Mara Hoffman, the New York-based clothing and swimwear designer, hosted an elegant Miami dinner to kick-off Swim Week, in support of Miami Waterkeeper. It was a gorgeous evening for mojitos and a sit-down dinner at The Standard, a luxury boutique hotel in Miami Beach overlooking Biscayne Bay. Fashion industry professionals from all over the world enjoyed a three-course meal, great conversation, and a guest spotlight from Miami Waterkeeper’s Kelly Cox. After a humbling introduction from Mara Hoffman, Kelly shared Miami Waterkeeper’s mission and educated fashion industry leaders on ways they can become involved to protect and preserve their local watersheds. Water is integral to South Florida’s health, economy, and culture, yet our water resources are continually threatened. The privilege to participate in events such as these only allows us to broaden our impact to educate diverse groups in the community and promote swimmable, drinkable, fishable water for all. We would like to thank Mara Hoffman and her team for allowing us to be a part of such a wonderful evening, as well as The Standard for their ongoing partnership of Miami Waterkeeper.
We had a chance to learn more about her, her brand, and why Mara was so eager to share the night with us during this Q&A.
Q: Can you describe your lifestyle brand for us, in your own words?
Mara Hoffman: “It’s about joy and beauty, creating beautiful pieces that empower people and creating those pieces with care and consciousness of our impact.”
Biscayne Bay view from The Standard Hotel while guests mingled before sitting down for dinner
Q: Will you tell us about your connection to Miami or Biscayne Bay?
Mara Hoffman: “I have a long time love for Miami and Biscayne Bay. My husband grew up here and fished in Biscayne Bay with his grandfather, and years later, we were married here. My son learned to swim in these waters and we have always loved returning here.”
Q: Why is the work Miami Waterkeeper doing important to you personally?
Mara Hoffman: “It’s important because it’s an organization doing the hands-on, critical work to fight for our environment, and that’s personal for me.”
Q: What inspired you to commit to making your brand more sustainable?
Mara Hoffman: “It came down to a change or die moment. The more that I became aware of the industry’s impact and that of my brand on the environment; the more I wanted to change it.“
Q: Can you share with us highlights of your brand's sustainable efforts?
Mara Hoffman: “Some of our initiatives have been transitioning from plastic packaging to compostable poly bags, using regenerated nylon and recycled polyester for our swimsuits, using organic cotton over conventional, working with our vendors to help them implement a more sustainable business model, really just even starting to speak to our efforts and approach was a huge step for us.”
Mara Hoffman putting finishing touches on place settings before guests arrived to The Standard Hotel for a beautiful evening
Q: What has your response been since making the switch to become a more sustainable brand?
Mara Hoffman: “Positive; it was really important for us not to compromise the way the clothes looked or felt or made you feel. We wanted it to feel like the same brand and to take our customer with us on that journey, to help them understand the shifts that we were going through behind the scenes and why we were making them.”
Q: Would you encourage others in the industry to do the same?
Mara Hoffman: “Absolutely, 100%. One of the reasons I am doing this is to inspire other brands to start making changes, and to inspire customers to start holding their favorite brands accountable. I owe so much of what I’ve done, and continue to do, to other designers that have been in the sustainability space long before me, and now it’s coming full circle. It’s definitely a team effort; the more brands that shift their approach, the greater capacity we have to mitigate our collective impact.”
Q: Do you think there is resistance to this change in the industry? If so, why?
Mara Hoffman: “If there is resistance, I think it comes from a lack of understanding, lack of education, lack of immediate results, or general resistance to change and the accompanying effort and required energy. It’s the same as any other type of change, if you don’t understand why you’re doing it (or should be), it can be really hard to take those first steps.”
Q: Do you have any suggestions for organizations like Miami Waterkeeper to provide assistance or otherwise engage in your industry, or broader in commerce or retail?
Mara Hoffman: “I think it’s continuing to educate and engage people, pushing them to make those individual changes that are impactful on a collective level. Potentially even working with or educating brands to help them understand how they can conserve water or change the way their products impact the environment as it relates to your work.”
Q: Do you have future goals as a brand in terms of sustainability?
Mara Hoffman: “We’re constantly reevaluating and working to evolve our approach, but the ultimate goal right now is still finding transparency across our whole supply chain.”
About Mara Hoffman: Mara Hoffman founded her eponymous label in the year 2000, directly after graduating from Parsons School of Design in New York City. Privately owned since then, the lifestyle brand encompasses Women’s Ready to Wear and Swimwear. Historically known for her signature prints and silhouettes, Hoffman’s compass today points toward simpler, textural pieces that accentuate the human form, highlighting powerful feminine aesthetics. Hoffman, both the company’s President and Creative Director, is a true, living embodiment of her designs, taking inspiration from her own travels around the world as well as the beauty in everyday experiences. Headquartered in New York City with her close-knit team, Hoffman strongly believes in mindful and conscious practices, which are at the crux of the company’s ethos. Learn more at http://www.marahoffman.com/world-of/about/our-approach/