Faced with the threat of global climate change, businesses are increasingly focused on the development of sound environmental practices. Young entrepreneurs such as USC College alumna Andrea McBride '07 are at the forefront of this worldwide green business movement.
McBride, 27, is cofounder and chief executive officer of Lineage Imports, a boutique importer specializing in New Zealand wine and specialty products, and co-owner of St. Luke’s Estate Wines. Her wine brand, eco.love wines, is a wholly owned subsidiary within the New Zealand Wine Company and is set to launch in the United States this summer.
McBride spent her childhood in New Zealand, where her family grows and harvests grapes for wine, but was not initially interested in the family business. She came to the U.S. after USC offered the gifted athlete a full athletic scholarship to participate in varsity volleyball as well as track and field.
Once in Los Angeles, she quickly recognized the unique business opportunity her upbringing afforded her. “I realized the potential for the wine business, specifically from New Zealand,” McBride said.
The simple mantra “be a tidy Kiwi” was ingrained in her head from an early age and still guides her business practices today. As an island nation at the bottom of the Southern Hemisphere, New Zealand has already begun to experience the effects of global warming. “If I can make simple changes in my life and business to help maintain our environment, why not?” she said.
For McBride and Lineage Imports, running a green business is more than just talk: The New Zealand Wine Company has been certified through New Zealand’s carboNZero program, making it the world’s first carbon neutral winery.
The internationally accredited carbon footprinting program recognizes businesses like McBride’s that measure and reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, and assists them in offsetting remaining unavoidable emissions. “This means from vineyard to consumer, we have measured, managed and mitigated all aspects of our business supply chain to earn a ‘carbon neutral status,’” she said.
McBride built her business on the principles of quality, education and community involvement. First and foremost, she strives to make great wine accessible to both casual and educated wine drinkers. The purity of the air, land, water and soil in New Zealand creates the perfect conditions. “We produce gorgeous specialized wines at a great price that anyone can enjoy without extensive knowledge,” she said.
Her secondary aim is to provide wine drinkers with a gateway to further education about sustainability. By providing a quality green product, McBride hopes to inspire consumers to make more environmentally friendly choices in other areas of life.
At an April green jobs panel — part of Earth Week at USC — McBride spoke to undergraduates about the unique mix between her business philosophy and environmental goals.
She considered the panel a great opportunity to share her journey as a green entrepreneur with USC students. “I hope I can inspire and motivate young people to get out and start stimulating the economy in a financially productive, green way,” she said.
A deep connection to USC and the L.A. community was instrumental in shaping McBride’s philosophy of environmentally and socially responsible business. When asked about her hopes for the university itself, McBride said, “I would like to see USC become an even more sustainable university in the near future.”
McBride is taking active steps toward making this dream a reality. Starting this fall, antipodes — Lineage Imports’ water brand — can be ordered from the USC Sustainability Web site. A portion of each sale will be donated directly to the sustainability effort at USC. “I aspire to introduce compelling wine and specialty products to the world while simultaneously giving back to communities in need,” she said.
A recent graduate, the international studies major sees an enormous opportunity for College students to make an immediate, positive impact on the environment. She recently created an internship program called “Hustle Green” for USC undergraduates with an interest in green entrepreneurship, in which participants will be directly involved with the USC/antipodes project. McBride hopes to attract students from all USC schools with various majors and skills who are interested in the possibilities of green business and sustainability.
McBride’s vision for Lineage Imports and her other endeavors is good business sense mixed with refreshing optimism. As she follows her business plan, this young entrepreneur takes time to give back, both to her community and to the world.