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I entered Books & Books on an overcast day to interview María Eugenia Girón, an accomplished entrepreneur and author of several books, including the most recent Inside Luxury, which hones in on the luxury industry from the business model. Old World charm comes to mind when one thinks of the Spanish-born María Eugenia. She is elegant and radiates a warm smile as I join her in the Bookstore Café, and we talk all things luxury and fashion and what it means to be at the forefront of the Sustainable Luxury movement.
María Eugenia Giron was born and raised in Spain where she still resides, along with her husband and two children (in Madrid) to this day. Her interest in the luxury market was first piqued when after studying and working in Finance she headed to the United States to Harvard University where she graduated with a degree in business. “It was in the States that I first discovered the high-end consumer goods industry. It was just beginning when I graduated from the University in 1992.” She felt drawn to the industry because “it was growing and it needed people who had business skills, but also had an interest in creativity and design and working with creative people to get the best out of them.” The collaborative process turned out to be one of her greatest passions, as she learned to identify, share the stories of, and work with the creative geniuses behind these luxury brands.
She is currently the Executive Director of the Instituto de Empresa (IE) Business School Premium and Prestige Business Center, which is sponsored by Mastercard. She also teaches at IE and has been on the Board of Directors since 2009. She turned to both writing and academics because “I saw the opportunity of sharing with others what I had learned from this fascinating industry.”
When she joined the Board of Directors of the environmental organization Oceana, seven years ago “it made me very knowledgeable and sensitive to the significant issues we are going through regarding the planet.” This, in turn, prompted her interest in “the issue of sustainability, consumption and how there is a way of being a more responsible consumer and how that is related to this luxury industry in many ways.”
Her latest book, Sustainable Luxury, is a fascinating read for anyone interested in luxury goods. It began in collaboration with Miguel Angel Gardetti, an engineer, and professor and expert on the topic of sustainability. Five years ago, he called María Eugenia to serve on the jury of an award. Through this award “I came into contact with hundreds of entrepreneurs who were making sustainability the center of their business models.”
María Eugenia is quick to point out “that there is now a new generation of millennials who are very sensitive to sustainability and luxury, and for them, it’s not acceptable that a luxury brand would have behind it a story of destruction.”
When azureazure,com asked María Eugenia if there is a shift in the luxury goods market towards sustainability she tells us: “I think Big Brands and the established brands are taking initiatives to be more responsible and more sustainable in the industry.”
“I intend to continue the search for these voices so that I can tell their stories while learning and teaching others about smart consumption, conservation, and craftsmanship. “I think we are going back to the real meaning of luxury which is a product made to last forever,” she states. ■