As part of our ongoing commitment to sharing positive brand stories and actions from our community, Making a Difference highlights the often unsung individuals across the luxury industry making a positive impact. It is our hope that this series will be an inspiration to people working in sustainability and show professionals – particularly at the start of their career journey – the many routes there are to making a difference.
This month the spotlight is on Stephen Webster’s Global Head of Marketing & Sustainability, Samantha Chapman.
Sustainability is part of my day-to-day role, leading our goals and future steps. I am so proud of what our team has already accomplished and look forward to progressing forward in our sustainable journey
What qualifications do you have? Did they play a role in getting you where you are today?
I studied Fashion Promotion at the UCA (University for the Creative Arts) graduating with a BA (Hons). Ironically at Rochester, the same University campus as Stephen Webster. I was fortunate that my course was a huge advocate for gaining work experience in our chosen industry. I subsequently started my first placement just two weeks after joining my course. From then, I completed two further long-term placements alongside my degree, which absolutely supported me in gaining my first marketing position and future roles.
Have you always worked in sustainability? If not, what did you do before?
My prior roles have focused on marketing and communications. Since joining the Stephen Webster team four years ago, I have been privileged to work for a brand who really cares about our communities and planet, with sustainability deeply embedded within the brand DNA and company culture. It is here I have gained considerable knowledge in sustainable practices and ethical sourcing, from Stephen directly, our incredible team, and working alongside the Positive Luxury team.
How did you end up in your current role?
Just over one year ago after returning from maternity leave, we formed an independent in-house ‘Green Team’ at Stephen Webster comprising of 10 members across various departments within the business. Each member was assigned a role and set specific goals designed to enable the brand to proactively move forward in our sustainable mission, supporting both people and planet.
Known within the business for my organisation skills and passion for sustainability, I was elected as Chair of the ‘Green Team’, responsible for setting our sustainable goals, ensure these stayed on track, and providing support to the team through research and training to allow us to achieve our targets. Since then, sustainability is part of my day-to-day role, leading our goals and future steps. I am so proud of what our team has already accomplished and look forward to progressing forward in our sustainable journey.
What made you fall in love with sustainability?
I love that I work alongside a team who isn’t afraid to challenge practices and strive to always do better, and knowing that the actions we implement can support for a more sustainable future for our generations to come and our environment. Additionally, seeing first-hand how we have avoided or reduced our impacts as a business, how we have supported our communities (both internal and external), and how we are providing the tools to equip our staff and suppliers to make better choices; it provides great job satisfaction.
What does your day-to-day look like?
No two days at Stephen Webster are the same, it’s one of the aspects I love about my role. Due to being a small team and executing large volumes of work, we work very closely together to achieve a collective goal and vision for the brand. A typical day could be anything from overseeing a shoot, preparing for upcoming events and launches, internal meetings to discuss brand strategy, budget management, or working on our current certification assessments. It’s a busy role, that requires a lot of planning and organisation, but it keeps things interesting.
What challenges have you faced?
There have been various challenges along the way. No one said it would be easy, however, when a goal has been achieved it makes it that much more rewarding.
I have been required to expand my knowledge, and to do so quickly. Luckily there is so much information available, along with Positive Luxury’s incredibly informative webinars, that have helped to bring me more up to speed. The challenge I face is things are constantly evolving with new and exciting innovations, it’s a case of dedicating time to continuously learn and further improve practices.
What are you most proud of?
Releasing our first sustainability report is something I’m very proud of. The report really showcases our progress as a company and the incredible work our team has accomplished to date. We’re excited to share this journey with our stakeholders and hopefully inspire others on what can be achieved.
What advice would you have for anyone looking to contribute to their company’s sustainability goals?
Sustainability is a marathon, not a sprint, you don’t want to fall short by setting targets you are not able to accomplish in the short term
Be realistic on what you can achieve. Sustainability is a marathon, not a sprint, you don’t want to fall short by setting targets you are not able to accomplish in the short term. Speak up if you have an idea, no matter how ‘out there’ it may seem. An idea to install beehives on our building roof are now in place as a result. Know that approaching sustainability can be overwhelming at first, but if you approach as ‘bite-sized’ projects, it will all come together in the end. Lastly, always remember no matter how small, each project or new practice you put into place makes a positive impact for people, our ecosystems, and planet.
What’s next for you?
We are currently working towards our re-certification for Positive Luxury, and accreditation for Responsible Jewellery Council’s Code of Practices. This is a new area for me, but I like a challenge and know that working as a team we can achieve anything we put our minds too. I have been lucky to have the support of Stephen and our Managing Director, Kate Jarvis, and the guidance and advice of Diana Verde Nieto and Nina Timms from the Positive Luxury team, throughout my journey so far. I hope in the future to be able to share the knowledge acquired, to support smaller businesses on how to approach sustainability and positive practices.