Conscious Consumerism: Talking with the Founders of Ethical Shopping Site Zady

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Friends since high school, 31 year-old Maxine Bédat and 29 year-old Soraya Darabi had always admired one another’s determined, entrepreneurial spirit. In the years after graduation, Darabi became a rising star in the digital realm, first managing social media at the New York Times and then founding the app Foodspotting, while Bédat formed the nonprofit fair trade organization The Bootstrap Project to assist artisans in the developing world. They reconnected and went on to create the website Zady, a destination for consumers who want to purchase ethically sourced and manufactured products without sacrificing style. The site, launched this week, tells a story about each brand while awarding badges of authenticity that speak to the clarity they believe consumers are seeking: locally sourced, handmade, high quality raw materials, environmentally conscious, made in the USA, and a product of The Bootstrap Project. Bédat and Darabi chatted with TIME about what it means to be a “clothitarian” and why they hope to become the Whole Foods of the fashion world. How did your experience with The Bootstrap Project propel the creation of Zady? Bédat: The idea with The Bootstrap Project was to revive the craft traditions and bring employment at the same time. Darabi: For a long time I admired the work of nonprofit organizations like Kiva for lending microeconomic loans to artisans, often women, in the developing world, but Maxine seemed to pick up where microeconomic loans leave off by helping the artisans build up their basic business vernacular and skills and access better raw materials. Her organization trains one master artisan to teach other local artisans how to make the craft, so that ultimately something that deserves to be preserved isn’t lost entirely because of globalization. We discovered thereafter that we both had this fascination with supply chain and the way things are made. Bédat: We weren’t born or innately interested in that. We had always shopped how the rest of our generation shopped—fast fashion and things like that. But once we dug into this story and understood that it takes,
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