When did you first realize you were interested in environmental issues?
In the early ’90s, Ray Anderson from Interface spoke at a small forum of designers at my alma mater, Mount Mary College in Milwaukee. After hearing him declare that he was “a plunderer of the earth” but had made a course correction through innovative, sustainable business solutions, I knew.
What attracted you to work in retail design?
The ability to connect with consumers on an emotional level like no other design genre and to shift buying habits and change brand loyalties through the power of storytelling – that’s very exciting stuff to me.
Name one lesson you learned working at Harley-Davidson that you still carry with you today.
Learning how to communicate the intangibles of design and never losing sight that innovation is paramount to any brand’s longevity.
In 10 words or less, what does “green retail” mean to you?
What’s one eco-minded trend you’re seeing that excites you?
More material manufacturers are designing and producing materials using a life-cycle methodology that enables a greater understanding of a product’s environmental impact.
Name one personal habit you’ve adjusted to “walk the walk.”
I research a manufacturer’s environmental and social practices before making purchases and buy something only if it’s made to last.
If you could spend 15 minutes talking to any person, living or dead, who would it be and why?
The architect Samuel Mockbee. His philosophy on design was democratic, inclusionary and beautiful.
What’s one hobby you have that would surprise most people?
I’m a terminal student.
Who inspires you?
Ray Anderson of Interface is my idea of a rock star. Janine Benyus, co-founder of the Biomimicry Guild, is a star of innovation.
What three words would your co-workers use to describe you?
Sincere. Passionate. Steadfast.
What’s your biggest self-indulgence?
The printed word. I hoard books – can’t read enough and love the ceremony of holding a book and reading for hours.
SIDEBAR: Russell’s Top 5 Reasons for Going Green
• Appeal to a growing, more discerning consumer demographic
• Operational efficiencies and reduction of overhead = $$ savings
• Tax incentives and energy rebates
• Connect to local communities by creating healthier places to eat and shop
• Brand differentiation and market growth