I have listened to Diana Verde Nietro speak at many events over the past couple of years and have been fortunate enough to sit down with her on a couple of occasions. Every time, it struck me how passionate and sincere her words were when we were talking one to one, without any audience or microphone. Diana and her team believe in their mission, which is to illuminate the brands that are making positive social impact and, in turn, put pressure on other companies to conform to this new mode of behavior.

For this reason, I am delighted to feature Positive Luxury on the Horyou blog…

Positive Luxury and its Butterfly Mark
Positive Luxury and its Butterfly Mark

1) One of the tag lines of Horyou is ‘Dream, Inspire, Act’. Tell us where the inspiration for Positive Luxury came from and what made you take action?

Positive Luxury was founded with the ambition to influence brands to do better and inspire and mobilize 2.5 billion wealthy consumers to buy better, from brands that care about people and the planet. My co-founder, Karen Hanton, and I wanted to combine our experience and knowledge to simplify sustainability and positively communicate the actions of brands directly to the consumer, through technology. Positive Luxury helps brands to talk about their values, and the Butterfly Mark allows consumers to instantly recognise brands they can trust, and discover the values that match their own.

2) Social impact and ESG (Environmental Social Governance) are quickly infiltrating the corporate business landscape, CEO’s are beginning to care, what has brought about this change?

In the past, sustainability was retrofitted into the organization – it took the form of philanthropy and supply chain management. However, today is a different matter. The visionary leaders of today believe that making their products or services responsibly – in other words, with minimum environmental impact and maximum positive impact on society – is the logical and only way to do profitable business. It is through these leaders that real and sustainable change will be effected. In 1987, The Brundtland Report defined sustainable development as “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”. Back then, sustainable development was all about leadership – starting from the top and working down. Of course, supply chain is terribly important, but it pains me to see how it has become a distraction from the more important questions of corporate purpose, model and culture.

3) Tell us about what Positive Luxury are working on right now in the area of sustainability and luxury?

We’re working with brand members and online retailers across the areas of Fashion and Accessories, Watches and Jewellery, Travel and Hospitality, Beauty, Premium Drinks and Living to place the Butterfly Mark next to awarded brands product or services online. This enables the consumer to instantly recognize which brands embody luxury while protecting our planet’s resources, resulting in building trust, increasing brand loyalty and ultimately aims to increase sales. Everybody wins; brands, retailers, consumers and society at large.

Diana Verde Nieto, CEO of Positive Luxury
Diana Verde Nieto, CEO of Positive Luxury

4) Do you believe that millennials are driving the change and forcing businesses towards more transparent, ethical and sustainable business practices?

Absolutely, with a new buying generation comes new buying behavior patterns. As millennials (those born between 1982 and sometime in the early 2000s) reach the age where they have growing disposable income, the economy is registering a change in the expectations consumers have of brands. Millennials are twice as likely to support brands with strong management of environmental and social issues, and twice as likely to check product packaging for sustainability performance.

5) The CEO of Kering luxury group Francois Pinault recently made the decision to make the results of their sustainability targets publicly available. Do you think this represents a sea change in how serious luxury brands are taking sustainability? That it is really becoming a core part of business as much as marketing or finance strategy would be?

Luxury brands take their responsibility very seriously, and we have seen a great change thanks to CEO’s recognising this. Sustainability is the most important question for any CEO; it depends much more on a company’s business model and corporate culture than on its policies and processes; and that it is embedded throughout the business, rather than operated as a separate department. Why? Today’s CEOs are increasingly convinced that climate change and resource scarcity are critical issues; in this year’s Global CEO Survey by PWC, 46% agreed that these issues will “transform their business” (rising to between 62% and 76% amongst those in extractives, paper and packaging).

6) Horyou support people acting on their dreams, what is the ultimate goal of Diana Verde Nieto for Positive Luxury?

To make the Butterfly Mark famous globally and for my team to keep growing but remain as hungry and humble as we are on day one. As you can see, the ethos of Positive Luxury is very similar to that of Horyou. Diana realised that constant consumerism in a finitely resourced world cannot exist but there are alternatives. It is often the easiest solutions that are hardest to find, so it takes time, energies, commitment and team work to keep going. Positive Luxury has found the alternatives to fast fashion and with every Butterfly Mark awarded, the revolutionary wheel is turning.

We wish Diana and Positive Luxury every success.

Written by Dearbhla Gavin

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