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Las Vegas Conference Speaker Soraya Darabi on The Future of Commerce

Soraya Darabi’s post-Foodspotting venture, Zady, aims to captivate consumers with a combination of stylish products, well-reported stories and transparent supply chains.

By Lorraine Sanders (Contributing Writer, Women 2.0)

If Soraya Darabi, has her way, “Where did you get that?” would have a much more detailed answer than the name of your favorite online shop or neighborhood boutique. Maybe you’d also know the name of the mill where your jeans were made or the very art exhibit that inspired your t-shirt’s designer to finally launch her own line.

“People are starting to expect a deep story and a reason to buy a product,” says the former New York Times social media strategist.

You’ll find both alongside nearly every product on Zady, the New York-based ecommerce company Darabi launched with high school classmate and The Bootstrap Project founder Maxine Bédat in July.

According to Zady’s Facebook page, Zady encourages transparent supply chains and aims to put the quality back in constructed goods:

“…customers can learn about the conscious consumer movement and purchase beautifully-constructed goods that were created with craftsmanship and artisanship – qualities that have been sacrificed in a world of cheap prices and fast production.”

Darabi, an “authority on digital commerce,” comes to Zady having led the New York Times social media team (hired on at age 23). She was also a product lead for drop.io and co-founder of Foodspotting, a popular mobile app restaurant guide. The digital media maven shares with us her thoughts on the future of commerce.

Transparent Supply Chains

Items ranging from Steven Alan button downs to Shinola notebooks and Imogene + Willie denim appear alongside detailed write-ups of the family-run companies, independent designers and socially-responsible suppliers involved along products’ journey from the mill or factory floor to the racks. Knowing a product’s origins is so important, Darabi says, that Zady only sells items from companies with transparent supply chains.

The Conscious Consumer

“Ultimately, we’re for a consumer called the conscious consumer,” she says.

Just as increasing numbers of consumers care about the origins of their food, Zady’s founders are betting that a certain set of shoppers will be equally as willing to opt for apparel, accessories and items for the home that come with positive underpinnings such as eco-friendly materials or garment construction that lasts years instead of a single season.

“It’s not about buying more. It’s about buying better things,” says Darabi, who worked in digital and social media marketing for the New York Times before co-founding Foodspotting, an application acquired earlier this year by Open Table.

Given her experience building audiences, it should come as no surprise that Darabi is working hard to make Zady more than just a shopping destination. Along with stylish, mid-market inventory sold at what Darabi describes as “J.Crew prices,” the site features stories, original images, personal essays and interviews such as a recent Q&A with Times photo editor Lindsay Blatt.

Future Commerce

Polished editorial content to round out and complement the shopping experience on Zady reflects Darabi’s commitment to content marketing, something she thinks we’ll see more of in the future. But that’s not the only trend she pinpoints when asked about the future of ecommerce.

She’s also expecting more success stories from mobile-based commerce companies and digital-first brands.

“It’s growing very, very rapidly, and I think we’re going to see a lot more,” she says.

Editor’s note: Did you know Foodspotting started at the 2008 Women 2.0 Startup Weekend, after designer Alexa Andrzejewski pitched the idea for Foodspotting (and some great visual mockups of the product in Photoshop)? She walked away from the hackathon with her first angel investor.

Want to hear more from Darabi? Buy your tickets to the Women 2.0 Conference – Las Vegas today. Regular bird prices go up at 11:55 p.m. PDT!

lorraine headshotAbout the blogger: Lorraine Sanders is a journalist, blogger and media consultant. She is the author of the San Francisco Chronicle Style Bytes column and writes regularly for FastCompany.com and others. She is founder of the blog Digital Style Digest and an inhabitant of the San Francisco Writers Grotto. Connect with her @digitalstyledig or @lorrainesanders.