After years of championing sustainability on the brand side of fashion, Megan Meiklejohn has joined Land to Market to focus on supply chain innovation.
After exiting Ralph Lauren last month after a yearlong run, she took a weekend off before joining the Boulder, Colo.-based Land to Market, which is the first verified sourcing solution for regenerative agriculture. Prior to taking on her role as senior vice president of supply chain innovation, Meiklejohn worked for years as a sustainability specialist at 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 leverages the Ecological Outcome Verification protocol to assess positive trends in land health of thousands of farms and ranches. Savory Institute is a nonprofit and Land to Market is a program within the institute.
“The Land to Market program is sort of that commercial solution for the brand. What we do is manage those supply chains and make sure that materials that a brand is using are coming from a farm or ranch that has gone through Ecological Outcome Verification. That’s the science piece. Those farms have been measured to various indicators of health of an ecosystem. They’ll have to show positive trends year-over-year in order to be in the program,” Meiklejohn said.
Brands like Timberland are members of Land to Market. As for the biggest obstacle in getting brands or companies on board, she cited the supply chain, noting how fashion is a huge industry. “Whatever we do will have an enormous impact. Right now we don’t have a very good impact. There are a lot of negatives that happen in fashion. We have this big opportunity to change that. Regenerative land management and regenerative agriculture are definitely a very large part of that solution. We have to start connecting those dots in the supply chain to make that adoption or the use of those materials easier for a brand. They’re creating and making new products all throughout the year. Sometimes it’s three seasons or four seasons or more. We have to make these supply chains a little bit easier to work with to facilitate that adoption. Hopefully, this becomes the norm in the future and it’s not seen as a very small market,” she said.
Having worked on the brand side in fashion since 2014, she has always focused on supply chain transparency and accelerating the adoption of sustainable materials. Researching wool options at Eileen Fisher to reach 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 harm any more,” Meiklejohn said.
The eco-friendly American brand started using wool from one of the Savory Institute’s hubs in Argentina. That made her want to sway other brands to also adopt materials from regeneratively managed ecosystems to have a greater impact and spark change in the industry.
As much as she loved working at brands, Meiklejohn said she is happy to be working on the supply chain to work with many brands to accelerate adoption. Her aim is to enable brands to use materials more easily from regeneratively managed supply chains. “Right now it’s very difficult. We have these opaque supply chains and there’s not a lot of transparency in the industry,” she said, adding that experience has taught her that in order to have a positive impact and traceable product, you have to design a supply chain with the product. “You can’t look back and try to trace it, after the product has been designed or made.”
Creating supply chains by starting at the farm level most interests her. During the pandemic, Meiklejohn relocated to Pennsylvania from Manhattan. Next week she will travel to Boulder for a team meeting at a Savory Institute bison ranch. Largely comprised of remote workers, Savory Institute allows employees to travel to meet with growers, as well as in the case of Meiklejohn brands in New York City.
Noting how this endeavor presents a huge opportunity for the industry, she noted how fashion is rooted in agriculture and “we have enormous potential to create real good from that. Fashion can be a force for good because of natural fibers. We can tap into regenerative agriculture and create positive impact — increase biodiversity, improve the water cycle, draw down carbon, increase soil fertility, and even farmers’ well-being.”