Meet Michelle Tarry, Aerie fam! Michelle is our Sr. Director of Responsible Sourcing and Sustainability. We caught up with her to find out more about her role and how we can keep it green in our everyday lives.

Michelle Tarry, Sr. Director of Responsible Sourcing at Aerie.

What does a Sr. Director of Responsible Sourcing and Sustainability do?

My job covers two areas of work, Responsible Sourcing and Sustainability. For Responsible Sourcing, I oversee our programs that are making sure the factories that make our products meet our standards for working conditions. That means that workers are treated fairly, the workplace is safe, and the factory meets legal requirements. We do this by visiting the factories and reviewing records, and most importantly interviewing workers to hear from them directly. 

On the sustainability side, I am leading the work to meet our corporate sustainability initiatives, which includes our goals for water, energy reduction, waste reduction, and the use of more sustainable raw materials.

Visiting a cotton farm in the US that meets the sustainable growing practices standards of the Better Cotton Initiative.

“I feel incredibly fortunate to be able to work on these topics which are so important to me personally, with such great internal support throughout the company.”

What is something people wouldn’t expect about the role/field?

What may be surprising to those not involved with production is how many people around the world have a hand in making a product before it gets to a store. From the farmers who grow the cotton, to the many, many people throughout the supply chain. The way we responsibly do business touches so many aspects of the fashion industry.      

Visiting a denim mill in China. Factory visits are an opportunity to learn more about how to change manufacturing practices so that they make a smaller environmental impact.

Why is sustainability important in today’s retail climate and what impact do you see it having on future production?

We know our customers care about sustainability, and we also know our associates want to work for a company and create products that reflect their values. It is more important than ever that we make our products in a way that has the least amount of impact on the environment, and our practices positively influence the communities where they are made.

“It is more important than ever that we make our products in a way that has the least amount of impact on the environment, and our practices positively influence the communities where they are made.”

How did the idea for Real Good start and what was the process of that coming to life?

The development of Real Good was a very collaborative process with many cross-functional partners across our business. We have set out to achieve two main goals: (1) Help guide our design and production teams as they incorporate more sustainable elements into our collections and (2) establish a way to communicate to our customers which products have sustainable characteristics.

What are some of your favorite REAL GOOD products from Aerie?

It’s too hard to choose! I love that we make products that make you feel good–and are made in a way that keeps our planet in mind.

“I love that we make products that make you feel good–and are made in a way that keeps our planet in mind.”

What do you do in your personal life to keep things green?

I have two kids who are just becoming old enough to start to understand the need to make changes to be more sustainable, so I try to involve them in making better decisions. We go to a local store to buy some items in bulk to reduce packaging, plan out vegetarian meals, and give lots of love to “Sparky”, our little electric car. We’ve also started a garden and backyard composting, which has been quite a learning experience!

The reason to keep working to make the world a better place!

What are some fun ways everyone can practice sustainability in their lives? 

I think the key is to start small, and not get overwhelmed overhauling your lifestyle. Set a goal for Meatless Mondays, take your own bags to the store, and turn off lights. If you have kids, give them permission to hassle the adults around them to be more environmentally conscious – they’ll love it.

“Set a goal for Meatless Mondays, take your own bags to the store, and turn off lights.”

What advice do you have for someone who wants to get involved in the sustainability field?

The advice I give the most often is that you can work on sustainability issues no matter your role. It’s vital that people throughout any organization think about sustainability and how they can support changes within their departments. 

For anyone at AEO that is interested in a more sustainable lifestyle, we would love to have you join our Green Team associate network (AEO’s version of an employee resource group)!

Thank you Michelle for some great insight and advice on sustainability! What was your favorite part and what jobs do you want to learn about next in our #AerieREAL Shop Talk series, Aerie fam? Sound off in the comments. 

See more

REAL Talk

Honoring & Celebrating AAPI Heritage Month!

In honor of Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month, we wanted to uplift…

Aerie Fam

Honoring World Autism Awareness Day!

We caught up with #AerieREAL Changemaker Lauren Abercrombie founder of Inclusion Fusion to get REAL…

Aerie Fam

Celebrate World Down Syndrome Day with the Aerie Fam!

This World Down Syndrome Day, we’re highlighting the stories of two Aerie fam members: 2021…

Share your comments

Thanks for sharing! Your comment will post soon. We double check first to make sure #AerieREAL Life is always a safe, positive space.