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Designing Sustainability

Glover-for-webWhen Stephanie Glover ’04 was only five, her mother gave her a copy of Shel Silverstein’s The Giving Tree—in French—another of many attempts by her parents to expose her to other cultures and encourage her to try new things. Throughout her childhood, many of her friends came from different backgrounds, and diversity of experience became a given.

That way of life was reinforced at Augsburg, where she discovered that the wide cultural swath of her classmates’ backgrounds was a significant enhancement to her education in International Relations, as was her study abroad, in Aix en Provence, France.

Later, after a four-year stint of teaching in France and South Korea, Glover decided to volunteer in the Republic of Georgia—an experience that she now views as life-changing. Armed with very little knowledge about the country, she spent about a week in foreign language training, then made her way to the home of her host family, high in the Borjomi Mountains. They spoke little English, and Glover’s Georgian was shaky at best, so early days were challenging. But transformation lay ahead.

Trips down the mountain took about an hour, and consequently were infrequent. The host family owned cows, chickens, and pigs—and they grew some crops, so the food Glover ate during that year was primarily homemade and natural. She came to an appreciation for an organic lifestyle, and felt a growing concern for the impact that eating and buying habits have on the environment. Her experience in the Borjomi Mountains would eventually inform her career choice.

When she returned to the U.S., Glover couldn’t help but notice the regularity with which we Americans waste food and materials. She could see it was incumbent upon us to improve sustainable practices, primarily by supporting companies and designers who not only work with the community producing the product, but provide a safe work environment and offer a fair wage.

Glover1Determined to make a difference, Glover created MeaMode in 2013, during her final year of graduate school. The online business helps emerging eco fashion designers around the world expand their outreach to customers interested in sustainability and the environment. By selling products on the MeaMode website that have been purchased from designers who use natural/organic materials and/or sell fair-trade products, Glover believes that MeaMode can help more people understand why sustainability is important and how global communities are affected by our choices. She hopes we will never have another tragedy like the 2013 garment factory collapse in Bangladesh.

MeaMode sells clothing and other products on its website. It is a member of 1% of the Planet (an organization that permits businesses to donate 1% of total sales each year to environmental charities), and a member of the French American Chamber of Commerce Paris (which promotes business between the U.S. and France). Visibility of eco fashion designers worldwide will be even greater soon, when MeaMode rolls out an expanded website. The rollout will include a podcast of Glover’s interview with Stephanie Boutet-Fajol, the owner of Sacre Bleu Paris, a concierge service that recently added an organic option to its customization service for international travelers planning a Parisian dream vacation. The organic option grew out of an expressed desire by many clients to use more sustainable businesses.

Glover knows that sustainable practices are essential to modifying the business model for the fashion industry, and she is especially pleased to be part of an emerging international network that takes the environment seriously.

Currently living in Lille, France, Glover enjoys taking piano lessons, spending time with friends, and watching foreign films. Brimming with ideas for her business, she works assiduously to pace herself. “I try to take it one day at a time,” she says.

— Cheryl Crockett ’89