Kerry Cooper | The 2019 MAKERS Conference
Kerry Cooper, President & COO at Rothy’s, talks about how women’s fashion can save the planet from the 2019 #MAKERSConference at Monarch Beach Resort.
- Please welcome Kerry Cooper. [MUSIC PLAYING] KERRY COOPER: So I wanted to-- after yesterday's beautiful poem, one of our beautiful customers at The Fit Lab wrote us a poem that I thought I would start with. Rothy's are more than just shoes. They're helping the earth improve. Their sustainability empowers community. Their colors are sure to amuse. It was such a sweet thing. So thank you to-- I think it's @FeministLimericks that wrote this to us. And thank you. So I thought-- I don't have a clicker, but I thought I would just start with a little bit about me. I am a dork by trade. I'm a mechanical engineer. After getting my MBA, I went back, and I spent most of my last 20 years in retail and apparel at some brands you probably recognize, Levi's and Walmart and ModCloth. And one of the things that you see in apparel is how much waste there is. At Levi's, we were making fabric commits and capacity commits a year out. And the amount of waste is just staggering. There is a garbage truck full of clothes burned every second. A garbage truck full of clothes burned or in a landfill every second. We have to do better. And Rothy's is this amazing combination for me of all of my professional passions. It's the nitty gritty supply chain details alongside this amazing community of customers that love our brand. And with our commitment to sustainability, it really is a job I hope lasts forever. I love what I do. So I wanted to talk to you a little bit today about Rothy's and how we take a different approach to manufacturing design. And it all started with this. Some people look at this as trash, or hopefully, recycling. But that's what makes entrepreneurs, like the ones you've heard from today, different. They see possibilities. By the way, 9% of these are recycled. 12% are incinerated. And the other 80% are going into landfill. It's appalling. So in 2012, our founders, Roth and Steven, who saw their wives' lack of comfortable, sustainable shoes, went to work. They spent four years of R and D to figure out how to make a plastic water bottle into shoes. So today, you start with melting plastic into pellets, extruding it into yarn, 3D knitting it into shapes so you don't have waste of what you're cutting out, and making a beautiful, machine washable shoe. And so what began as this idea to create recycled single use plastics into something beautiful and useful led to this. Which last year, we sold a million pairs of these alone. [APPLAUSE] And what drives this brand is the women that wear it. So this brand is driven by this insanely comfortable shoe that compels people to share it. When you wear it, people stop you and say, oh, are those Rothy's? And luckily, they're distinctive looking. And so people, when they ask you-- like, are they as comfortable as people say they are? The first response you get back is, yes. And, oh, by the way, did you know they're machine washable? And when you see another woman wearing them, you can't help but kind of have a little wink and a nod of, hey, look, we're all in it together. All of us are in this together. So today, we're excited to announce we've repurposed almost 25 million water bottles. [APPLAUSE] It's not bad, but here's the thing. It's like a drop in the bucket, and this is more than just Rothy's. Sustainability isn't a fad or a gimmick. It's the future. And as we think about clean beauty movement and organic foods, sustainability is going mainstream. And conscious consumerism is here, and that's an amazing thing. So if you look at who our customers are, they're you. They are women who are demanding change. And I think all of us are the decision makers for what we buy. I think 80% of purchases are decided by the women that lead the household. And it's women like Stella McCartney, like Jenn Hyman, like my all-female executive team at Rothy's that are ones driving this change. [APPLAUSE] As our environmental crisis reaches epic proportions, these practices have to be adopted more broadly through the fashion and the retail industry. And it's a problem that requires all of us to solve. So here's my challenge to you. Think different. Take something that doesn't seem like it makes sense. Take it apart. Put it back together. We need more female entrepreneurs. Go start a business where you think you can make a difference. Take something that is destined for the landfill, and figure out how you're going to reuse it. All of us can bring fresh thinking to make sustainability work. And it won't work unless all of us do it. Thank you. [APPLAUSE] [MUSIC PLAYING]