Zady Founders Soraya Darabi and Maxine Bédat Talk Conscious Consumerism

Learn how Soraya Darabi and Maxine Bédat joined forces to provide an alternative to fast fashion and why both founders believe "love" and execution are essential to success.

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In the latest installment of Savvy Startups, a series highlighting the personal and professional journeys of some of the most dynamic entrepreneurs, YFS Magazine speaks with Soraya Darabi and Maxine Bédat, co-founders of ‘conscious’ e-commerce brand Zady.

High school friends Soraya Darabi and Maxine Bédat met, over a decade ago, in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Little did the two women know they would reconnect a decade later, via Facebook, grab coffee and find common ground yet again — in the startup world.

In June 2012, Foodspotting co-founder Soraya Darabi, 29, and Maxine Bédat, 30, of The Bootstrap Project, started the ideation of what will soon be known as Zady, a New York-based ethical fashion startup slated to launch August 27.

Once the two entrepreneurs reconnected they hit it off immediately. Darabi, a former Manager of Digital Partnership and Social-Media Marketing at The New York Times, took interest in The Bootstrap Project, a non-profit Maxine began while in law school at Columbia University. Darabi was later brought on as a digital adviser.

Darabi recalls, “During those first few months of working together we realized a few things … First, that we really enjoy working together and … [second] we shared a mutual interest and passion for understanding how supply chain works.”

The two women soon realized that at the intersection of fashion and ethical consumption was an opportunity to create a for-profit business. One that mirrored The Bootstrap Project’s goal to empower world-class artisans working to end their own poverty and spoke to their mutual entrepreneurship goals.

Zady was created to meet the needs of “people like us who are curious, yet confused, as to how they can get information about how their products were made,” says Darabi.


Zady.com; Source: Courtesy Photo
Zady.com; Source: Courtesy Photo

Take a closer look at Zady and you will find that Darabi and Bédat’s proposition, to ethically source beautiful items from around the world, makes the fledgling fashion brand unique. Unlike many e-commerce shopping portals, Zady has a conscious; and a mission to empower consumers to make ethically informed fashion choices. The shopping and lifestyle destination is distinctly designed for discerning customers who care about the origins of the items they purchase.

According to reports, Zady has raised $1.35 million to-date. Darabi and Bédat will undoubtedly use the capital injection to solidify the startup’s role within the conscious consumer movement and raise the bar for sustainable design and production.

Their passion to promote positive buying through the sale of ethical products is tied to a much larger issue, known as Conscious Consumerism. And “unlike the myriad issues about which one can be passionate, [it] is one that is universal,” according to Piper Hendricks, President and Executive Director of p.h. balanced films, in Unsectored.

“Unless you have stepped out of the global economy completely and are now 100% self-sustaining, you are a consumer and thus you, through your purchases, are supporting the practices of your company of choice. But what are you supporting?,” says Hendricks.

Learn how Soraya Darabi and Maxine Bédat joined forces to provide an alternative to fast fashion and why both founders believe “love” and execution are essential to success.

Company: Zady
Founders: Soraya Darabi and Maxine Bédat
Location: New York, NY
Industry: Retail
Startup Year: 2012
Startup Costs: Undisclosed


How We Got Started

SD: Maxine and I have known each other since high school. We met in Minneapolis, Minnesota — where we are both from. We lost touch, as a lot of people do after high school, but reconnected thanks to social media, thanks to Facebook in particular. Both of us had read articles about what the other one was doing professionally and got really excited to reconnect.

We later got together for coffee, mainly to talk about The Bootstrap Project, the non-profit Maxine started while she was in law school at Columbia University. I loved hearing about The Bootstrap Project because it was so different from what I was doing with my career, which was mostly in digital media (i.e. social media and digital partnerships for The New York Times) and then moving on to become the co-founder of a startup called Foodspotting which we sold to OpenTable last year.

Editors Note: Opentable, the online restaurant booking service, acquired Foodspotting for $10 million in January of 2013. The mobile app lets users record and link to what they’re eating in restaurants and at home.

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