CONSCIOUS CAPITALISTS: A Talk with Soraya Darabi, Cofounder Zady

 Soraya Darabi

Soraya Darabi

Soraya, who has about 400,000 followers on Twitter, is a pioneer of social media. She started her career as the Manager of Digital Partnerships and Social Media for the New York Times, where created a presence on multiple social media platforms, such as Facebook, Youtube, and Twitter, and taught her coworkers how to leverage social media. She is now a speaker for APB Speakers and World Economic Forum. Soraya created Zady, a clothing company with a conscience, in 2012 with childhood friend Maxine Bédat.

Did you travel a lot when you were younger? How do you think you think your travels impacted your perspective?

I come from a global family.  My father lives in the Middle East and my mother and sister both travel(ed) internationally for work.  Even though my parents didn't have gobs of money, growing up travel was prioritized and we found crafty ways to see the world.  I've gone to the Great Wall of China with my mother, on safari with my sister and to Morocco with my father -- and these memories of exploration are the greatest memories in the world.  Maxine, my fellow co-founder, had a very similar upbringing and our shared passion for understanding the world at large, and an inherent fascination with how great craft came to be is why we began Zady.


How do you define fast-fashion? What do you think is so appealing about it?

 Zady's Green Palm Art Jacket

Zady's Green Palm Art Jacket

Fast-fashion is fad based fashion, products made quickly and cheaply based on popular runway trends.  To me, fast-fashion has another connotation - it represents garment workers treated poorly, paid almost nothing to produce items sold inexpensively at big box retailers.

Why do you think it’s so important to fight fast-fashion?

Beyond protecting the rights of workers around-the globe, to me fast-fashion also represents water waste and water toxicity, as a third of the world's water pollution derives from the apparel and textile business.  Basically, this means the rate at which we are producing products is far too rushed, and not at all good for the only planet we've got.  The time is now to return to the ways of slow fashion, to focus on process and craftsmanship. To own stylish, timeless pieces made to last -- and to buy fewer but better made items.   This is how we will fight back.

Can you talk about how social media can be leveraged to help causes like Zady’s?

 Zady's Josephina Weekender

Zady's Josephina Weekender

The era of brands telling consumers what they should like because a sexy model is wearing or holding up said item is over.  Plain and simple.  Social media has radicalized the world and the brands that will succeed will leverage it to build community and most importantly, to truly listen to their community.  When our community speaks to us and asks us to carry, for instance, dog products made in the USA because they'd like their pets to live the Zady lifestyle, we listen. To some that could seem like a silly request.  At Zady it kicked off a conversation with our buying team about how to pay close attention to instagram for cues as to what we should look at for seasons to come.

How do you think the fast-paced, like social media, and the slow-paced, like slow-fashion, come together to find harmony?

The world is actually slowing down.  Attention is shifting, I think, from the fastest social networks (twitter) to creative networks (like instagram).  Fast-fashion is an addiction like any other. I came off of it.  Today I have a closet full of only the essentials items I need to live and work, a small loft apartment with few products but a fridge full of photograph of truly enjoyed experiences.  My friends have the same. It feels like the beginning of an exciting movement - a bold new era of consciousness.

Follow Soraya on Twitter at @sorayadarabi or reach out to Zady at @Zady.

Join Zady's movement and take a stand here.





Samantha is an Art History and Visual Arts major at Columbia University. She is currently the Content Intern for CATALYST and is also interning at Matthew Studios. She has a passion for travel and helping communities.