After a decade of success as textile-print designer, Nancy Mims co-founded, upholstery and wallpaper company Mod Green Pod, where she currently serves as creative director. With her keen sense of color and delightful preppy-gone-mod patterns, she quickly endeared herself to the growing green design scene that was hungry for hip designs in a world where few had yet been born. Based in Austin, Mod Green Pod's textiles are made from certified organic cotton and never use fabric protectors, color-fast agents, stain-resistant finishes, wrinkle-free agents, or fire retardants-which has won them coveted Global Organic Textile Standard, or GOTS status. Wallpapers, meanwhile, are one few residential options that are PVC-free. Mims's overarching mantra? A healthy home need not be a boring one-which comes as no surprise when you see her unique and cheery prints. Here she shares the story of her own green evolution.
How did you get into this line of work?
A textile-designer friend saw my doodles and suggested that I sell them as textile prints, so I did. I worked as a freelance print designer for about 8 years and sold more than 1,400 designs before starting Mod Green Pod.
What was your "a-ha" moment?
It was more of a conscience crescendo than a sudden "a-ha" that led to Mod Green Pod. I was increasingly frustrated by not having control over where my designs would end up. Seeing my designs on products (mostly apparel) was fun, but I worried about the path my designs took when they left my studio. Finally, I decided that I wanted total control over that path so I could put my designs on products that were safe and green throughout the process.
Who is your green hero?
Graham Hill. He has used the power of smart media to bring attention to the growing green movement and made TreeHugger the forum for all things green. He has guided unexpected audiences toward the green movement and has inspired countless people to change their ways. He has also championed small companies like mine who are working to do things the right way.
What is your ultimate green goal?
For Mod Green Pod to evolve into something that is larger, greener, makes people safer and happier, and helps motivate more manufacturers to go green.
What is your motivation?
On a basic scale, it is to manufacture beautiful, safe, green textiles. On a much larger scale, I'm motivated to bring greater change to the textile industry in the United States.
What is most important to you, ecologically speaking?
Like many of us in the reality-based world, I'm concerned about climate change, clean water for all, and the food supply. But I'm also concerned about microclimates in our homes, schools, and workplaces. We live among so many off-gassing toxins that have caused indoor air pollution to be much worse than the air outside.
What is the most challenging part of your job?
Working to educate some of the larger companies who are potential customers of ours about the benefits of organic cotton. Our individual customers get it-and I love that-but many bigger companies don't want to pay a tiny bit more for a product that is green, chemical-free, and completely made in the United States. I think it's shortsighted to focus on bottom line over quality, safety, and domestic production. Fortunately, more consumers are demanding organic, chemical-free textiles and home furnishings, as well as domestic production, so more companies are hearing the message.
What is the most rewarding?
I love it when happy customers let us know how much they love their Mod Green Pod upholstery or wallpaper. I love knowing when our customers find joy in our prints and colors and feel proud to have been a part of the process of creating one-of-a-kind furnishings.
Of the people you have worked with, who impresses you most?
I'm super impressed with our customers and how passionate so many of them are about organic cotton. So many people are willing to think about their purchases and to seek out products that aren't harmful. I love our customers!
What green thing do you do everyday?
I feed my family great meals made with organic and local ingredients as much as possible. I pack great lunches for my kids each day, in reusable containers with zero waste. I never think of it as a sacrifice, though, because good food is just so much yummier and I benefit from it, as well!
What do you wish you could do?
One of my goals is to help return the U.S. textile industry to its original glory, only green. When I see shuttered or struggling mills in the South, I try not to see the decline; I visualize an existing infrastructure and potential jobs in a booming industry that should lead the world in green and sustainable textiles. We can do it!
What is your biggest eco-sin?
If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be?
That all living beings have equal access to clean air, water, and food.
What is your best green advice?
Contemplate your actions more carefully—especially when consuming things; eventually, being green will become second nature.
Change Makers is series of interviews with people famous and obscure who are creating a more sustainable world through their work. Meet more Change Makers here.