Eileen Fisher Follows Her Own Sense Of Purpose

By Ilgin Beygo Yorulmaz

Founder of the eponymous clothing brand known for its simple shapes and beautiful fabrics, Eileen Fisher is celebrated for running a profitable business on a socially conscious and environmentally sustainable philosophy.

“Simplicity and sustainability have always been inspirations for me in my work to create comfortable clothes that support women to be confident. I want to make timeless pieces that last and won’t harm the environment,” she says.

For Fisher, a life of commitment means knowing who she is; what matters to her; and what she’s called to do: “I try to follow my own energy, my sense of purpose.  Sometimes that looks like me showing up for my kids, or helping the company to make a difference in the world, or creating spaces for people to grow and develop.”

Fisher grew up Catholic, and says that showing up with love in all that she does has been the core idea that has guided her. She considers herself lucky to have had different teachers and practices from other spiritual disciplines that have “helped find her inner guide” and inspired her throughout her life – from yoga, meditation teachers, Buddhism, to therapists, friends and coworkers. “Each has taught me something that has helped anchor me in difficult times,” she confides.

Fisher  thrives on the energy of her work environment.  It has practical realities, while “at the same time, you’re working with people, creativity and ideas…and there is a spiritual quality to it,” she notes.

How we treat people, … how we inspire and connect with others matters in terms of the work that we do. There is an opportunity to look at work in a holistic way that goes beyond just making a living.  We can be motivated by a larger sense of purpose, and try to make the world a better place.

How we inspire and connect with others matters in terms of the work that we do Click to Tweet

It matters to her that the people she works with know and are committed to that mission.  She’s passionate about where business can go and new models that hold businesses responsible for environmental and social impacts beyond profit.  She sums it up by saying:

I believe in business as a force for good. Click to Tweet

Fisher aspires to be the kind of leader who listens with openness in order to engage and inspire others. Through her company’s Learning Lab and LifeWork programs, she shares transformational practices and different workshops she accumulated over the years.  For her, a leader “should help others to find meaning, purpose and passion for the work they do.”

And what would she be in life, if she didn’t become a designer? “A dancer! I feel most alive when I’m dancing.  I guess that enlivened feeling is what I’m after,” she says. Nevertheless, she clearly gets that feeling through her meaningful work.

With a company so dedicated to women and the environment — two things Fisher feels passionate about — she’s very nervous about the current administration’s policy plans and approach to these two issues.

“This current administration doesn’t have enough women in it – and that needs to change!  I’ve worked hard my whole life to find my voice and to build my self-confidence.  It’s only in recent years that I’ve realized something important:  My voice matters.  Women have great power – our voices and decisions can make a huge difference in the world,” Fisher says.

She wants to continue to support her employees, her customers, women and girls everywhere to find their individual purpose, to use their voices and to engage in important, meaningful causes in these turbulent times.

Eileen Fisher is a 2017 Auburn Seminary Lives of Commitment Award honoree.   Auburn’s Lives of Commitment Awards Benefit Breakfast will take place on April 27, 2017 at Cipriani 42nd Street at 7:00 am. You may reserve your seat by clicking here.     

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