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Natural Selection

Image of Eileen MockusEileen Mockus, CEO of the organic textile company Coyuchi, helps bring soft and eco-friendly fabrics to households and hotels worldwide.

 

For Eileen Mockus (M.B.A., ’99), CEO of organic textile company Coyuchi, a career in textile design didn’t happen by chance. “I grew up sewing and was always making clothing and accessories,” says the Santa Cruz native who still makes dresses for her 8-year-old daughter and strolls through the aisles of fabric stores for relaxation. “In high school, I had a job at a department store, and I really enjoyed working in fabric. There’s something about the beauty of it and the combination of art and science. There’s a creative side to it, but there’s also a very technical side.”


Mockus, who joined the Berkeley-based bed and bath linen company in 2011, (think nature-inspired, non-dyed goods like silk sateen sheets, heather flannel pajamas, beds made with reclaimed wood, and even muslin swaddling blankets approved with the most rigorous textile certification — Global Organic Certified Standard or GOTS) has a long history in the fabric and apparel industry with stints at notable companies like Patagonia and Esprit.

 

“While I was at The North Face, they launched their techwear line which was the predecessor to the brands Lululemon, Athleta and Lucy,” says Mockus. “And
it was an opportunity to shift what out-door sportswear was like. It had all of the pieces and parts of launching a start-up, but it’s basically launching a brand within a brand. It was a combination of these things that made me realize I needed a business background,” says Mockus who enrolled at SF State to pursue a Master’s of Science in Business Administration with a Small Business and Entrepreneurship emphasis.


“‘Business and the Environment’ with Professor (Murray) Silverman was terrific in terms of the mix of students in the class, the case studies and the debates you could get into on things like ‘how do you combine business and the environment?’”


After graduating in 1999, Mockus left the outdoor sportswear arena for home textiles at Pottery Barn, where she worked in product sourcing for 10 years for PB Kids and PB Teen. “I’m a product person first and foremost, and I wouldn’t want to work anywhere where I wasn’t drawn to the product,” says Mockus, who is on the board of the Sustainable Cotton Project and lives in Redwood City.


After two years on the job at Coyuchi, Mockus has clearly found her calling. “When you look at how you’re going to make something and be sensitive to the environment and to the people who make it, I like that extra meaning in what I do every day,” she says. “I love the experience of developing the brand, seeing that opportunity in the market and filling it. There isn’t much I don’t enjoy about what I’m doing right now.”

 

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