With an ambitious carbon neutral target just months away, home goods brand Parachute is giving itself an ethical, sustainable makeover.
When Parachute founder and CEO Ariel Kaye quit her job to fill a gap in the home goods market in 2014, she knew there was a direct-to-consumer demand. Something else she knew: consumers want better products. Now she knows something else, too: consumers want better businesses.
That vision has seen her company explode, first with online sales, now with 12—soon to be 30—retail locations for the LA-based home goods and bedding brand.
The home sanctuary
Covid has punctuated the need to make our homes sanctuaries. It’s been a boon to Parachute. “Our homes are working on overdrive,” Kaye said in a recent interview. “So many people are redecorating. We are spending more time at home than ever. And I think people are really thinking about how they can invest into creating a more comfortable home, a room that is more purposeful and intentional in the way that they need to spend their time,” she said.
It’s why Parachute is seeing such a high repeat customer rate; Kaye understands home goods and what consumers want.
“We’ve been really committed to investing in our products and making sure that they truly are the highest quality on the market,” and, she says, it’s paid off. “Our customers keep coming back. We’ve got a 90 percent repeat rate over three years, which is impressive. And it’s something that I’m very proud of. So we’re going to keep doing what we do and build a really big business.”
With such customer loyalty, the company has announced a list of “actionable goals” aimed at supporting its employees, partners, customers, and the planet.
“At Parachute, we have always put a focus on sustainability, and we take pride in offering premium quality, long-lasting and responsibly-made products that our customers can feel good about,” Kaye said in a recent statement.
According to the modern lifestyle brand, this new focus is on four key pillars Climate and Earth, Responsible Materials, Ethical Manufacturing, and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.
Chief among the new action items, Parachute has set a bold climate deadline: to become certified carbon neutral by Earth Day (April 22), 2022. This will happen by measuring and offsetting the company’s entire footprint via verified carbon credits.
Although it says it sources down feathers that are certified through the Responsible Down Standard, Parachute says it’s launching a circular program that will reduce the amount of new down feathers needed. Down feathers are a byproduct of factory farming, one of the biggest climate offenders. The practice also brings up ethical concerns.
According to the Audubon Society, the vast majority of the 270,000 metric tons of commercial down produced each year “is a byproduct of goose and duck meat industries in Asia and Europe, where the birds might be live-plucked or force-fed for foie gras before heading to the slaughterhouse. Animal welfare advocates consider these cruel practices that they want to see eliminated from down’s complex supply chain.”
Down is still a coveted material for its insulating properties and softness. But a growing number of brands are phasing out new down, using recycled down instead because of the ethical and environmental issues.
“One way that brands are dealing with the ethical issues related to down is by using a growing amount of recycled feathers,” the Audubon Society notes. It points to companies like Re:Down, which treats recycled down from bedding for use in new comforters and cushions. And Patagonia has committed to using 80 percent recycled down in its products.
Under the banner of Parachute’s new down program the Recycled Down Pillow will use sanitized down from returned Parachute pillows. The pillow shells will be made of recycled cotton.
This builds on Parachute’s responsible materials ethos. It’s working to improve the sustainability of its supply chain by sourcing sustainable cotton that’s free from harmful pesticides, chemicals, and residues, as verified through GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard). It’s also working with OEKO-TEX certification to verify its core products are all free from high levels of the top 100 most harmful textile substances.
Kaye says the textile source, not the thread count, is the most important quality criteria.
“There’s a lot of marketing gimmicks when it comes to thread count,” she says.
“So do not think that the higher the thread count, the better the quality. Really focus on the quality of fibers. Look for things like Oeko-Tex, which means that there’s no toxic chemicals or artificial dyes.
“But really, you want the purest fibers. So all of our fabrics are made from 100 percent long staple Egyptian cotton. We really focus on thinking about where we’re getting the products, the finest fibers, and making sure that that becomes really a beautiful product that will be long lasting and timeless and make you feel very comfortable at home.”
Parachute says it’s also launching its first Fair Trade Certified products this year, with expansion plans for 2023. Fair Trade certified means products support social, environmental, and economic standards. Parachute’s GOTS certified products will also meet International Labor Organisation standards, United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs), and Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). It will also ensure that its wood is sustainably sourced through the Forest Stewardship Council.
The company says it will also establish programs that support and enable diverse talent across all areas of its business. One of the initiatives, Home for Dreams, offers mentorships, grants, and support for Black-owned businesses.
For Kaye, all of that is what makes Parachute a brand in it for the long haul.
“We know there is a lot of work ahead of us,” Kaye said, “but we believe in doing our part to help create a sustainable future for our industry.”