Allison Parris is not the typical company I profile in my Philanthropy in Five series. I actually read about them in a fashion magazine, and fell in love with one of their cocktail dresses. So, I fully admit that my initial interest was fueled purely by vanity. But as I dug deeper, I found that their appeal is much more than skin deep.
Their company was built on a commitment to social and environmental responsibility, and it drives every facet of their business from design through production. I think this is important ground to cover as many define for-profit philanthropy as simply donating proceeds to a charitable cause. But philanthropy encompasses so much more than just writing a check. It is a mindset and culture that permeates the company, and is one that Allison Parris exemplifies beautifully. Unlike many companies whose internal practices are in direct opposition to their philanthropic endeavors, Allison Parris serves up sustainable style that proves corporate responsibility is a must-have piece in a company’s wardrobe.
1. How do you define for-profit philanthropy?
I try to incorporate practices that are environmentally and socially responsible into my everyday life, and it is no different in running a business. I’ve never thought of Allison Parris as being philanthropic in the traditional sense of the word, but we are trying to make good choices in the way we do business, by doing local production and using sustainable fabrics where possible to reduce the impact of our business on the environment.
2. Please describe your philanthropic business plan and your current charitable activities.
We are a designer clothing line first and foremost, but we believe it is important to make responsible choices, and do so, whenever possible. This includes using sustainable fabrics, like the PET lining that lines most of our garments (made from recycled soda bottles), producing locally and trying to reduce unnecessary waste etc. Eventually, we plan to contribute some of our profits to good environmental causes.
3. How do you communicate the impact of these efforts to your customers?
We communicate our general approach to our customers on our website and we believe that one of the reasons our customers get so excited about our line is because they can feel good about the purchase, knowing that we are making good choices, and that they don’t have to sacrifice quality to buy responsibly.
4. Why do you think it’s important for companies to adopt philanthropy as part of their revenue model?
I think it is important for everyone to give back when they can, in whatever way they can, and that extends to businesses. Many business have made it a point to donate to charities in the past, but it is even more compelling when a business attempts to incorporate a socially beneficial element into their core business model as we have done.
5. What would you say is the most critical element in successfully implementing philanthropic endeavors?
For us, it is important to continue to research additional ways to operate in an environmentally friendly manner and to experiment with new fabric technology and also to engage with our community of customers and fans to hear what they can suggest on how to improve our current policies.
Name: Marissa Kim
Company: Allison Parris