New York City-based Zady sells high-quality luxuriously-made goods that are timeless in style, at an approachable price point. Their mission is to help consumers understand the quality and origins of an item, and support brands that create timeless products utilizing craftsmanship and artisanship– qualities that have been sacrificed in a world of cheap prices, fast production, and throwaway consumption- to encourage the notion that a wardrobe should be built over time, and made to last. Five percent of every sale will benefit Zady’s non-profit partner, The Bootstrap Project (TBP), which works to promote and revive centuries-old crafts and customs around the world. Here, Maxine Bédat, co-founder and CEO of Zady discusses the website's concept. By Lorenzo Molina

Please, explain briefly your personal & professional background.
I have a background in international law and diplomacy and served as a legal clerk for the U.N. From there I went on to create The Bootstrap Project, a non-profit organization that works with entrepreneurs in the developing world.

When and how was the Zady concept brought to life?
It all started with conversations around the Bootstrap Project. We fell in love with the process of how things are made, and became somewhat addicted to removing the veil. We started Zady by bringing together brands that were creating beautiful clothing and wanted to share their story.

What are the best-performing brands within your portfolio? Why do you think they are successful?
We started creating our own products, known as The Essentials Collection, as a test to find where the environmental implication lie. The items of The Essentials Collection were an instant success! The first two items sold out during their first two installments. As with all Zady products, you can learn all about the sourcing and production as we follow the process from the very beginning, starting with the farm or the ranch, which results in a product that is both chic in style conscious in production.

What are the criteria that a brand has to fulfill in order to be distributed in your
platform? How do you check if the brand truly acts according to these standards?
We do a lot of research and talk to a lot of people. The main factor we take into consideration is the careful selection of which fibers to use, and we find the biggest challenge we face is that many people are misinformed.

Let’s talk about your own clothing range –where do you manufacture the products and how much percent of total sales does it represent?
As we expand The Essentials Collection, we are sourcing and producing products all over the world. We started in the U.S. with our first two products as we wanted to prove responsible production can, in fact, be done entirely in our own country. From there, we exclusively look to countries that have fair and enforced labor and environmental laws to ensure our products are being produced in an ethical, as well as beautiful, way.

Sustainability is a good approach, but not a new one though. From an industry point of view, how do you think we could engage the mass of consumers into sustainable clothing?
The fashion industry is the second most polluting industry in the world, second only to the energy sector. We feel it’s more important than ever to look closely at the materials we are wearing and to listen to the stories our fabrics tell. We use storytelling as the powerful tool to engage our customers, and we have seen it work extremely well.

How would you describe the Zady customer?
Zady  consumers are conscious and informed. They care about the stories beyond their decisions and are living a more mindful life. Perhaps they are doing their weekly shopping at the locals farmer’s market, or taking part in yoga and meditation. They want to live a better life in a better world. For these people, Zady offers a better, more informed and transparent choice by sharing the stories behind our items, showcasing how every step of the process is valued, and tied inextricably to the final product.

What are the imminent plans of the platform in order to expand? Are you thinking on a permanent brick-and-mortar retail spot?
We are very excited to continue expanding The Essentials Collection with new products for women, and soon men as well. We have hosted several successful brick-and-mortar retail locations and will continue to look for new opportunities to connect with our consumers in person again very soon.