Victoria Malios’ work has had an undercurrent of sustainability for over seven years: She wrote her thesis on the “Privatization of the Water Industry in Manila” with a focus on Corporate Social Responsibility, and CSR is central to her work for Spread Group.
Today, the experienced community manager is pushing towards Spreadshop‘s sustainability goals. A native of Leipzig with Cypriot roots, she is responsible for community management of the European market. One of Victoria’s responsibilities is to translate the brand’s “go green” milestones into multimedia content.
Spread Group: How do you personally define sustainability?
Victoria Malios: Sustainability is a very broad term. I define it as the art of creating the optimal balance between human needs and scarce resources in an environmentally and socially responsible way. Currently, the scales are tipped too far to one side: We consume as if we had two or three Earths to sustain us. Lockdown has made it clear how important regeneration phases are for nature: for example, at the beginning of the year, dolphins were once again swimming in the lagoons of Venice. This is an important and positive sign to all of us.
Spread Group: What motivates you to live a more sustainable lifestyle?
Victoria Malios: The certainty that we will not be able to avoid a dramatic change in our behavior for much longer. If our goal is to motivate as many people as possible to become more sustainable, then I think the communication we see on social media is too biased. Of course it’s easier to criticize others instead of questioning oneself. I would like to see us become more open and tolerant in this regard. The core message must be that living more sustainably is not about doing without, but rather enriching your life and the lives of those around you. We often completely ignore the fact that we have the power to directly improve the lives of workers on the other side of the world just through our consumer behavior.
Spread Group: What sustainability projects have you and your team already implemented?
Victoria Malios: We support Spread Group’s sustainability goals 100 percent and are part of the internal initiative that drives actions such as plastic-free packaging or climate-neutral shipping. We at Spreadshop have had good experiences with DHL Go Green, among others. Making the supply chains more climate-friendly, from the manufacturing sites of our unprinted goods to our five production sites, is an enormous undertaking.
At Spread Group, we define sustainability as Corporate Social Responsibility. This model includes not only environmental sustainability, but also socio-economic responsibilities. One of the main pillars of CSR is social responsibility, which is a particular focal point for us: Our goal is to enable individuals to make a living through their design work. We want to make entrepreneurship as easy as possible. That’s why we give our Shop Owners the opportunity to sell custom T-shirts, hoodies, etc. through our platform without having to bear the brunt of pre-production or warehousing costs. All the behind-the-scenes tasks such as the garment production, shipping, payment processing and customer service are handled by us. Our Shop partners only need their PC or laptop, internet access and a good design idea to open their own Shop.
Our responsibility towards the Shop Owners we work with doesn’t end there. We want to invest in their education and improve the longevity of their business. Some examples of how we support our Shop Owners are our Design Service and Spreadshirt Toolbox. When it’s time for our Shop Owners to polish their design, our professional Design Service is there to support them. We are currently working on offering the free online academy called the “Spreadshop Toolbox” for our Shop Owners. We will shoot short video tutorials and explain how they can use free tools to further develop and vary their designs. With the academy, we want to create many “aha!” moments and new inspiration for our community.
Spread Group: What specific sustainability goals have you set for yourselves?
Victoria Malios: Here at Spreadshop, we would definitely like to work on the visibility of our certificates and seals, such as Oeko-Tex Standard 100, FWF or BSCI. Currently, the certificates are still too hidden in the product description. We are also in close contact with many of our sustainable or charitable Shop Owners, such as Pink Ribbon, Beach Cleaner or the Earth Day Network, and are constantly expanding our organic product range based on their ideas. Our next product will be a baseball cap made of 100 percent organic cotton. We always announce new products on our blog – it’s worth a look.
Spread Group: What do you recommend to all readers who would like to further explore the topic of “sustainability”?
Victoria Malios: My main source of inspiration is of course social media. Bloggers and activists, for example DariaDaria and Luisa Neubauer, always show me new perspectives through their posts. Lesser-known might be the podcast “Don’t waste, be happy”, which I highly recommend.
Spread Group: Thank you so much for the interview, Victoria.