We recently spent a glorious morning with Hannah, Managing Director of wellbeing brand RAIN
and co-founder of The Now Work platform
. We drank coffee in her beautiful East London home and chatted about how she found her way into the world of sustainability.
What made you decide you wanted to work in sustainability?
Prior to working in sustainability, I was in marketing and advertising across fashion and beauty. It all just felt really wasteful and coercive. It was really about making people feel bad about themselves in order to get them to buy things in order to feel like they belong. But I loved the creativity and expression of it so wanted to explore how to use the power of communications for something more purposeful. I ended up finding a Master’s program specifically looking at how to use creativity and design thinking to tackle social and environmental issues. That helped me to pivot my career towards sustainability and ever since a huge focus of my career has been in looking at the role of communications in building a sustainable future for all.
Tell us a bit about the work/projects you’re involved with at the moment.
I’m one of the co-founders of The Now Work and we’re the flexible talent platform for sustainability. We match incredible world-changing people who have the skills and experience to help organisations make a positive impact, with opportunities to do world-changing work within a range of organisations from NGOs to big corporates. We have almost 500 amazing people on our platform who are really at the cutting edge of sustainability and impact work. Overall at The Now Work
we’re really fascinated by how we organise ourselves to do impactful work and are looking to support ways of working that enable people to thrive whilst also creating more impactful solutions.
I’m also the Managing Director at RAIN
which is a wellbeing brand creating plant based products to optimise your body and mind. We’re interested in shifting how we live to be better optimised for how we are designed as humans, tapping into the magic of natural ingredients to do so.
What specific qualities are needed by innovators and people working in the field of sustainability?
A common thread that I see is the belief that things can be better. People who work in sustainability are not interested in maintaining the status quo and accepting that this is just how things are done. They see possibility and opportunity for improvement and to envision what that better future looks like. Now that sustainability is business critical, it’s becoming a part of everyone’s jobs, not just sustainability teams so it is more about a mindset than a specific skill set.
When you talk about “inflammation-causing cultural norms” what does that mean and how can we all practise new ways of living?
Inflammation is a response to stress to protect our bodies. It is a very helpful response to acute stress like when we injure ourselves, but our modern lives often cause chronic stress which leads to chronic inflammation. We’re in constant flight or fight, whether it’s triggered from an email from a toxic colleague or from the constant news alerts about a range of crises, our nervous systems are exhausted.
In addition our culture tends to value stress as a sign of success - hustle, grind, and girl bossing is all about pushing yourself beyond your limits. These norms are causing us to operate more like machines than like human beings and our bodies are not designed to do this. And with inflammation being a major cause of disease, we need to address these cultural norms so that we can live and work in a way that is better aligned with how we are designed to operate as humans on a planet.
A great way to start is just paying more attention to what your body is telling you. What are you doing when you feel grounded and connected to your body? When are you feeling tense and ignoring your body? When we start working with our bodies and how we are designed rather than working against them, we can approach our work from a much more present and creative place, rather than from a place of survival.
In your opinion, what are the main things we can all do to lead more sustainable lives?
I think the best things you can do are just to be more mindful of the things and the content you consume. When buying things, really question if you need it and if you do, could you rent it or get it secondhand? And for content, do the people you follow, the shows you watch, the podcasts you listen to make you want to buy stuff needlessly or are they helping you connect to your authenticity?
There are of course the checklist of things you can do - change to a renewable energy supplier, move your money, investments, and pension to clean funds, fly less, etc. Which are of course all great things to do and there are great lists out there of specific actions. You can also see how you can get involved in your company’s sustainability efforts and see how you could help to drive change there. Living a sustainable life in an unsustainable world is impossible, so yes take action at home but also see if there are opportunities for you to make an impact on bigger scales too.
Which unsustainable behaviour are you most embarrassed about?!
I love travelling so flying is the unsustainable behaviour I proactively participate in. I am also from Canada and my family is there so I have to fly to see them. But hopefully I make up for this in other positively impactful ways!
Thanks for having us over! What made you decide to take part in the shoot?
I think growing up in the 90s and also starting my career in fashion and beauty marketing and only seeing one type of body presented really just made me feel bad about myself and that I wasn’t enough. Seeing this shift over the past few years and having so many types of people be visible in campaigns has been amazing in helping people feel seen and represented. This shoot feels like a small way that I can be a part of that.
Born: Vancouver, Canada
Lives: London, UK
Education: BBA in Strategic Design and Management from Parsons The New School of Design and MBA in Design for Social Innovation from the School of Visual Arts
Career: Varied! Fashion → advertising → sustainability consulting → start-ups → entrepreneurship across sustainability and wellness
Likes: Matcha, Pilates, chocolate, puppies, travel, family and friends