style, and a cutting-edge contemporary sustainable fashion brand and D2C retail marketplace called Yes And. I am a Board Member and/or Ambassador of numerous organizations—including the Organic Trade Association, Textile Exchange, Fashion Revolution, LIU Fashion, the United Nations, I am a Voter, the Rodale Institute, Love Serve Foundation, Women’s Earth Alliance, and more.

4What does “design” mean to you?

Art is life and has no borders or boundaries. Design is a global, unifying, and inclusive language, which inspires creative expression, innovation and progress—tapping into humanity’s unlimited potential.

5What’s your favorite kind of design and why?

My life work is about styling the world of change, while changing the world of style—bridging the treehugger and the fashionista. Good design integrates regenerative and circular principles and is both holistic and sustainable. It’s all about no compromise—we can look good, feel good, and do good in the world.

6To you, what makes a “good” design?

As “good” business is built on people, planet, prosperity, passion and purpose, “good” design takes the entire life cycle of a product into account—addressing human and environmental wellness, farmer and worker welfare and future generations. Design that touches us on every level integrates creativity, community, consciousness, collaboration, and connection—the DNA of the ECOrenaissance.

7Describe your design style and its main characteristics.

I am driven instinctively at a gut level, dubbing my work “style with soul.” I create modern designs that fuse an awareness of our symbiotic relationship with our planet’s ecosystems and all living species. For me, it’s not just about making fashion sustainable; it’s about making sustainability fashionable. Bohemian-chic at heart, my design aesthetic mirrors a contemporary California lifestyle, with nature-inspired colors and patterns, and a unique sensibility that everything has a reason for being and a deeper source of inspiration. I love designs that speak my own language of inclusivity and timelessness. Ecofashion is not about sacrifice or deprivation; on the contrary, it’s about getting more. Yes And, design is an extension of who we are and should represent an alignment of our personal and professional values—so we can look and feel fabulous.

8Tell us about your design process.

I travel globally and am inspired by different cultures and colors, especially from my “second home” of India. We start at the source, the seed, and build up the supply chain from farm/raw materials to finished fashion—integrating ethical manufacturing processes, cradle to cradle principles, organic and preferred fibers and materials, and low-impact dyeing and finishing—free of all harmful chemicals. My amazing design team brainstorms, creates mood boards, and comes up with story lines around new on-trend season collections. I love incorporating interesting prints and innovative fabric blends, such as Tencel Lyocell and certified organic cotton—which I call “ECOlyptus. From source to story, we connect agriculture to popular culture, and are mindful of every step in our design process.

9Do you think your country and its cultural heritage has an impact on your design process?

I’ve learned a lot through manufacturing both offshore and in the USA. At METAwear/ECOfashion Corp, we’ve created a hybrid production system combining the best of both worlds. I am in the process of reshoring, by building a “Smart Factory of the Future”—with lean manufacturing, and customizable, on-demand, non-toxic printing—expected to launch in phases starting fall/winter 2022. Designing at the intersection of regeneration and technology, I draw inspiration from India’s ancient healing traditions and plant-based wisdom, as well a wide array of celebrity, fashion-tech, and culture trends from the USA.

10Congratulations! As the winner of the 2022 MUSE Design Awards, what does it mean to you and your company and team to receive this award distinction?

Elevating my company with a MUSE Design Award signifies that sustainable fashion is no longer a niche concept, but instead, has finally crossed into a more mainstream audience. My personal and business ethos is that ECOfashion IS the future of fashion, so I’m honored and thrilled to be recognized, since my work has been many years in the making.

The honor is to move forward better. We will continue to innovate and strive for greater breakthroughs and innovations.

11Can you explain a bit about the winning work you entered into the 2022 MUSE Design Awards, and why you chose to enter this project?

YES! Our designs stand for no compromise—cool AND conscious. Value AND values. Style AND sustainability. YesAnd gives consumers a way to buy what they love and seek, while making a positive difference in the world so that consumers can vote with their dollars. The project we entered simply features this way of thinking about design. We are breaking the stigmas. A role model for the future of good design, we want people to shift their thinking from “why would I buy sustainable fashion?” to “why wouldn't I?”

12What was the biggest challenge with this project?

We are still stabilizing from the global pandemic, where there were certainly a lot of roadblocks such as supply chain and logistical issues, rising cotton and freight costs, and delayed timelines. Having said that, I believe that challenges are opportunities to get stronger, smarter and clearer.

13How has winning an Award developed your practice/career?

It is empowering to receive this recognition, now more than ever before, further validating that I’m on the right track. The fashion industry is finally waking up and I’m proud and thrilled to be at the forefront of this growing movement.

14What are your top three (3) favorite things about our industry?
  1. Unlimited creative potential—from ideation to print to design to reality.
  2. I have been in this industry for 30+ years, and I love that I am still constantly learning. With cutting-edge innovation opportunities popping up every day, we haven't even scratched the surface into this new world of creative vision, sustainable design, and climate action.
  3. Collaboration: I believe that 1+1=11 and we are stronger together than apart. Coopertition is the new competition, as people and companies genuinely want to join forces to solve our collective issues.
15What makes your country specifically, unique in the design industry?

The entrepreneurial and cultural spirit of the USA is unparalleled. Because of America’s global lifestyle influence (organic and plant-based food and beauty, celebrity/influencers, technology, etc.), we as Americans have very loud “storytelling” voices on the worldwide stage. When we make noise about good things, like sustainable design, a ripple effect happens, which often reverberates internationally.

16Where do you see the evolution of design industry going over the next 5-10 years?

I believe that smart technology is the next frontier—driving innovation of lean manufacturing, traceability, robotics, and on-demand production models that focus on zero-waste and the reduction, or elimination, of toxic chemicals. Designers and brands will be held more accountable to transparency, climate action, social justice, water stewardship and clean energy. Circular, bio-based, and regenerative materials will replace virgin synthetics and supply chains will be tracked on blockchains to validate impact metrics. Sustainability is no longer about staying ahead; it’s about not being left behind.

17If you were a student entering this industry or an aspiring MUSE Design Awards submitter, what advice would you give them?

Design is deeper than what we see. Be a part of the solution, not the problem. The fashion industry, as we know it today, is NOT sustainable and cannot continue with a linear model mentality. Fashion is an extension of who we are. Be the change and wear the change we all wish to see.

18What resources would you recommend to someone who wants to improve their skills in the design industry?

There are incredible sustainable fashion programs at schools like Parsons and LIU, and many other fashion schools. Look into the Textile Exchange, Organic Trade Association, and fashion policy initiatives like the Fashion Revolution Movement. Read about transparency and inform yourself about how you can be a part of the movement.

19Tell us something you have never told anyone else.

At the core, I am an artist. I started my own calligraphy business at 11, and always loved pottery and ceramics. I’m wired to want to create, art is a natural evolution of who I am.

20Who has inspired you in your life and why?

Horst Rechelbacher, Founder of Aveda, has been my greatest role model. He was forward-thinking and iconic; he embodied the power of design. He appealed to people at the visceral level with gorgeous design while always keeping his beliefs of sourcing plant-based and organic ingredients. He was using the same principles that I was drawn to and applying them in a different category. I got married at his house on 1/11, because 1+1 = 11, and I believe we’re stronger together than apart – his presence in my life was a testament to this. He wrote the forward to my book, ECORenaissance – it was the last thing he wrote before he passed in 2014.

21What is your key to success? Any parting words of wisdom?

Don’t get stuck in the muck – every perceived challenge can be your greatest opportunity to grow and excel. Don’t get fixated on how to get to your destination, just allow for all of the twists and turns and embrace them with excitement. Stay positive and enjoy the journey.

22Do you have anything else you would like to add to the interview?

It’s not about being perfect, it’s about being transparent. My design strategy is that we’re all in this together. Everyone is a part of the process. Always stay open to ideas, collaboration, and co-creation.

Winning Entries

Sustainable Fashion | 2022


Carbon mitigation is a priority touchpoint for our team at ecofashionCORP and we believe this should be a top focus for all global fashion brands. The fashion industry has the power to change the course of climate change. Cotton is the most heavily sprayed agricultural crop, which is an integral starting point to understand and explore the connection between soil health, planetary health, and human health. We are currently working on a dynamic array of projects so that we can drive carbon reduction up our supply chain. We are involving a number of industry-trusted, impact data-collecting tech partners, who are…
(read more at MUSE Design Awards)

Marci Zaroff

In an effort to create sustainable clothing that is better for the environment, Marci Zaroff created her own clothing line tot forward that vision ahead!

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