thinkPARALLAX spotlight: Derek Sabori

October 4, 2023

thinkPARALLAX spotlight: Derek Sabori

Name: Derek Sabori

Title: Sr. Director, Communications

Current residence: Costa Mesa, CA

Hometown: Born on Cannon Air Force Base in New Mexico, I grew up in the Anaheim/Yorba Linda area, and moved to Costa Mesa/Newport Beach the summer I graduated from high school so I could be closer to the beach, and to UC Irvine. I’ve been here ever since.

Fun fact: I’m the current President of the UC Irvine Alumni Association; Zot! Zot!

Tell us about your background. How did you end up at tPX?

I first pivoted to a sustainability-focused career while at the brand Volcom, in 2006. Volcom had an employee “eco-club”, and during a lunch & learn event we watched “An Inconvenient Truth.” I knew right then that’s where my career was headed. I eventually became the company’s VP of Global Sustainability. After 19 years at Volcom, I went out on my own to consult and teach, and for marketing purposes (in 2017) I started a podcast, The Underswell.  

Sometime in 2018, I think at a Sustainable Brands event, Jonathan Hanwit and I crossed paths. Some time later an email intro from a mutual friend (Mark Marovich at FlipGive) connected us. Within a few months of that intro, Jonathan was at my house recording an interview for the podcast. 

We occasionally stayed in touch and in fact, I had him on the podcast (now called Good Things Happening! Just under the surface) a second time in July 2023 and I got to hear how much things had changed and how much the agency had grown. 

Since that first interview, I’ve been in awe of the company and Jonathan’s approach, so when I saw an opening for a position that looked like it could be a match, I went for it! I’m so happy to be on the team!

What’s your favorite part of your job?

So far, it’s the people and the process. The people here are smart, kind, inviting, fun, organized, and passionate. You can’t help but be drawn into the tPX world! The onboarding process, the work, and the resources have all been top notch! I’m so impressed with how much this small but mighty team can do.

I’m excited by the potential opportunity to help us grow in the education/training space and in the industry that I know well: textiles, apparel and footwear.

thinkPARALLAX’s purpose is to inspire fresh perspectives on sustainable business transformation. What perspective do you bring to tPX, our clients, and/or our industry?

I started at Volcom back in 1996 and jumped into sustainability relatively early, so I have a diverse set of experiences. I’ve worked at a brand and hired consultants, I’ve been an outside consultant to brands, instructed at a college, and I (perhaps uniquely) have an art degree and an MBA. I’m able to view conversations and issues through a variety of lenses, and often from both sides of the table.

What’s a project you’ve worked on (at tPX or a previous role) that you really enjoyed or that felt really meaningful?

One of the last projects I worked with Volcom on was one of my favorites. It was the Farm to Yarn program. We worked with the company’s then parent company, Kering, an NGO called CottonConnect, and farmers in India to build a traceable certified organic cotton t-shirt program that included a farmer business school component, a women’s empowerment program, and an organic farming capacity-building program. The trips I took with the team to India, and Bangladesh were so memorable, and meeting and hearing from the farmers and their families at their local farms was an amazing opportunity.

We paired the programs with some inspiring communication pieces that included a microsite, video shorts, and a mini documentary. In the end, it was a brilliant reminder that sustainability is a game of collaboration.

What causes are you most interested in?

Supporting first-gen college students (like me), enhancing the lives of UCI alumni, protecting oceans (I’m on the board of PangeaSeed Foundation), public radio (KCRW), and community-based organizations like The Ecology Center and Project Hope Alliance.

What brings you joy outside of work?

It’s the simple things- surfing, yoga, breathwork, morning walks with my wife and dog, family dinners, the right music, cold showers in the morning, learning from others, and interesting vegetarian fare paired with good wine.

thinkPARALLAX spotlight: Derek Sabori
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