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The M Dash

Live with purpose.

Sarah LaFleur’s Ten-Year Goals and 2023 Commitments for M.M.LaFleur

Our Founder & CEO shares her hopes, dreams, and plans.

By Sarah LaFleur

January 1, 2023 marks M.M.LaFleur’s ten-year anniversary. We’ve been through a lot since my co-founders, Miyako Nakamura and Narie Foster, and I hit publish on our ecommerce website at 3am on January 1st. The rest was not history, but rather, one winding, exciting, anxiety-inducing, and often heartbreaking journey, some of which I had the opportunity to share with Guy Raz on “How I Built This.”

I am so thankful that M.M. made it through the past two and a half years of the pandemic. In truth, there were times when I wondered if we would go out of business. But thanks to you, we made it. So for that, and for all of your continuous support over the years—thank you.

Knowing that we have the opportunity to stay in business when so many companies don’t, I’m even more motivated to make the next decade count. We’ll make it count by continuing to design products that genuinely improve the lives of our customers. We’ll make it count by rethinking the way we partner with our manufacturers so that more women can earn a living wage. We’ll make it count by empowering the women on our team to build an even better company.

Recently, a dear friend of mine introduced me to the concept of writing a “press release” from the future. So, I took her advice and decided to write one for M.M.LaFleur in 2033.

I shared this with my team back in October, and today, I’ve decided to share it with you, our customers. It’s a vulnerable thing, revealing your pie-in-the-sky dreams to hundreds of thousands of people, but saying our goals out loud is a way of holding myself accountable. So below, find my dream 2033 “press release,” followed by our commitments for this coming year.

My 2033 “Press Release”


New York, NY, January 15, 2033: M.M.LaFleur, the women’s fashion company, unveiled the opening of a new women’s workforce center in New York City in partnership with its long-term partners Bottomless Closet and the International Rescue Committee. The center is focused on providing women from all backgrounds, including recent immigrants and refugees, with the tools they need to enter or reenter the workforce, including resume writing and interview training, as well as interview clothing.

Founder & CEO Sarah LaFleur said that this workforce center is the culmination of the company’s decade-long journey. “Our slogan, from Day One, has been that the world is a better place when women succeed,” said LaFleur. “As we reflected on the kind of company we wanted to build over the next decade, Miyako and I decided to expand our definition of whom we supported. Empowering our customers through our products was a good beginning, but we also wanted to back our female mill workers and manufacturers, become an even more family-friendly company to our employees, and ultimately make a major commitment to serving underprivileged women. That’s a business we knew we could be proud of.”

M.M.LaFleur took a bold step in 2023 when the company committed to donating 10% of its profits annually, and over the past decade, they have donated more than $20M to causes related to women’s empowerment. M.M. further shocked the world in 2026 when they declared that they only worked with fabric mills and factories that have women in at least a third of leadership positions. The company also became carbon neutral in 2030.

Most recently, M.M.LaFleur was ranked in the top ten of Fortune’s “Best Places to Work.” Since 2022, the company has closed the office for two weeks out of the year to allow for a “collective period of rest.” The company’s headquarters in New York provides onsite daycare services and flexible work structures including schedules, location, and family support.

Over the past decade, M.M.LaFleur has taken the fashion world by storm, becoming the destination for Power Casual clothing that speaks to the needs of the modern woman. This summer, the Brooklyn Museum is honoring M.M.LaFleur in a retrospective showcasing the evolution of professional women’s clothing over the past two decades. While the brand initially launched as a clothing company in 2013, it introduced a handbag line in 2026 and a beauty line in 2028. The brand has been a favorite of some of the world’s most iconic professional women, including the President of the United States.

While the company has been approached by strategic acquirers over the years, it chooses to be an independent company. When asked about the key to its success, LaFleur said, “It has always been, and always will be, about the people. We have an ambitious team of women and men and a devoted group of shareholders, partners, and customers who are committed not only to their personal success, but to the success of women all over the world.”

Our 2023 Commitments

For the past two years, we’ve had the privilege of working with sustainability advisory firm Eleven Radius to develop a long-term sustainability roadmap based on The UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. After an extensive review process with our team and consultants, we homed in on three areas where we believe our company can have the greatest impact. Here are our three objectives and the projects we’re working on right now.

Commitment 1: Promote gender equality worldwide by putting more money into the hands of women—starting with the women throughout our organization and supply chain.

Supporting Our Suppliers

Since the beginning, developing strong relationships with our factories has been central to the way we operate. We value our factory partners deeply, communicate with them constantly, and believe in supporting them long-term. Prior to Covid, our team made regular overseas visits to meet with our vendors. All M.M.LaFleur vendors meet local wage and social-compliance requirements, and we regularly inquire about working conditions to ensure that our factory partners are upholding the standards that are important to us.

In 2023, we will take things a step further by completing a social compliance audit with a living wage lens. 75% of garment workers are women, and only 2% of those workers are paid a living wage (learn about the difference between minimum wage and living wage here.) This is a major, industry-wide problem that we hope to change one step at a time, starting with our own supply chain.

  • By June of 2023: Complete an SA8000 social compliance audit, which includes a living wage lens, of all manufacturing partners. After gathering the results of this audit, we will develop a living-wage Progress Plan for our manufacturers and mills.
  • By the end of 2023: Finish developing our Progress Plan, which will involve partnering with our manufacturers and mills to roll out a comprehensive living wage program. We will set up individualized milestones and goals for each of our partners to achieve over the next 2-3 years.
  • By 2026: Implement living wage goals across our supply chain.
  • Ongoing: Communicate our progress with customers on an annual basis.

Empowering Our Employees

One of my most important roles as CEO is to make sure that M.M.LaFleur is an empowering, rewarding, and joyful place to work. As a women-owned and women-led company whose board is 60% women, we are committed to having a significant and positive impact on our employees’ careers. Here are some of our ongoing initiatives.

  • Pay and Leveling Transparency: We have a transparent payscale and leveling system to eliminate the biases that often lead to women receiving less pay for equal work. This payscale was the result of a challenging but rewarding two-year process where we made some mistakes and had a lot of learnings.
  • Two-Week Annual Office Closure: We offer two week-long HQ office closures per year.
  • Paid Parental Leave: We offer 12 weeks of paid leave for all new parents, regardless of gender.
  • Hiring: We ensure that the hiring pools for all new roles include candidates from historically underrepresented groups.

Championing the Success of Women Everywhere

Part of living our mission means going beyond our customers and employees to support women everywhere, with the help of incredible organizations like Bottomless Closet, The International Rescue Committee, Girl Scouts of the USA, and She Should Run. Over the years, we have donated over $1M to these organizations in financial support and clothing. We’ve also supported them in other ways, such as by leading career workshops for Bottomless Closet clients and Girl Scouts, bringing awareness to their missions by featuring them in our digital magazine, and facilitating donations to Bottomless Closet in all of our stores.

Starting in 2023, we’re taking a bold new step: Going forward, we are committed to donating 10% of our yearly profits to organizations that support and promote the success of women. We’ll share the recipients of these funds in early 2024.

How You Can Help

  • Learn about our partner organizations and their missions, and consider donating to them if you’re able to do so.
  • Where possible, shop with companies that work closely with their suppliers and pay fair wages throughout their supply chains.
  • If you’re an executive or an HR professional at your company and are interested in learning more about how you can institute pay and leveling transparency, please contact us at
Commitment 2: Design and produce long-lasting products and provide sustainable solutions for when you're done with an item.

The biggest waste in fashion comes from fast fashion, and as much as 85% of textile waste from discarded garments in the U.S. ends up in landfills. Changing this has always been part of our goal: Since the beginning, we’ve prided ourselves on producing thoughtful, timeless pieces that are built to last, in terms of both durability and style, as well as offering complimentary expert styling services that help you identify the right clothes for your body and wardrobe.

That said, we also understand that wardrobes, dress codes, and sizes evolve over time, and at some point, you may end up with an M.M.LaFleur piece you no longer need. We’re committed to providing customers with easy ways to responsibly get rid of clothes once you’re done with them. In 2021, we launched Second Act, a customer-to-customer resale marketplace that allows you to seamlessly buy and sell pre-loved M.M. clothing (here’s why resale is the most responsible way to get rid of unwanted clothing). For non-M.M. pieces, we also have a partnership with thredUP, where you can resell, donate, or recycle your items. Here’s what’s next on our list.

  • By the end of 2023: Further improve fit standardization and provide more fit guidance on our website to reduce shipments back and forth to our warehouse.
  • By the end of 2023: Provide customers with detailed instructions on responsible garment recycling.


Over the past several years, we’ve begun prioritizing preferred materials that have less of an environmental impact, while maintaining the quality and longevity that’s always been important to us. Using preferred materials means making decisions throughout the production process that lower our environmental footprint. Sometimes, that looks like developing fabrics made from recycled materials; other times, it looks like partnering with an organization like Fabscrap, whom we’ve worked with for the past 6 years, to responsibly recycle fabric scraps from the development process. Because the technology surrounding preferred materials and practices is constantly improving, this is an ongoing and iterative process. At the end of the day, a commitment to prioritizing preferred materials means that we will make the most responsible choices we can right now, while leaving room to continue improving as technology advances.

As of now, we’ve converted 50% of our core fabrics to preferred materials, including Recycled WonderTex, Eco Soft Wave, Better Than Denim, Eco Heavy Crepe, and Washable Silk. 70% of our inventory is shipped from our factories to our warehouse by boat, rather than by plane, which is significantly more fuel-efficient and thus reduces the carbon footprint of each garment. And in 2020, we transitioned to flat-pack shipping from our factories to our warehouse, which takes up less transit space and requires fewer cartons. Additionally, we take care to use recycled materials in our packaging when possible: Our hangtags are made from 100% recycled paper; the polybags used to ship from our factories are biodegradable; and our bubble mailers are made with 50% recycled materials and take up less transit space than cardboard boxes. Here’s what we’re working on next.

  • By June of 2023: Establish list of products to convert to preferred materials.
  • By the end of 2023: Introduce more transparency around our materials and where they come from, including sharing factory information with our customers.
  • By 2026: Convert 100% of our highest-selling fabrics to preferred materials.
  • By 2030: Convert 100% of our fabrics to preferred materials.
  • By 2030: Become climate-neutral.
  • Ongoing: Work with Fabscrap to divert fabric scraps made during the development process from landfills.


  • When you shop, look for garments that use preferred materials, such as recycled fibers, organic materials, and biodegradable materials.
  • Shop with brands that offer details around their fabrics and textile waste practices.
I look forward to sharing more updates with you throughout the year as we make progress on these goals. In the meantime, keep dreaming big—I’ll be right there with you.

Written By

Sarah LaFleur

Sarah LaFleur is the founder and CEO of professional womenswear brand MM.LaFleur . Her mission: to take the work out of dressing for work.

See more of Sarah's articles
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