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Meet Andrea Kennedy: Lead Practioner and Educator in Sustainability for Fashion

Andrea Kennedy, Professor at LIM College, is the lead instructor of the Sustainability: Concepts, Practices and Applications for Fashion course. 

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M Hi Andrea, tell us a bit about yourself! How did you become an expert in your domain?

A I’m an assistant professor of fashion merchandising and sustainability at LIM College in midtown Manhattan, which specializes in the business of fashionI have 30 year’s of experience in fashion design, fashion merchandising, product development, sustainability, and education. I have worked for mass market, as well as high-profile luxury brands, as well as niche brands. I’ve designed and merchandised at Bob Mackie, Calvin Klein, Donna Karan, Ann Taylor, Sunny Leigh and Groovy on Grand. At one point about 15 years ago, I learned that some of the decisions I was making as a designer, in terms of dyeing fabric, buttons and yarn to match our color standards specifically,  were causing unapproved yardage to be incinerated. And I realized that the decisions we make in fashion are driving the greenhouse gas emissions sitting up in our atmosphere. Our common fashion practices, where we literally put materials up in smoke just because we have nowhere to warehouse them, was one of many practices I soom learned that made our industry so polluting and wasteful.

I had the opportunity to really work on sustainability solutions, through Fashiondex, which is a company I founded 25 years ago. I consulted with small and large brands on imbedding sustainable processes and sources at their brands and still remain there part time as the Sustainability Lead.

I have helped many brands find sustainable sources and create sustainable action plans, and along the way went back to college to get a Master’s in Education for Sustainability as well as now, I’m pursuing my Doctorate at the Center for Sustainable Futures at Columbia’s Teachers College. I can never stop learning about sustainability!

Now and for the last few years at LIM College, I work with the Sustainability Minor students, where our students form green teams and work for high profile global fashion brands. Over a 15 week semester, the students create a 10-year sustainable action plan specifically for those brands. The plans include custom sustainability initiatives with rollout steps and cost effectiveness built in, as well as with all metrics measured and KPIs determined.

M You are teaching Sustainability: Concepts, Practices and Applications for Fashion on MOTIF. Why did you want to create that course? 

A I was excited to create and teach Sustainability: Concepts, Practices and Applications for Fashion, because I recognize, and I hope you do too, the urgent need for sustainable action in fashion and all consumer product businesses to help draw CO2 out of the atmosphere, so that we can endure for the long term. It’s important for us to understand and ask with everything we do in the design, development, production, distribution and marketing of fashion: ‘Are the decisions we are making today going to be good for those that come in the future?’

M What are the benefits of taking the course?

Taking this course can give you a competitive advantage in the hiring stage. This is because sustainability is currently one of the fastest growing categories in the fashion industry. Many companies are creating brand new sustainability teams and are hiring now. I often write references for people applying to these positions and they are increasing, from sustainability assistant, to sustainability associate, to manager of sustainability, to director of sustainability, vice president of sustainability, to chief sustainability officer! All these jobs did not exist five years ago- the time is now to get this knowledge, because many brands recognize that they no longer can sit by and continue business as usual. They are looking for people with expertise in sustainability and not many people have it. So it will be a differential advantage for you to take this course, because then you can really understand the thinking that is required to create sustainable action, as well as the actions and processes needed to put those actions in work.

                                                                                                               Sustainability: Concepts, Practices and Applications for Fashion Online Course 
M Is this course best suited for individuals or teams ? For which type of organisation?

AThis course is created for both individuals and teams. I think every individual on each team should take it because, as an African proverb states: “Alone we can go fast, but together we can go far”.

There are great benefits for all team members in all size companies. If you are in the design or sourcing department, or merchandising, product development or marketing…. you can take this course. This is not a course on how to design sustainably, but how to think sustainably and how to understand the why’s and how’s to make action plans, as well as how to tell that story internally and externally.

Everyone at every company needs sustainability knowledge to drive change, plus sustainable practices bring a unique selling perspective to your brand.

M How does this course differ from other courses? What is unique about it?

A believe what is unique about this course is that we start by explaining the Earth systems. Then we dive into systems thinking- based on those Earth systems. We explore place-based thinking, world viewing and how to make change.

This is not simply a “how to” course, it’s a course about thinking in new ways, as well as a how to, and that’s an important distinction.


It's a course about thinking in new ways, as well as how to, and that's an important distinction.

M How did you build this course? 

A Our team built the course by structuring it into modules and topics that you can take at your own pace and easily fit in your work agenda. We start with a foundation and continue through telling the story to learners. After we created the structure and the storyboard of the course, we filmed the lessons and created engaging activities along the way with visuals, because visuals tell a story better than words and interactivity fosters knowledge retention. We used the MOTIF Course Authoring Tools to then build the course on the learning platform.


M What were the challenges you faced during the course building?

A To The challenge in building this course was getting all the knowledge and insights of sustainability into one course. I believe we did that, but it was not an easy task. But….”Nothing will work unless you do”, which was said by Maya Angelou.

We worked hard on this course and hope you enjoy it and you will be empowered by your newly acquired knowledge.

M Could you share any advice to learners taking the course so they can make the most of it ?

A To make the most of this course, I suggest not skipping through anything. I think you should read all that is included more than once, because repetitiveness gets information to stick. Even watch the videos more than once, and talk about what you are learning with others…. Discussion helps us think critically. Therefore you can share you’re learning with the other people on your team and get them excited. Because the most important thing is really spreading the urgency of sustainable change; If we hold the information within ourselves then no purpose is served. So please dig deep, enjoy, and don’t just click through fast, the goal is to truly and deeply understand and take the time to contemplate. Once completed with the course, then speed up your sustainability work and share it and shout it to the world as the cheerleaders that all sustainability managers need to be. Also don’t forget, you have access to the course for a year on MOTIF, so revisit it as well!

M To close on a more personal note, who inspires you and in what ways?

A The person who inspires me most is Annie Leonard. Annie Leonard is founder of The Story of Stuff. Annie is able to tell a story in an engaging way with visuals that really get universal action and engagement. She is definitely one of my “before anyone else’s”. Please check her out; I think you’ll really be inspired by her as much as I am.

M A final thought to leave our readers with?

A I hope you enjoy this course as much as I enjoyed creating it and sharing this information. If you have any questions, please reach out to us.  And keep on reading and advocating for a fully sustainable future of fashion, because it can happen, but not without you getting everyone around you at your company and in your circle of influence to think sustainably and about the future as well. Thank you so much.

Andrea_Kennedy_Portrait_ Jacket

Sustainability: Concepts, Practices and Applications for Fashion

Lead through sustainability and be a chance agent

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