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John Hardy: Green House
Bamboo is just the beginning of the brand's efforts to reduce its ecological impact.

Although it’s lately become fashionable to market “green” causes, you might not know that a major fine jewelry company is one of the best examples of an ecologically aware brand. The management and employees of John Hardy take being environmentally conscious as seriously as they do their sterling silver and gold jewelry designs. But they don’t advertise the fact.

It’s all about authenticity, says Damien Dernoncourt, president. “When we at John Hardy speak about our marketing, the emphasis is on great design and handmade quality of our artisans and craftspeople. Yes, we are a green company and trying to be an even better one, but it’s not something we advertise.”

Although a small logo on John Hardy advertising refers to “sustainable luxury,” a concept that includes giving back when spending resources for business, the company’s efforts aren’t touted in advertising and marketing materials. “The fact is, being green is really part of our brand DNA,” says Dernoncourt, who points to other successful green friendly brands, such as Patagonia, which has been a model of authentic environmental activity.

Dernoncourt led a management buyout of John Hardy last June. John Hardy, the company’s founder, and his partner, his wife Cynthia, left to pursue their own philanthropic endeavors, many in Bali, their Indonesian island home where the studio and workshop are located. Dernoncourt says Hardy’s vision continues to inspire employees in the company’s offices in Bali, Hong Kong, and New York. Indeed, Dernoncourt says he hopes to triple John Hardy’s current $150 million in annual sales in just three years, “while staying true to the key concept of sustainable luxury.” Dernoncourt calls Hardy, “my mentor. It’s because of him and what the brand stands for that I joined the company.”

One of the company’s first initiatives involved planting bamboo, the long-lived, fast growing perennial grass that can grow to mammoth size. John Hardy, a seasoned environmentalist, initiated the planting of bamboo in Nusa Penida, an island near Bali where deforestation had ruined the tropical landscape.Bamboo also has a role in the making of John Hardy jewelry. The company’s workshop, Kapal Bamboo, which is situated amid rice fields, is made entirely of bamboo and alang-alang grass. No hardwood, which takes years to grow and is endangered in many tropical rainforests, was used. Designed by Malaysian architect Cheong Yew Kuan, the workshop cost only about $6,000.

The bamboo collection is carried through in the company’s sustainable advertising program, which is funded by a limited edition collection of sterling silver bamboo jewelry which is available on its web site, www.sustainableadvertising.com. Each piece of bamboo jewelry is inscribed inside with the number of bamboo seedlings that will be planted as a result of the sale of the jewelry. In 2008, the bamboo jewelry collection will be rolled out to about 20 doors.

The idea has been to plant the bamboo to “make up” as it were the amount of paper generated by John Hardy’s advertising. As of December 2007, the results of John Hardy’s sustainable advertising has been more than 17.5 acres of mixed bamboo species planted on Nusa Penida island. Such plantings can result in conserving soil, water, and wildlife that has been dwindling due to natural forests being cleared. Going forward, more seedlings will be planted with participating farmers having more water to keep the plants green during the dry season.

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Kapal Bamboo
Kapal Bamboo, John Hardy’s Bali showroom.
Bali showroom
John Hardy’s Bali showroom is composed mostly of bamboo rather than hardwood.
John Hardy
Damien Dernoncourt, president, John Hardy.
Sterling silver bamboo bangles
Sterling silver bamboo bangles from John Hardy, (212) 219-4288. A portion of sales goes to plant more bamboo in Bali.