I have been in the apparel industry for several years, absorbing as much information as possible along the way and continuously learning to this very day. My leadership has also transformed and evolved due to this. Today, I lead an apparel business founded on purpose, with a clear mission and vision that reflect my own personal values.
I created Better Narrative to create awareness and shift mindsets. I believe better business practices exist, that they can and should be adopted. I am creating and manufacturing apparel from repurposed plastic because I know it is entirely possible to take a modern-day problem and turn it into opportunity to remedy it instead of fueling it.
The Foundation of ALL Leadership
Does leading a purpose-driven company mean adopting a different leadership style?
I don’t necessarily believe so. In my view of leadership, there are certain values that build the foundation from which all else is built.
Whether operating in a traditional or in a sustainable space, the foundation of leadership remains unchanged. Leadership is built on trust, transparency, humility, novelty and creativity. These values are necessary to achieve a level of leadership that gives it the legs from which everything stands.
A Non-Traditional Structure to Match a Non-Traditional Mission
In my experience, I have learned that in order to have real impact, you must change the way you do things. When you are not chasing profits, you are not adopting short-term strategies for maximum gain. What you ARE doing is playing a long-term game with incremental gains towards lasting change.
For me, this means adopting structures and habits that value equality and inclusiveness in equal measure to accountability and responsibility. I accomplish this by:
- Having a flatter structure. Hierarchy limits people. I believe everyone is talented and capable. Titles create walls and limit people to what they are TOLD their limits are. I build teams in a circular way. A designer with 25 years of experience and one with 2 years of experience have equal value. When working toward a common goal, a team approach means job roles are not set in stone, where a person does job x and won’t do job y. This type of thinking depletes creativity.
- Working in a democratic system. Numbers don’t lie. As president and co-founder of my company, I will not automatically assume my ideas are best and what I say goes. If put to a vote, 4 out of 5 team members don’t agree, the majority wins, fair and square. The bottom line: Listen! Input is not weighted by titles and roles.
- Walking through mistakes together. This means using mistakes as a learning opportunity for the whole team. It is not to berate or point fingers, it is a way to grow together and continuously improve.
- Enjoying the wins. It’s easy to look over small victories when you are always chasing bigger ones. But just as a team we walk through mistakes, it is equally important to savor the wins, no matter how small. It is instrumental as a team to take a sip of champagne to celebrate along the journey.
Leadership in a Purpose-Driven Company
I lead a purpose-driven company. We are driven by the needs of society and our vision and mission is one that is echoed by many people, even outside the company. Because of our ethos, people are drawn to us and when people rally around a purpose, you get the best out of them. It’s that simple.
When you are creating value that is socially driven, it is shared and owned by everyone that touches it. It is bigger than profits and economic gain, and ultimately, leads to sustainability, for the company and society as a whole.
About Mayer Vafi
Mayer is the co-founder of Better Narrative, a revolutionary company dedicated to sustainable living and ensuring a future for generations to come by repurposing waste into elegant apparel. Mayer works from a mindset of abundance where the fulfilment of corporate goals need not come at the expense of the planet and humanity. Through Better Narrative, Mayer works relentlessly at shaping consumer behaviors through education about the impact of plastic waste on a global scale.
Mayer’s leadership philosophy is based on sustainable living and letting businesses drive themselves by aligning decisions with people, planet, and profits. He speaks about how people depend on a healthy economy, and a healthy economy needs a healthy global ecosystem where people and all living things flourish. He is passionate about educating people on the effects of plastic on the environment, and how waste can be repurposed. He has been featured in local and national talk shows, and has been invited to speak to audiences of all ages.
Learn more about Mayer Vafi
Learn more about Norden Project apparel by Better Narrative