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Monica Rumeu is the CEO of Corporate Responsibility of Grupo CIO,  a family holding that includes hotels, industry and service businesses in the Canary Islands with over 100 years of history and a thousand employees. Monica is a generous, committed, and refined fashion lover who is passionate in everything she does. She is definitely one of those women who inspires us. Today we reached out to her for an in-depth interview.

 

Craftsmanship and sustainability

Our sustainable philosophy and passion for craftsmanship make us feel identified with your resolution to put Corporate Responsibility (CR) at the core of your business. Why did Grupo CIO take that compromise to contribute to the economic and social development of the Islands and what advantages do you think that gives you regarding other companies?

The compromise to contribute to the economic, social, and also environmental development of the Islands comes from our values as a family business rooted in the Canary Islands, with over four generations behind us. We want to contribute to the place where we come from and be able to grow together.

We have diversified our businesses over the history of our Group and we have always felt our teams as part of our family. Innovation is a hallmark that helps us keep our eyes open and adapt to the new times. I think that’s the reason why CR was integrated in our company 9 years ago, before many others did. It was suggested by Francisco Javier Zamorano, the CEO of Grupo CIO, who offered me to lead it, which I felt like a great present.

We designed a strategic plan with the help of a specialist  because we wanted to build a good base in order to integrate into the DNA of all our staff.

Two years ago, aligned with the importance to have te right pieces of this puzzle, we incorporated an environmental expert to create the environmental sustainable strategy for the whole group. His millennial profile gives us the input that we needed, since it’s essential to lead with example to raise awareness in the whole Group.

When I started in my CR role, our goal was to feel that our businesses were competing to be more responsible, but nowadays this is not an option; it’s an obligation. Today, businesses are aiming to increase their sustainability. However, we have experienced that unfortunately, it is the society who is leading that movement, and the public administration and businesses go behind. The tools we currently have don’t allow us to go as fast as we’d like. We need a bigger compromise from the public administration to lead with legislation and resources in a way that help us progress in a responsible manner as soon as possible.  

In our Group, we have transformed this area into our DNA, and our ultimate goal is to engage all our staff to feel it as their own. To accomplish that goal we need training, resources and example.

Therefore, our mantra is ‘it’s not important what you say, but what you do’.

This resolution brings our team a sense of pride and happiness. Working in an environment that motivate and inspire you is really positive and has an impact on the customer.

 

Training, environmental consciousness, NGO collaborations, women empowerment…tell us which are your main projects and which one do you feel more pride of! 

Since its inception, CR became very strong in our Group, as we already had a strong social consciousness being a family group. I had no difficulty in permeabilizing our SR goals into all our departments.

I have visited personally many associations in Tenerife, in order to better assess how can we help them.

My job makes me very happy, and we build bonds with amazing people that work helping others, we help make their work visible and raise awareness of the capacities of disadvantaged groups.

Our CR policy is well known for the amount of different actions we are involved at a local and international level. We invest a great deal of love and care in training underquafied people with difficulties to get a job, we give grants and develop actions within the company to promote talent and address the basic needs of our staff. We also donate money and resources aimed to empower and train persons with functional and other disabilities. At an international community level, we collaborate with Ayuda en Acción for over 20 years, sponsoring 40 kids, through a collaboration with our customers. We are involved in over 100 events and NGO projects every year!

I particularly love collaborating with an environmental NGO to clean a beach once a year. We invite volunteers and mental disabilities from associations we collaborate with. We spend the day cleaning the beach shore and then we have lunch all together.

 

Corporate responsibility in the fashion world

You majored in Fashion Merchandising in London and LA. Nowadays, CR and fashion are more than ever interconnected. What do you think is the impact of sustainability in fashion?

Fashion is in the spotlight and must continue reinventing itself in a responsible way. There are a myriad of brands that already do it at a larger or smaller level, but, as all the industries, fashion must also become sustainable.

Choosing what we wear everyday for those who love fashion, and also for the rest, will become another way to express ourselves. I think that we will all become more informed consumers. We will look at what the brand does for the environment and their community and we will choose accordingly.

The concepts of slow fashion, handmade, local production, and things made to last, are here to stay. I have been responsible for buying for our shops at Bahia del Duque Hotel for 21 years and I have experienced a change in the last two years. I have seen new 100% sustainable brands created and other brands that are becoming more sustainable. I take that into account when making my decisions.

What first impressed me from Hissia was their commitment with social projects through their packaging. I instantly developed a deep respect for the brand where I recognized not only talent in their design but also in their conscience.

 

Hissia, local design in a global world

Your company was very innovative to create the Bahia del Duque Hotel, the first hotel inspired by the local architecture from the Canary Islands in the luxury segment. As opposed to other hotel chains, you have also been innovative in managing your own hotel shops and inviting local designers to sell in them. How do you think this strategy adds value for your customers and what feedback do you receive?

We indeed feel a sense of pride and belonging to our community, and that is reflected in the hotel image, where even the staff uniforms are inspired by the local clothing. Our shops have grown together with our customers, many of whom have been coming back to the hotel over the years. We feel very grateful for that and that’s a great motivation to strive for excellence.  

Supporting local talent is only an example of that philosophy. This way, we not only support our local economy, we also help promote the amazing offer existing from our local design and craftmanship. I feel they are a very closed community, full of admiration and respect among them, which  makes me support them strongly.

We have had a really good turnover in sales this last year. When I asked my team what our customers valued the most, I was really happy to know it was our local designers offer.

 

You are one of the most stylish women we know, with a totally personal, eclectic and very special sense of fashion. What do you think is Hissia’s contribution to the fashion world?

This blog is a perfect example of the brand’s concern not only to create beautiful products, but also to add value creating awareness and contributing with the community. 

Hissia has Beatriz, and she and her elegance are the essence of the brand. She is beautiful, careful, engaged and passionate. You can tell she wants her pieces to be like her. And she is constantly creating! We, as Hissia customers, feel spoilt by her designs, as we can all relate to her wide range of designs, including timeless, modern jewels for both everyday and night wear, but always delicate, expressive and beautiful. Her handmade jewels epitomize the slow fashion concept, that we need to embrace. 

 

We know that you are a confessed Hissia lover. What piece would you choose as your favourite?

Ha, ha, ha! Everytime I see you I show you my ears as I love you to see how I decided to mix your earrings that morning! Right now I’m addicted to your Lightning studs together with your Marrakech small hoops in gold. The same applies to your rings.

I love everything you do, and I’m already thinking about which gemstone pendant will I choose for my next necklace from your new collection. What I love the best is to see our customers fall in love with your pieces and see your jewels set from our store to different parts or the world!

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