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Mindful : December 2013
44 mindful December 2013 business “We’re fortunate to have a sophisticated customer who under- stands the value of our clothes,” says Fisher. “There’s a price for lasting quality and sustainability. It should be industry standard, but it isn’t by any means.” (including the recent Bangladeshi factory that collapsed, killing more than a thou- sand people). Fashion is not always pretty. But Fisher is not in the fashion busi- ness. “ We’re in the clothing business,” she says. “The word ‘fashion’ connotes fast-paced and pla nned obsolescence, the throwaway culture. That annoys me.” She winces at the thought. We’re sitting in the compa ny’s desig n center, three floors on Fifth Avenue in the Flatiron district. With high ceilings, open spaces, and lots of natural light, each floor brims with fabrics and clothing in various states, patterns, mannequins, pictures of clothing throughout the ages (for inspiration), glowing screens, a nd lots of people, mostly women. It’s a hive of creative activity. Fisher settles her lanky, flowing fra me into a comfy seat. She sits upright, statu- esque, if statues could breathe and laugh. The conference room is glass-walled, and we look out on a spacious kitchen– dining a rea where employees mill about. A small chime and striker sit on a side table; they’re for sig naling the minute of silence that begins a ll meetings. Award plaques fill the wall outside the door. Eileen Fisher has been recognized as one of the top 500 women-owned businesses and, for nine yea rs running, one of the 25 best small-to-medium-sized compa nies to work for. Before we talk business, Fisher talks values. For her, the two a re insepa rable. “That minute of silence may be a small thing, but it creates a little spaciousness. It gives people a little taste of something, and that effect starts to ripple,” she says. “ People in all kinds of corporations have been doing it, and they credit us for giving them the idea, even if we never dealt with them directly. You don’t know who might be meditating in a corporate office somewhere as a result of taking that little break. “I don’t go a round saying I meditate, but in my life and work, I try to live those values. Mindfulness means slowing Eileen Fisher has been recognized as one of the 25 best small-to-medium- sized companies to work for.