Behind The Brand: Molly Crossin, CEO at Industry Standard
Molly Crossin, CEO at Industry Standard, shares with us her childhood, her passion for sustainability, how Industry Standard is intentional about the products they make, and her advice on how to live more consciously.
First off, tell us about your background! Where did you grow up? What was your childhood like? What shaped you to be who you are today?
I was born in New York but like many second children, was swiftly relocated to the suburbs of New Jersey. My parents were both entrepreneurs in their own ways; my dad (now retired) ran a law practice and my mom was a nurse who went back to school for holistic medicine and created her own side businesses. That said, they also had rich lives outside of work, full of friends and hobbies (my Dad even learned how to play violin as an adult). This has been a driving inspiration for me, reminding me that work is a part of a fulfilling life.
What does your typical day look like?
As most small business owners will tell you, there’s really no typical day. While that was true pre-2020, the past year has made it even more true. Amidst all the unknown, I’ve really leaned into my morning routine to create some grounding for my day. I start with a big cup of water and coffee then head out to walk my giant German Shepherd. I’m conscious not to dive headfirst into emails. I spend most of the day on the computer so I like to move my body and get fresh air first thing. The rest of my mornings are spent on bigger strategic projects. I use the East-West timezone difference to my advantage. By the afternoon, our factory partners are in the office so that’s when I work on product development and manufacturing. In the evening, I’ll cook dinner and eat with my boyfriend (quarantine has definitely reignited my love for cooking).
Where does your interest in the issue of sustainability stem from?
In my lifetime, we’ve seen the weather effects of climate change with our own eyes. If you are a human and interested in future generations, you are a human interested in the continuation of life on Earth. That means you’re interested in sustainability. It’s just a matter of what you do with that interest. Once I decided to get into the business of fashion, an industry predicated on excess consumption (especially fast fashion), I knew we had to be mindful of our contribution and impact.
What are the origin stories of Industry Standard? How has the company evolved since?
Industry Standard was founded to make wardrobe essentials that don’t make you choose between your ethics and your wallet. My personal style is very classic, and as a consumer I struggled to find garments that lasted from season-to-season both from a construction and style perspective, at a price I could afford. Enter Industry Standard.
Talk to us about how you and your team think about design. How are you intentional about the products you create, why do you use the fabrics you use, and how do you go about sourcing them?
Our design practice centers on a single question: is this a fundamental wardrobe piece? We strive to make the foundational elements of women’s wardrobes that last and won’t go out of style, so if it doesn’t fulfill that need, we’re not making it. With this in mind, all of our garments are made from cotton, and almost all are made using organic cotton. This is an intentional choice in that cotton is comfortable but also incredibly durable -- it can be made into a super soft sweatshirt or jeans that last. We use organic cotton in all of our tops because it’s better for the environment (less water waste) and the wearer (as it’s not sprayed with pesticides).
Where do you manufacture the products? How do you oversee your supply chain?
All of our products are manufactured in downtown LA. In the before times, I would physically be on site every 2-3 months with phone calls and emails to check in between visits. For the past year, we’ve had to get creative with FaceTime fittings and lots of texts. Fortunately I was able to safely visit recently and look forward to doing that much more post-Pandemic.
Who are your makers and how are they taken care of?
All of our garments are made by small and family-owned factories in LA that we partner with. We also work with embroiderers and artists (all female) who run their own small businesses in the US. We don’t work with anyone that isn’t paying a living wage, isn’t running a clean and ethical space, and isn’t treating their employees fairly.
What's your "Why"?
To learn as much as I possibly can. I’m a huge nerd and loved school, but as an adult, unless you’re actively curious it’s very easy to become stagnant. Before Industry Standard, I built my career in advertising which was a great fit because every time you get a new client, you need to become an expert in a new industry. It allowed me to combine my curiosity with creativity. It was also great training for running my own business. As an entrepreneur, you’re constantly wearing different hats and learning new things.
What's your personal favorite Industry Standard product?
I really love our Maya Crop Sweatpants. They’re made from organic cotton fleece and cut in a way that feels put together enough for errands but cozy enough for lounging.
What's one piece of advice you would give to our readers on how to live more consciously?
Living consciously is about being mindful of your choices and actions. That’s how I run my business and try to live my life. Industry Standard isn’t a 100% circular business, but I try to be conscious of the environmental and human impact of our actions at every point in the supply chain. Then I think about what I can do differently. It takes time. In non-business life it’s the same, slowing down to be mindful of our actions impact on others and the world around us. It could be as simple as consciously changing from paper towels to washable ones. That is a small, conscious change which reduces the waste you produce, and it adds up to a huge change over a lifetime. If you make choices like this on a regular basis, small changes, the impact can be exponential.
We hope you’ve enjoyed this interview! You can shop Industry Standard products here on Consciously.