A Business Model on Sustainability That Makes a Difference – Leader Behind the “Coyuchi for Life”

BÜLENT DAL | CEO

One of the most important achievements I gained from my participation in this year’s NRF 2019 was to meet the CEO of Coyuchi, Eileen Mockus, and to talk about Coyuchi‘s vision in delivering a sustainable vision of home textile products.

Sustainability is the process of maintaining change in a balanced environment, in which the exploitation of resources, the direction of investments, the orientation of technological development and institutional change are all in harmony and enhance both current and future potential to meet human needs and aspirations.

Coyuchi provides organic home products including bed linens which was founded 30 years ago in Northern California, today headquartered in San Francisco. Coyuchi takes expert care to ensure that everything that bears the Coyuchi label is produced and processed to the strictest environmental standards in safe and humane conditions by relying on the USDA National Organic Program, Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS), the International Labour Organization (ILO) and Fair Trade USA.

Eileen Mockus is Chief Executive Officer of Coyuchi, Inc. Eileen holds a Bachelor of Science in Textile and Clothing from the University of California, Davis and Master of Science in Business Administration with an emphasis on Small Business and Entrepreneurship at San Francisco State University.  Before joining Coyuchi as Vice President of Product Development in 2011, she worked in textile production, sourcing and materials testing for The North Face, Patagonia and Pottery Barn Kids. Elenie Mockus was among the most active female leaders at NRF 2019 and attended “The power of negotiation” and “Is sustainable the new sexy?” sessions as speaker.

Before Mockus started working, Coyuchi was mainly a wholesale company. Mockus has paid attention to the development of the e-commerce channel and recently the volume of e-commerce has reached a much higher volume than all other channels. When I asked Mockus how they were benefiting from digitalization and e-commerce, she said that they started getting feedback they couldn’t get about the customer before thanks to e-commerce. On the other hand, thanks to digitalization and mobile, they can follow the quality of the product and the source from the field.

Their latest impact-driven initiative is “Coyuchi For Life”, which allows customers to buy a subscription plan for new sheets or towels every six, 12, or 24 months, depending on customer preference, for a small discount off the retail price. When their rental period ends, customers send back the sheets to Coyuchi for a new set, and Coyuchi cleans and mends the used set and then sells the used sheets to customers at a discounted price at their retail location. “Coyuchi For Life” balances their customers desires to have “newness at a faster pace,” while allowing the brand to have a “longer-term relationship with and take responsibility for the product. Coyuchi satisfies people who are sensitive to contribute less waste to the world.

Mockus emphasized the importance of the digital channels for Coyuchi to interact well with customers who love organic products and prefer quality and end added that the same customer segment probably buy organic food, eats at high qualified restaurants and wants to know the origin of their foods. It is obvious that this segment has similar preferences in clothing, food and other retail products and there is an opportunity to create a value.

Mockus continued her speech that digitalization had a positive effect to evolve more business partnerships. They list their products at leading marketplaces like Wayfair and Amazon. Being available at Amazon since 2017, leading to more than 50% of products searches from Amazon and Amazon Prime is a good option for some of their customers. The other digital platform to reach the end customer is Zola which offers wedding products and services. They also use e-catalog, google and facebook channels to engage with Coyuchi customers.

Mockus, with the vision of being the most reliable and largest organic textile brand, stated that long-term reliable relationships are very important for Coyuchi and they supply a significant portion of the products used in are supplied from outside of the United States. One of the major suppliers for many years they were very pleased with the ongoing product quality is based in Turkey. I asked if they want to offer their products in Turkey  and was answered that the biggest obstacle was different bed sizes to sell their products abroad. For this reason, they do not feel ready for markets outside the North American market.

While digitalization is threatening for many companies, for a wholesales company like Coyuchi it is strengthening the company with a single store in the headquarters with a growth of 20% per annum and a long-term connection with the end-user. Today 20% of Coyuchi’s revenue is from online sales. According to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) report, there is 13 million tons of textile waste each year. EPA predicts that recycling these waste will create as much effect as cleaning 7.3 million automobiles’ carbon footprint. There is a customer segment who cares about sustainability and despite of the increasing competition in the retail, there is always an opportunity for companies such as Coyuchi can appeal new business models to make a difference.

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