The launch of Zady.com — a shopping platform that offers consumers transparency on the origin of sourced apparel and accessories — is off to a running start.
What sets Zady apart from the abundance of apparel and accessories e-commerce sites is a purist concept that caters to conscious consumerism. It’s an idea similar to the Whole Foods strategy that sparked a movement to question where food comes from.
The site, which launched in early September, was cofounded by Soraya Darabi, cocreator of the Foodspotting app, and Maxine Bédat, founder of The Bootstrap Project, a nonprofit partner that promotes the revival of centuries-old crafts from around the world.
Darabi said each product — whether it’s lounge pants, T-shirts, handbags or home accessories — is personally vetted by using criteria for sustainability, including where a product is sourced, if it’s handmade and is rendered in high-quality raw materials or is environmentally conscious. Made in America is also a strong factor.
“The brands are required to sign a contract verifying the location of the company, the manufacturing city and the source of the raw materials,” said Darabi, a former manager of digital partnerships and social media for The New York Times.
Five percent of proceeds from every sale will benefit the The Bootstrap Project, which is currently working with artisans in Zambia, Tajikistan, Nepal and Turkey, said Bédat.
“Through my travels in Africa and elsewhere from my prior work [in human rights], I saw firsthand how our world’s artistic traditions were being threatened because of the pressures of globalization. The aim of Bootstrap is to revive these traditions and with it economic development,” said Bédat, who interned at the United Nations and earned a law degree after clerking at the Rwandan Criminal Tribunal.
Both Bédat and Darabi share a love of finely made products, and they credit the organic food movement as inspiration for their e-business.
“We realized that thanks to Whole Foods and the overall organic food movement, we were seriously questioning what we put in our bodies, but with our clothing and accessories, we still remained in the dark about what exactly was being put on our bodies,” explained Bédat. “We discover our brands through a lot of digging, but it is quite an organic process. At the outset we were helped by our advisor, Stephanie Seeley, who was the vice president of merchandising for Advanstar. She knew everyone in the industry and was personally very interested in seeing a more sustainable fashion industry.”
The target customer is described as in her “early 20s to late 30s.
“He or she enjoys farm-to-table restaurants and organic food, has an appreciation for travel and is trying to live an overall more balanced life, perhaps a Zen lifestyle. And of course, most importantly, is stylish,” said Bédat.
A first-year sales projection was not available. But Darabi noted, “Our first year out of the gate is to prove our theory, that a zeitgeist is forming and customers crave understanding of where their products come from.”
“It is perfectly analogous to what we experienced with the rise of the organic food movement over the past several years. For our first year, we will focus primarily on the sales of the inventory we have purchased, because we do hold our inventory in-house. Once we get through our first season of sales, we will make accurate projections for following quarters to come,” said Darabi.