With each passing year, consumers care more about the impact their purchases have on the world around them–especially younger generations, who are willing to spend at least 10 percent more money on sustainably made and ethically sourced products. This is part of the reason that Jane Mosbacher Morris decided to launch TO THE MARKET in 2016, a social enterprise that boasts “a sustainable and transparent supply chain” as well as “sustainable sourcing and manufacturing.”
There’s no question that Morris has been successful in her endeavors. In addition to founding and serving as CEO to TO THE MARKET and authoring her first book, Buy the Change You Want to See: Use Your Purchasing Power to Make the World a Better Place, which has received high praise from other successful women like Gayle Smith, Cindy McCain, and Ambassador Melanne Verveer, she was also named one of the “25 World’s Greatest Leaders” by Fortune Magazine because of her response to COVID-19.
As a writer at Eco-Stylist, I sought out Morris to answer my questions about sustainability, the conscious consumer, and achieving success as a woman in the workplace, and she graciously agreed.
When asked about her definition of sustainability, Morris indicates a two-fold nature of the term: First, impact on the planet, such as water usage, carbon emission, and chemical use. Second, the longevity of what’s being built.
TO THE MARKET is “focused on building a business with their supplier that is consistent and ongoing,” rather than engaging with them in an erratic way, which can be difficult for everyone involved. As Morris notes, “sustainability also means consistency in partnerships with suppliers.”
Morris is compelled by the opportunity to leverage the market to drive social justice and environmental change. She says this is possible because “the market size is often so much larger than the amount of money that can be committed to helping address challenges through not-for-profit or government sources,” explaining that billions–possibly even trillions–of dollars can be leveraged for change.
“Billions—possibly even trillions—of dollars can be leveraged for change.”
She finds it exciting to be able to drive change through the private sector, which is another part of the reason she decided to pursue sustainability in her work.
On Success and Imposter Syndrome
Despite–or perhaps, because of–everything she’s accomplished, Morris admits to occasionally experiencing Imposter Syndrome, which, according to Time Magazine, is the feeling “you’ve only succeeded due to luck, and not because of your talent or qualifications.” Imposter Syndrome is increasingly common, and most people will experience it at some point in their lives.
When asked how she manages this feeling, Morris says she reminds herself of what she’s accomplished already and reaffirms what she’s capable of doing in the future. “I have to remind myself that I’ve actually been able to execute on all of these pieces, and don’t need to feel like I’m not worthy of being here,” she says.
“I have to remind myself that I’ve actually been able to execute on all of these pieces, and don’t need to feel like I’m not worthy of being here.”
Execute she has. On top of helping retailers and brands source and manufacture products that are socially and environmentally responsible and writing a book that teaches people how to make a greater social and environmental impact with their daily purchases, she’s also shifted her business’s focus from sustainable apparel, accessories, and home goods to shipping millions of units of environmentally-friendly PPE across the country, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
On Empowering Women
Morris has also stated that she cares deeply about empowering women, which she characterizes as ensuring a woman’s gender “is in no way a barrier to pursuing whatever life they choose,” whether that life entails “running a Fortune 500 company, being a stay-at-home mom, or any other path that interests them.” Morris believes that choice is key when it comes to empowerment; gender should never be the determining factor for whether or not a person is able to achieve their goals. TO THE MARKET upholds this vision by working with women-owned and operated factories and connecting ethically-focused consumers to overlooked makers around the world.
Of course, just as there are industries dominated by men, there are other industries dominated by women, and sustainable fashion is one of them. Morris firmly believes this gap should be closed, stating that the sustainable fashion sphere could absolutely benefit from more male thought leaders. She points to the founder of Eco-Stylist, Garik Himebaugh, as “one of the few brilliant examples who has really been able to break out and establish himself as a more unique voice.”
Eco-Stylist is an online resource for ethical fashion that thoroughly researches every brand with our sustainable brand criteria. By building a resource you can trust, focused only on the best brands, Eco-Stylist is making it easier for men and women to shop by their values. In this way, Garik works to bring men into an area of the market traditionally dominated by women.
Morris asserts that the sustainable fashion sphere should continue to diversify, identifying that “having more genders, ethnicities, socio-economic statuses, and countries represented is an important part of making conversation around sustainable and ethical products widespread” if we want the industry to spread beyond one, homogenous community.
“Having more genders, ethnicities, socio-economic statuses, and countries represented is an important part of making conversation around sustainable and ethical products widespread.”
On Her Legacy
When asked to consider the big picture of her career and what she’d like her legacy to be, Morris says that she measures her success by how effectively she’s able to leverage her own unique gifts and personal privileges.
Morris asks a question of herself that, perhaps, we should all ask as we make big and small choices every day, from the career paths we choose to the clothing we buy:
“How did I leverage all of [my] opportunities to make an impact on the world and leave it in a place that is ultimately better for others?”
Celia Wiseman studied Communication and Creative Writing at the University of Iowa, and her growing interest in sustainable living led her to Eco-Stylist. In her free time she enjoys reading, writing, and making videos, as well as any other activity that allows her to get creative.