THE BLOG

Women in Business Q&A with Eileen Mockus, CEO of Coyuchi

02/28/2014 04:22 am ET | Updated Apr 29, 2014

Eileen Mockus is the CEO of Coyuchi, a company that sells organic home textiles. Eileen served as the Director of Global Sourcing for Pottery Barn Kids and PB Teen during the start-up and expansion of both brands. Prior to that she worked at Patagonia and The North Face.

How has your life experience made you the leader you are today?
I am the youngest of 8 children so I learned at an early age how to work with others. Everything in business is a collaboration so being able to work with others, understand their differences, and gain consensus is part of managing group dynamic.

How has your previous employment experience aided your position as the CEO of Coyuchi?
I've worked in textiles my entire career and it's truly what I love. I have worked in many different parts of the business, from retail sales to QA and lots of years in product development. Working in many parts of the industry has helped me to see all different aspects of the business.

I was fortunate to be at a couple of companies, both The North Face and Williams-Sonoma, when new businesses were launched. At The North Face, I worked on their Tekware line which was the first introduction of performance fabrics into sportswear. While with Wiliams-Sonoma, I worked at Pottery Barn Kids and PB Teen during their first years of the brand. The challenges of sorting out how the brand would succeed is what interests me, and what I can bring to my current role.

How do you maintain a work/life balance?
Balance is something to strive for but rarely achieved on daily basis. It's very difficult to feel like all bases are covered every day so I look at it weekly. It takes a lot of planning and there is the unfortunate reality that I don't always make it to everything.

My husband is very involved with our children and he does all the cooking, so I am very lucky to have a great partner. He and I both share what we are working on with our family and they know that we both enjoy what we do. Our children will be adults in the future and they'll work too, so we'd like to pass on a positive attitude about finding work that you enjoy.

One of the reasons I was drawn to Coyuchi was the unique product and our use of organic cotton, natural fibers and GOTS certified manufacturing that uses the best practices environmentally and socially in textile manufacturing. I do tend to work long hours and that's easier for me to do when my personal values match up with the business. Working at Coyuchi, my children have the benefit of hearing me talk about organic farming, water usage in making textiles and running a business. While I may not be at everything with my family, my kids will benefit from the work Coyuchi does today as more companies realize it is possible to make home textiles in a better way.

What have the highlights and challenges been during your tenure at Coyuchi?
I've been in my current role at Coyuchi for a few months. Re-vamping the brand and protecting the ideals of the company, with a change in management.

What advice can you offer individuals who are seeking a career in the design industry?
Take risks and try different roles. Learn how products are made so you can figure out how to do it differently. Great designs challenge the status quo and sometimes it takes a seemingly crazy idea to create something new.

What do you think is the biggest issue for women in the workplace?
I've been fortunate to work for many businesses that had very strong women in leadership roles. Yet there are plenty of double standards in the workplace around how men and women are viewed.

What are your thoughts on Sheryl Sandberg's Lean In book and movement?
She has brought a lot of much needed attention to how women look at work differently and where, generally speaking, women sell themselves short. Her willingness to share her experience gives other women more confidence to advocate for themselves and get more satisfaction out of their work.

How has mentorship made a difference in your professional and personal life?
I've never had a mentor, professionally or personally.

Which other female leaders do you admire and why?
There are many women I admire, most of them are former colleagues, co-workers and friends. My first job out of college was at Patagonia. The number of female leaders in that company at that time formed my point of view about women in the workplace in a way that still sticks with me today.

What are your hopes for the future of Coyuchi?
I'd like to see Coyuchi become a market leader for great design using natural materials. Coyuchi has always worked with organic cotton and we firmly believe that is the best growing option for cotton fiber. Providing organic cotton to a broader range of customers who also look for great design is what really allows the brand to stand apart.