After many years of fighting for sustainability on the fire side of fashion, Megan Meiklejohn has joined Land to Market to focus on innovation in the supply chain.
After leaving Ralph Lauren last month after a year-long run, she took a weekend off before coming to Boulder, Colo.-based Land to Market, which is the first verified sourcing solution for regenerative farming. Before taking on her role as senior vice president of innovation in the supply chain, Meiklejohn worked for years as a sustainability specialist for Eileen Fisher.
Land to Market works with the Savory Institute’s global network of hubs to evaluate more than 12,000 trained farmers and millions of acres of land for regenerative purposes. Land to Market’s verified seal utilizes the ecological result verification protocol to assess positive trends in the country’s health among thousands of farms and ranches. The Savory Institute is a nonprofit, and Land to Market is a program within the institute.
“The Land to Market program is a kind of commercial solution for the brand. What we do is manage these supply chains and make sure that materials that a brand uses come from a farm or ranch that has undergone Verification of Organic Result. That’s the scientific piece. These farms have been measured for various health indicators in an ecosystem. They will have to show positive trends year after year to be part of the program, ”said Meiklejohn.
Brands like Timberland are members of Land to Market. As for the biggest obstacle to getting brands or companies on board, she cited the supply chain, noting how fashion is a huge industry. “No matter what we do, it will have a huge impact. Right now we do not have very good influence. There are many negatives that happen in fashion. We have this great opportunity to change that. Regenerative land management and regenerative agriculture are certainly a very big part of that solution. We need to start connecting these dots in the supply chain to make the adoption or use of these materials easier for a brand. They create and manufacture new products all year round. Sometimes it’s three seasons or four seasons or more. We need to make these supply chains a little easier to work with to facilitate adoption. Hopefully this will become the norm in the future and it is not seen as a very small market, ”she said.
Having worked on the fire side of fashion since 2014, she has always focused on transparency in the supply chain and accelerating the adoption of sustainable materials. Examining wool opportunities at Eileen Fisher to achieve the company’s goal of using sustainable wool led her to understand regenerative agriculture, holistic management and the potential positive impact that fashion could have on the world, as opposed to “just minimizing damage more,” said Meiklejohn.
The eco-friendly American brand started using wool from one of the Savory Institute’s hubs in Argentina. It made her want to sway other brands in order to also adopt materials from regeneratively controlled ecosystems to gain greater influence and spark change in the industry.
As much as she loved working with brands, Meiklejohn said she is happy to work in the supply chain to work with many brands to speed up adoption. Her goal is to enable brands to more easily use materials from regeneratively managed supply chains. “Right now it is very difficult. We have these opaque supply chains and there is not much transparency in the industry, ”she said, adding that experience has taught her that in order to have a positive impact and a traceable product, you need to design a supply chain with the product. “You can’t look back and try to trace it after the product is designed or made.”
Creating supply chains by starting at farm level interests her most. During the pandemic, Meiklejohn moved to Pennsylvania from Manhattan. Next week, she travels to Boulder for a team meeting at a Savory Institute bison ranch. The Savory Institute, which consists largely of teleworkers, allows employees to travel to meet with breeders, as well as in the case of Meiklejohn brands in New York City.
Noting how this endeavor provides a huge opportunity for the industry, she noted how fashion is rooted in agriculture, and “we have a huge potential to create really good out of it. Fashion can be a strength for good due to natural fibers. We can take advantage of regenerative agriculture and create a positive effect – increase biodiversity, improve the water cycle, reduce carbon, increase soil fertility and even the well-being of farmers. ”