Women in Luxury: Interview with Diana Verde Nieto, Co-Founder of Positive Luxury

Diana Verde Nieto, co-founder and CEO of Positive Luxury. Photo courtesy of Positive Luxury

In this ongoing series, EAT LOVE SAVOR interviews women that are making a difference in the field of luxury across many categories and around the world, celebrating their leadership, innovation and the many positive changes they are making in the business of luxury. Luxury as a business is a vastly complex landscape, blending past and present with the needs of today and tomorrow. There are a great many people making great strides in ensuring it remains strong and relevant.

It gives us great pleasure to introduce you to a company making a big impact with the potential to make an even bigger ripple, a butterfly effect – Positive Luxury. Their mission is “Inspiring people to buy better and influencing brands to do better.”

 DIANA VERDE NIETO, CO-FOUNDER AND CEO, POSITIVE LUXURY

Diana Verde Nieto is the co-founder and CEO of Positive Luxury, the company behind the Butterfly Mark; a unique interactive trust mark awarded to luxury lifestyle brands in recognition of their commitment to having a positive impact on people and the planet, providing wordless reassurance that a brand can be trusted. Positive Luxury was founded in partnership with Karen Hanton MBE, founder of toptable.com. The two trailblazing entrepreneurs combined their experience and knowledge to use technology to demystify sustainability and positively communicate a brands’ action directly to the consumer.

Driven by Entrepreneurial Spirit and Innovation

Diana’s entrepreneurial spirit has driven innovations in the way that brands communicate on their commitment to social good and environmental responsibility, with companies seeing the true benefit of investing and incorporating responsible business practices into the companies’ DNA. This began with founding a sustainability communications consultancy, Clownfish, in 2002 which Diana built to international success, with a presence in 5 markets including China and USA at the time of exiting the business in 2008.

A Force for Good and Positive Change

Diana is a globally recognized figure in the sustainability field, having been trained by Al Gore at the Alliance of Climate Change in 2007 and subsequently being honoured by the World Economic Forum as a Young Global Leader in 2011, also serving as a board member for the World Economic Forum Young Global Leader community and sits on the Sustainable Development Goals Advisory Council. Diana is an advisor to the British Fashion Council, and the European Council of Conservation International.

EAT LOVE SAVOR’s founder, editor in chief and publisher Angela Tunner asked Ms. Verde Nieto some questions, taking you behind the mind and the brand.

INTERVIEW WITH DIANA VERDE NIETO

Tell us about your background and upbringing. Was there something that happened early on that shaped your future focus in caring for the planet?

I grew up in a dictatorship in Argentina, so I was aware of the need for human rights from an early age.

Originally, I wanted to become a human rights lawyer, but instead I decided to marry my business ambition with my dedication to sustainability. I believe business can and should be a force for good and aim to demonstrate that through communications.

How did you come to meet your co-founder Karen Hanton MBE, and begin to work together on your endeavour?

I have known Karen for many years and our expertise lies in different areas. Karen is a technology entrepreneur, founder of Top Table, whereas my expertise lie within the field of sustainability and communications.

Back in 2011, when we started Positive Luxury we both felt that marrying sustainability with technology will enable business to unlock the value of their sustainability investments and make a further business case for these efforts.

What inspired the founding of Positive Luxury?

What inspired me to start Positive Luxury is the fact that we need more information at the point-of-sale about the social good and environmental impact of brands.

People, particularly younger generations, really care about buying from brands that are making an effort to be sustainable, yet this information is often difficult to find or understand.

Through our Butterfly Mark we aim to make the positive actions of brands really accessible to consumers, so they can make educated decisions on the brands they buy from.

Diana Verde Nieto and Karen Hanton MBE. Photo courtesy of Positive Luxury

What were some of the challenges you encountered in getting Positive Luxury off the ground and gain traction?

Endless! You can’t start a business without coming across challenges. But in order to succeed and get anything off the ground, is how you decide to look at challenges and transform them into opportunities.

What motivates you and keeps your passion sparked?

I really would not want to turn eighty and still be talking about why business should be sustainable. I want sustainability to be adopted in the same way that technology has – it’s no longer something you think about, it’s a part of everyday life.

What does a brand interested in earning the butterfly mark have to do to qualify?

Brands must respond positively to a minimum of 80% of the questions to join the Positive Luxury community, along with providing supporting documents. The assessment is updated annually in line with changing nature of discussion, brands must reapply and be approved each year to ensure there is continued improvement.

What is your vision for Positive Luxury and where do you see it headed?

Our vision is to become the globally recognised trust mark for the luxury lifestyle industries. We want consumers to be able to see our Butterfly Mark on brand websites and luxury retailers across the world and know at a glance which brands they can trust are making efforts to improve their social and environmental footprint.

Diana Verde Nieto and Sir David Attenborough. Photo by Julian Hanford

Tell us a bit about the verification and acceptance process?

To earn this coveted trust mark, brands must pass a stringent assessment that examines sustainability from a holistic point of view, encompassing governance, social and environmental frameworks, philanthropy and innovation.

A few examples of the commitments in the assessment include; fair pay for both workers and suppliers, contributing to a charitable foundation and reducing carbon emissions.

What does the brand interested in earning the butterfly mark have to do to qualify?

Brands must respond positively to a minimum of 80% of the questions to join the Positive Luxury community, along with providing supporting documents. The assessment is updated annually in line with changing nature of discussion, brands must reapply and be approved each year to ensure there is continued improvement.

Why did you select a butterfly for your brand trust mark?

In 2010, I was privileged to present a Lifetime Achievement Award to David Attenborough. During the evening, he told me the fascinating story of the Large British Blue Butterfly. This species was extinct in Britain in 1979, yet has been brought back to the natural world and is known as the most successful insect reintroduction in the world.

It inspired me to consider how if we all work together we can create a butterfly effect and reverse the negative impact we are having on our planet.

For brands interested in raising their standards for improved environmental impact, where should they start making changes?

It really depends on the business. There is no quick fix solution and change doesn’t happen overnight. Companies, particularly global corporations, have a responsibility to their employees, shareholders and stakeholders at large, they cannot just shut up shop and start again. They must innovate and with time can pivot their business towards a more sustainable outlook.

In your view, how can we go about changing the mindset that sustainability is not ‘sexy’?

Sustainability has often had negative associations, but we’re really seeing a new wave of businesses that offer beautiful, quality products that marry desirability with sustainable credentials.

There is also a changing mindset among consumers, particularly among younger generations. Sustainability is now seen as aspirational, as people want to live a more positive life and be proud of what they buy.

Do you think the collective over focus on consumerism played a role in the altered thinking on the importance of sustainability?

Research shows that people are more aware of what they buy and are looking to associate themselves with products and brands that share their values. Many people will even boycott brands that they think are not demonstrating a commitment to social or environmental good.

This reinforces the Positive Luxury mission, as mindful consumption becomes more mainstream we will see a rise in demand for transparency so people know which brands they can trust.

If you could choose other words than ‘eco’ and ‘sustainable’ that was not dependent on a being a marketing catchphrase, what would they be?

It’s in our name! We like to focus on being positive, always.

Responsible and purpose-led are also words to look out for – they tally with our belief in business being a force for good.

What do you wish people knew about Positive Luxury?

That our community of #brandstotrust is constantly growing. We have a wide range of brands who have earned our Butterfly Mark – from global businesses to emerging designers. You can keep up to date with our latest updates via our weekly newsletter – sign up here

What do you wish consumers knew about sustainability?

The power they have to influence brands to do better. If consumers choose to buy from companies that care, then brands will have to follow. Together we can create change.

What do you wish brands knew about sustainability?

That today it is imperative to have sustainability as part of your business strategy and product innovation. As the population grows and natural resources are depleted faster every year, the cost of production will rise and therefore sustainable innovation and business models will be essential for brands to survive.


Positive Luxury works with best in class brands that care across the following categories: Travel & Hospitality, Fashion & Accessories, Jewellery & Watches, Beauty, Premium Drinks and Living.

Follow the butterfly to discover our community of brands to trust.

If you see the Butterfly Mark anywhere online, click or tap to uncover each brand’s Positive Actions. These give a full breakdown of a brand’s efforts and achievements as verified by Positive Luxury.

For more information about Positive Luxury visit https://www.positiveluxury.com/