Under the Canopy: Organix Style with Soul
Such careful attention to details and maintaining a strong, values-driven mission, is making other merchants, such as Bill Miller, president of Eziba, sit up and pay attention. Miller, a cataloger of artisan-made gifts, jewelry and home accessories, now will carry UTC’s organic apparel. He calls UTC’s product line a good fit with Eziba’s mission and customer base.
Zaroff says wholesaling is a great next step for UTC, because it increases the product quantities that can be produced, which ultimately drives up the company’s margins.
Zaroff has extensive expertise in business and the organic industry in particular — and that, say many who know her, is UTC’s unique selling proposition, or USP.
In the 1980s, Zaroff earned her degree in finance and marketing. She then worked for a Wall Street investment bank. In 1990, she founded Gulliver’s Living and Learning Center, a Manhattan-based wellness center that offered natural foods cooking classes, yoga, an Aveda spa and a cafe serving organic cuisine. Within only a few years, the center had 30,000 members.
But by the mid-1990s, Zaroff was ready for a change. “I realized that along with the growing popularity of organic food, yoga and eco-travel, consumers were ready to take the next step: apparel and home goods made from organic fibers,” she says.
She drew on her own sense of style to drive a new consumer fashion trend for which she coined the term ECOfashion®. Today, Zaroff is well-known in the organic-products industry. She teaches courses worldwide on organic fibers; is on the Organic Trade Association’s Organic Fiber Council Steering Committee; and is an anchor educator and active participant in the Global Organic Exchange, a group of companies committed to boosting the organic fiber industry.
While Zaroff’s vision for high-style organic fashions seems like a unique and timely idea, that does not necessarily translate into smooth sailing ahead. As alluded to earlier, Zaroff has a horror story to tell — one that can be viewed as instructive for catalog entrepeneurs.