Fashion icon Eileen Fisher weaves mindfulness and social consciousness not just into her personal life but throughout her multimillion-dollar clothing company.
“I’m the sort of tree hugger gal,” Fisher joked during an interview with ABC News’ Dan Harris for his podcast, “10% Happier.”
The founder and chairwoman of EILEEN FISHER, INC., has been in business for over 30 years. Her collections are sold in 65 EILEEN FISHER shops across the country, as well as department stores and specialty shops in the United States, United Kingdom and Canada. In 2009, the company launched the GREEN EILEEN initiative to collect donated clothes for resale or to be recycled into new garments. Last year, Fisher launched a new plan called VISION2020 to focus on using sustainable fabrics and human rights for garment workers, and she launched the Eileen Fisher Learning Lab for her employees.
“I care more about the work itself, not just the product that we create but the whole of the work, from the way people work together the way we treat each other, the way we try to create an environment where people can grow, and also the way we treat the workers and the way we care about the planet,” she said.
At the company's Irvington, New York, headquarters, employees have access to a meditation/yoga room and massage therapists. Before every meeting, Fisher and her employees will ring a bell and share a moment of silence together -- “it’s a moment to pause,” she said.
“It’s the kind of re-framing that needs to happen in the whole world of work,” Fisher continued. “I think that we can make a much bigger difference in the world through the workplace if we change our level of consciousness so that we can actually tap into the energy that everyone has and the positive energy rather than the negative.”
The company has taken some hits over the years with the recession and then in 2012 when Hurricane Sandy destroyed an Irvington store and closed her headquarters, her Manhattan design center and her warehouse in Secaucus, New Jersey, just weeks before the Thanksgiving shopping weekend. But Fisher said she never thought about pulling back on the company's social consciousness work. While using organic fabrics and dyes in her garments does cost a little more, Fisher said it's still worth it and she believes her customers feel proud supporting a brand that cares.
"Certain things are more expensive, like organic cotton cost 15 percent more, things like that, it does cost more. but the loyalty I think that the customers bring, and you know, they might look at a garment and think they want it and they look at it and they think, 'Oh, that's kind of expensive. Oh, it's organic.' I can justify that," Fisher said. "That's something meaningful."
Fisher brings that same sort of mindfulness home with her too. She said she starts every day with meditating for about 10 to 30 minutes.
“Even after years of meditating I still wake up every morning feeling crazy,” she said. “And I have to sit up and meditate or my mind will get the better of me.”
Over the years, she said she has been on meditation retreats and has tried various forms of meditation, but today she practices shambhala mediation, a form of mindfulness, and loving-kindness meditation, which is the Buddhist practice of directing good vibes toward others.
With the loving-kindness practice, Fisher said she feels like she can be more welcoming to others.
"I can feel sort of energetically that I’m more able to be warmer with people," she said. "It’s like you trick your mind.”