It's hard to say exactly when the turning point was, that precise moment when more and more of us started caring about where our food came from and became aware of just how it is that we are fueling ourselves, but even if it's hard to say when exactly things changed, it's impossible to deny that things have changed. In Brooklyn alone, the rise of farmers' markets and the inclusion of the provenance of individual ingredients on a restaurant's menu is evidence that people are willing to change their purchasing habits in order to contribute to the greater good of responsible consumption. However, while many people have shown a great willingness to change what they put in their bodies, there hasn't been as large of a movement to change the things we put on our bodies.
Think about it, how many people do you know who wouldn't hesitate when it comes to spending extra money on Fair Trade coffee, but feel victorious about the shirt they got on sale at H&M for only $10? In the exact same way that cheap, fast food is unhealthy (both for our health and for the exploitative practices that allow it to be sold at such a low price point), cheap, fast fashion is bad for the health of both the local and global fashion industry. As we all saw with the horrific factory collapse in Bangladesh last spring that claimed the lives of over a thousand garment workers, the discounts that we get as shoppers are paid for by others in ways that are awful to truly contemplate. But in the exact same way that the local, sustainable food movement needed to find a way to appeal to the masses and make it convenient to purchase things in an ethical and mindful manner, there needs to be a way to aggregate the many sources of locally sourced and handmade products that are for sale.
And that's where Zady comes in. Founded by Soraya Darabi (founder of Foodspotting) and Maxine Bédat (founder of The Bootstrap Project), Zady is a site where consumers will be guaranteed to find products that meet the stringent criteria that Darabi and Bédat have laid out, namely that items will have manufacturing transparency (each company that is featured on Zady has been personally vetted by Darabi and Bédat and must sign a contract promising to uphold their high standards of production) while also having approachable price points and, perhaps most importantly, will just look good. The site, which launches at the end of this month, will feature several Brooklyn designers, including Williamsburg jewelry brand Scosha, designer Tracey Tanner, and designer Kika. Beyond Brooklyn-based designers, the site will host companies like Nashville-based denim designers Imogene & Willie and Detroit-based company Shinola, among many others.
It shouldn't feel revolutionary to shop in a responsible and conscious way, but it has yet to become intuitive in the same way that eating responsibly has. And so a company like Zady, which make conscientious consumerism easy and enjoyable, is essential to changing the way that we all think about where our money goes. Plus, well, the companies that Zady works with make some of the most covetable goods available, so much in the way that eating organically really took off once the stigma of healthy eating as being only brown rice and tofu was replaced by an aesthetically pleasing image of vibrantly colored farm fresh produce, shopping responsibly is more fun when what's available is beautiful and stylish, as well as being manufactured in an ethical manner. Basically, doing good has never felt—or looked—better.
Preview Zady at zady.com
Follow Kristin Iversen on twitter @kmiversen