Lisa Cassidy

Lisa Cassidy wants to change consumers’ mindset. It’s been a thread of her career since her first job out of college.

“I’ve always been looking for purpose,” Cassidy says. “I’ve always had this pragmatic idea of, ‘If something could be recycled, why wouldn’t you just do it? If something could be done to reuse this material, why wouldn’t we try that?’”

She first explored this concept while working in conservation for what’s now New England’s largest energy provider, Eversource, before transitioning into a marketing role at PW Power Systems, a company that delivers power to industrialized and developing countries. She later founded a consulting firm focused on developing digital marketing campaigns that promoted green companies, products, and initiatives, before launching in early 2019 an eco-friendly brand of her own—an online boutique called ecoimagine.

“I initially wanted to take my consulting to another level and incorporate a sustainable message,” Cassidy says. “But I was determined to build something of my own. Something that I could take as far as I wanted it to go.”

Her realization came after completing Harvard Business School Online’s Sustainable Business Strategy course. She enrolled with the goal of learning how to communicate the advantages of being purpose-driven to her clients. She instead applied those lessons to her own company.

“The class gave me the nudge I needed to say, ‘You can do this.’” Cassidy explains. “I don’t think I would have gotten there so quickly if I wasn’t asked point-blank at the end of the course, ‘Now what are you going to do with what you learned?’”

Around the same time, Cassidy attended a marketing conference where she heard from Tobias Lütke, CEO and co-founder of e-commerce platform Shopify. In his presentation, Lütke shared the idea of commerce as your vote, explaining that consumers’ purchasing habits determine which products will succeed and which will fail.

Sustainable Business Strategy

“The Sustainable Business Strategy course and the timing of the conference were the two most pivotal points in my decision to launch the company,” Cassidy says.

Cassidy is now hoping consumers will give ecoimagine their vote. The online boutique sells high-quality products made of recycled, repurposed, or biodegradable materials, including leggings made from recycled plastic, totes crafted from repurposed vinyl advertising banners, and bracelets constructed from recycled flip flops and cork (all photographed below). Each is crafted by a small business that incorporates sustainable practices into their operations, from offering fair wages to employing waste reduction strategies.

The idea of ecoimagine sparked after seeing how discouraged some were getting with the recycling processes in the United States. By showing that recycled materials can be used to create high-quality products, Cassidy hopes to renew consumers’ faith.

“I want people to know that eco products can be beautiful, luxurious, and affordable, and are worth fighting for,” Cassidy says. “Before we launched, we spent months seeking out high-quality products people would love even if they didn’t know they were made of recycled materials.”

Before shoppers buy something, Cassidy wants them to ask, “Who makes this, how did they make it, and what is it made of?” instead of the usual, “Is this convenient, and the right price?” Although understandable, Cassidy says that’s a short-term mentality—and one that she’s committed to change.

ecoimagine products

“I want ecoimagine to change people’s mindset on why recycling and working with sustainable businesses is important,” Cassidy explains. “Back when I worked in conservation, the goal wasn’t to get consumers to buy energy-efficient lightbulbs just because we subsidized them, but because they believed in saving energy. The same goes for recycled and repurposed products. We want people to choose them because they believe there is value.”

To help further her message, Cassidy is opening a brick and mortar store later this month in downtown Lexington, Massachusetts, so that people can experience the quality of her products firsthand. It’s a milestone she didn’t think she could hit so soon, but is one she hopes will take ecoimagine to the next level.

“People love the story behind eco products,” Cassidy says. “The passion we have for sharing these stories is obvious and contagious.”

Although the road to launching ecoimagine hasn’t always been easy, the company’s mission has kept Cassidy going.

“Make something you believe in the priority,” Cassidy says. “If you really love and believe in your mission, it shows, and it’s something you’ll feel is worth fighting for.”

Thanks to ecoimagine, consumers will now have products they can believe in, too.

Are you interested in starting or growing your own business? Explore our online courses designed to help you take the next step in your entrepreneurial journey.

Lauren Landry

About the Author

Lauren Landry is the associate director of marketing and communications for Harvard Business School Online. Prior to joining HBS Online, she worked at Northeastern University and BostInno, where she wrote nearly 3,500 articles covering early-stage tech and education—including the very launch of HBS Online. When she's not at HBS Online, you might find her teaching a course on digital media at Emerson College, chugging coffee, or telling anyone who's willing to listen terribly corny jokes.