By Mayshad Mag
Mayshad Magazine is an advocacy platform for empowerment which mainly focuses on empowering women, raising awareness and exploring a contemporary lifestyle.
Charney Magri, Partner of Do Epic Good – the sustainability arm of the Do Epic Sh*t conglomerate. Do Epic Sh*t is a boutique content creation agency focused on working with companies and brands who really want to shift the needle in the industry, creating impactful, effective and meaningful work that delivers results for our clients and their brands. Do Epic Good focuses across the board on all brands and companies striving to make change and use their position of power as a force for good. Charney has been in the fashion industry for over 20 years. Realizing the wasteful effects mass consumerism has imposed on the industry, and our planet she is on a mission with her latest project, Catwalk to Creation, to highlight—artfully—what goes on from the conception of a garment to its appearance on the runway. We are so grateful to have learned some eye-opening facts from Charney to take into our own sustainable fashion choices. Read on to find out what empowers and motivates this creative, fashion industry entrepreneur and to gain a little enlightenment of your own.
MM: Hello Charney! Please, tell us a little bit about yourself and your background.
CM: I’m a photographer by profession. I’ve been in the industry for over 20 years. About five years ago, I hit my own moral crossroad and realized there was a disconnect between my career and me. I decided I needed to merge my passion projects with my commercial work, which is where I am at now.
Over the last two decades I’ve intuitively focused my passion projects in areas such as sustainability, diversity & inclusion, mental health and human rights to name but some so when I finally decided to converge all of these together, it was a very natural and almost obvious process.
The docuseries Catwalk to Creation is the journey of two sustainable garments, in reverse. I co-directed and co-produced the series with my creative partner Ramzi Moutran.
Each series is approximately 15 minutes long and are bite-size chunks of information that allow you to understand what is happening behind the scenes of some of the campaigns Ramzi and I have spent most of our careers shooting! It gives a really incredible insight into what’s happening into an otherwise unknown world.
Part 1 follows the journey of a wool garment, talking about natural and synthetic fibers. It’s a huge topic right now given 1/3 of the worlds plastic problem is coming from the fashion industry!! Part 2 talks about viscose and next-gen solutions.
The idea behind the series is to get this into everyday living rooms to raise awareness and encourage people to want to know more, to want to ask questions. If we could wave a magic wand, we would be commissioned by Netflix and Amazon’s of the world to continue this extremely important conversation. It is only through us understanding what is happening behind the scenes and realizing that it is just not good enough will there be a need, and want, for change. Without this transparency, there will be no accountability, no dialogue between consumers/brands/ legislation and therefore no change. We need to be educated to be empowered and Catwalk to Creation educates us all, to understand more about the supply chain.
MM: From your perspective, what is that change that you wish to accomplish?
CM: The first and foremost is to raise awareness. There are a lot of both environmental and human rights issues in fashion. Part 1 & 2 deal more on environmental issues.
There are 150 billion trees that are knocked down every year for fashion. It’s estimated that this number is going to double in the next 10 years. A lot of the trees that we’re knocking down to make clothing are from ancient and endangered forests, so we’re looking at orangutans, tigers, elephants, all different types of wildlife that are losing their homes because of the fashion industry.
When we purchase these items of clothing quite often they’re only being worn once and are then disposed of. In 2014 the average consumer bought 60% more clothing than in 2000 but kept it half as long. This throwaway culture is having a devastating effect on our planet and is creating havoc in our waters, putting extreme amounts of pressure on our vital resources, our food chain is being affected, rising carbon emissions, not to mention the animals we co-habit with on our planet or the mental health issues around the ‘buy buy buy’ phenomena. It’s completely unsustainable and it’s a direction we cannot keep going towards.
Take a cotton t-shirt for example. It takes twenty-nine ten-minute showers to make one shirt. Now think about all the t-shirts that people buy and [waste] and how much water this is consuming, it’s only a matter of time that we are going to deplete our earth of natural resources that we just don’t have. You only have to look at the Aral Sea crisis to realize this is actually already started to happen as opposed to a scientific prediction.
One of the areas we really focus on in part 1 is plastic microfibers: 83% of all of our waters—tap water, rainwater, bottled water, oceans—everything, has plastic microfibers. In places like New York, it’s 94%. A third of this is coming from the fashion industry!!
There are some serious problems. BUT there are some amazing solutions out there! However, these solutions are not well known yet and haven’t got the same ‘supply and demand’ as the majority of the fiber being produced because there isn’t any awareness. This is where Catwalk to Creation comes in and the change we wish, and are, accomplishing.
Awareness is key, that’s first and foremost, and then once awareness starts to happen, you have traceability and accountability. Once we have accountability, this is where we will start to see the real change happen.
MM: That is a huge inspiration. Tell us, what are your greatest motivations and what have been some of the obstacles?
CM: Because I’ve been in the [fashion] industry for such a long time, I’ve been a part of “fueling the industry” in terms of making aspirational content, whether that’s through photo shoots or film, I’ve been a part of that. At some point in your life, each one of us sits up and says okay it’s time to give back or take responsibility where you can. In my case, I did both, realized my purpose and this became my motivation.
I’m a true believer in using your medium as a vehicle for positive change. I think each one of us has an opportunity to do that.
In terms of obstacles, there’s always plenty. When you’re in an industry and you’re a leader paving the way, you’re always going to come up against obstacles and people that are non-believers. But when you truly believe in something, it doesn’t matter what anyone else says. In fact, this just becomes your fuel! Perseverance is the only thing [that matters].
MM: When you think of an empowered human being, what do you see?
CM: They are educated, motivated, courageous, have been challenged over and over but never given up and are resilient. These qualities to me are how I view an empowered human being and they’re the ones who succeed.
MM: What project or accomplishment do you consider being the most empowering thing you’ve done?
CM: Everything I do [now] is all about empowerment at some level either for the brands and companies I work with, how we steer Do Epic Sh*t and watch it grow or even just a small achievement for myself for the day. All of these accomplishments, large or small, and are worthy of being recognized.
If I look back I would say publishing my In 2012, Women of the UAE, was a huge accomplishment. WotUAE is a cross-cultural communication tool to help dispel the myth of the Emirati and expatriate women in the UAE.
There were too many obstacles to name here by 22 months out of the 24 months I worked on it I could have given up! That’s a small indication to the level of obstacles I encountered. But the point is, I didn’t give up. To add volume, Hillary Clinton has recognized my book and the UN Women & the Australian Embassy in Abu Dhabi use it as state gifts. Needless to say, it was definitely worth following through.
In September 2018, I was at the UN General Assembly moderating a panel. I interviewed two incredible women, who were paving the way, and have broken down stereotypes as leaders, ambassadors, and creators. I also screened Catwalk to Creation’s social film for 4 days. This was a hugely empowering moment; to be using my voice and my medium as a vehicle for positive change while representing Do Epic Sh*t, Catwalk to Creation and everything I believe in. This to me is the epitome of being a force for good and is everything I stand for in my agency.
MM: We’d like to ask you about your personal routine; what are the daily details that keep you focused?
CM: Well, I have two children who keep me very focused, very centered, and very grounded (laughing). Exercise, yoga, meditation and a very healthy lifestyle are all key elements to keeping focused.
It also helps to have a very clear vision of where we are steering Do Epic Sh*t with my partners and the Founder, Ramzi Moutran. Everyone who is in our team must be passionate from the DNA upwards and truly believe in what we are building. This type of energy is contagious.
MM: What are your hopes for the planet?
CM: I’ve got so many it’s hard to narrow down to one! But if I look at this just from a Do Epic Good perspective: my hope is that brands and companies use their position of power to create positive change and stand up for what they really believe in.
MM: How would companies go about making that change?
CM: Come and talk to me!
MM: Lastly, would you share a few words of advice with our audience on how to initiate their dreams?
CM: You know the saying, “The hardest part about going for a run is putting on your trainers.”? You’ve just got to do it. When you know what you want, that’s all you need to do. The rest will follow.
To follow Charney go to @charneymagri @doepicsh_t @doepicgood
And to see the docuseries please click here:
Social film: https://vimeo.com/295783369
Part 1: https://vimeo.com/309073082
Part 2: https://vimeo.com/330405737