The Power Thread caught up with Olivia Gossett Cooper, a copywriter turned sustainable product designer, to talk about integrating simple sustainability into other’s lives and the most beautiful fork I’ve ever seen, Silvr.
Where did you get your start after college?
I started as a copywriter in advertising and digital marketing. I did that for about seven years. I’ve always loved writing. In college, I did internships with the local newspaper, and I really loved being involved with the local community. I went to the College of Charleston, which is part of the downtown community of Charleston. It’s not an isolated campus; it’s right in the middle of everything. It’s very easy to get involved locally while still in school. As social and digital media became more present, copywriting became a whole process of editing text for Twitter, editing videos for YouTube, etc. and so I learned a lot while doing internships in that sphere.
“Very few people have a straight path. It’s great. It means you have so much to bring to everything you’re doing.”
How did your time in copywriting lead you to this passion, and ultimately job, in sustainability?
During my seven years as a copywriter, I started getting more and more passionate about animal rights and environmentalism, and I aligned myself as much as I could within those jobs with those values. I refused to work on any brands that tested on animals, for example. I was really lucky that the agency I landed at supported that. At the same time, I was working for a razor company getting people to buy thousands of disposable razors, while on my Instagram I was telling people to do the opposite. I started to go looking for jobs that really aligned with my values. A lot of them required some sustainability experience, so I decided to quit my job and go back to school to get an MBA in sustainability at Bard. I went all in, full time for two years. I decided to do an MBA degree because I really believe business and consumerism will have the biggest impact on sustainability. The science behind sustainability is so important, but we’ve seen people not listening to scientists. It’s crazy to say, but that’s our reality.
What prompted you to start your newsletter, Today We Will?
While I was doing the MBA program, I started the newsletter. I was changing my daily habits to be more sustainable, and it really is those little changes that will make a huge difference. I wanted to share with other people who wanted to get into sustainability these little daily habits that can make a big difference. For example, getting water with no ice and actively asking for no refills. So, every weekday, the newsletter shares the sustainability tip of the day and why it’s important and how to do it. It’s been an amazing learning experience for myself and, as long as people keep opening the email, I’ll keep doing it. I also wanted to help create more inclusivity in sustainability. There’re so many high end products that the majority of people can’t afford, and I didn’t want this huge part of society to be overlooked, so these tips are very manageable ways for everyone to do their part. It’s never about spending money, it’s about daily habits.
Now to Silvr, your gorgeous fork. When did this idea come about?
Combining Today We Will and the MBA, I got a huge look at what I could do professionally. It led me to work on what I’m doing today, which is jumping the hurdle of people thinking it wasn’t easy to act sustainably or that sustainable products weren’t desirable. For example, before the Swell bottle, using a reusable water bottle wasn’t as desirable. They were for campers and hikers. Then, suddenly, it became an accessory. It got people to use reusable water bottles instead of plastic ones. While working for a department store on their sustainable supply chain, I saw so many people in their fashion office carrying a reusable water bottle, but still using a plastic fork, so I got to work making a small, cute, compact utensil, something you can put in your purse or leave in your desk at work. So, my last year of my MBA I worked on that and ended up making it a real thing, and it became Silvr (Silvrinc.com). It launched as wholesale, and I’m preparing for an online launch during the fall. Our mission is to make the sustainable lifestyle a beautiful one. There’s so much our mission can apply to, and I want to be as inclusive as possible, so hopefully this is the beginning of more.
As a woman, as a sustainable creator, what makes you feel powerful, and what keeps you going?
I had my first child recently, and that’s the first thing to come to mind now. He’s the reason to try to create a better, more sustainable future, and also the community that’s formed around women and sustainability. Thanks to communities like the Power Thread, it really does make a huge difference in motivation to keep going. I’m empowered by seeing other women be empowered. Just to be a part of that community is hugely motivating and hugely empowering.