Gone are the days when tech isn’t glamorous. Honored as two of the most fashionable people in tech, Soraya Darabi and Maxine Bédat are merging the two fields. Founding ZADY.com, they have created a shopping platform for socially conscious fashion consumers. With the goal of doing what Whole Foods has done for the organic food movement, ZADY is helping consumers know exactly where their products come from and make more informed choices. And they’re going about it pretty impressively. ZADY is the first online retailer to merge commerce, media and social media into a smooth and dynamic shopping experience. You hear the story of what you’re buying and the behind the craftmanship.
How did it come about? Soraya and Maxine have been long time friends and share a passion for socially conscious endeavors. Maxine is founder of The Bootstrap Project, where 5% of proceeds from ZADY purchases are designated to helping artisans. Maxine and Soraya merged their backgrounds to create something amazing.
Soraya has long been a strong player in the tech sector. Starting out as Manager of Digital Partnerships and Social Media at The New York Times, she transformed the NYT into a digital global news leader and taught journalists and chief executives alike how to best use and leverage social media. Think it’s overblown? Renowned Times columnist Nicholas Kristof credits her as being “the only reason why he has [millions] of followers on Twitter.”
Soraya also served time helping launch drop.io, followed by Foodspotting. And she’s a regular feature on the tech scene’s listicles, being included in Fast Company’s “Most Creative People in Business,” Brandweek’s “Hot Digital,” Inc. Magazine’s “30 Under 30,” and AdAge’s “25 People in Media to Follow on Twitter.”
“It’s all part of the movement of the ‘conscious consumer.’ In the past decade, our collective buying decisions put enough pressure on the food industry to make major waves in revolutionizing it. We’ve opened our pantries for examination and have demanded better — now is the time to open our overflowing closets. We’ll look and feel better if we do.”
Co-founder Maxine (Kaye) Bédat is another trailblazer. Maxine brings to the table an impressive background in diplomacy and the United Nations. In addition, Maxine is the force behind The Bootstrap Project, an organization dedicated to changing the lives of artisans in developing countries. The Bootstrap Project was borne out Maxine’s experience in Tanzania for the United Nation’s International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. It was there that Maxine broadened her understanding of economic development in underdeveloped nations.
In a powerful example, Maxine shares a story from her travels in Swaziland. There, she met Thembenkile, a local craftswoman who made beautiful, meticulously carved wooden dishes. The trade had been passed down through Thembenkile’s family, from father to father to her. When Maxine inquired why she stopped passing down this legacy, the response resonated: “No one will buy my things,” Thembenkile said. “My people can only pay for plastic that comes to us from far away, so my kids don’t have a reason to learn.” Thus, The Bootstrap Project was born.
We’re thrilled to have this dynamic duo taking the stage this February. Grab your pass to join us here.