Individual Producers for Sustainable Shopping: Ethikl Marketplace Interview


Fair trade, eco-friendly marketplaces are popping up all over the world, with Ethikl Marketplace one of the newest developments in Australia.  Peita Gardiman, green entrepreneur and founder of Ethikl Marketplace, is working hard to bring eco-friendly, socially-responsible products handmade by individual producers to the online marketplace. We were curious to about the benefits of working with individual artisans and how Peita hopes to change her part of the world by doing so.

Can you tell me a bit more about Ethikl? What inspired you to come up with the concept?

I founded Ethikl.com as a result of my own personal journey to become a conscious consumer. Following a realisation that the products I was using around my home and family were toxic and not trustworthy and that clever marketing was leading us to believe that we should consume more than we really need to.

I started to adopt a new way of thinking… where are the things coming from that I am using, and who am I buying them from? Where is it going to go when I’m done with it? How can I use things that already exist, instead of asking the planet to continually contribute more resources?

What main social or environmental problem are you trying to solve through Ethikl and how do you measure your success?

I believe that supporting cottage industries can be an effective vehicle for reducing waste, pollution, and curbing senseless mass production.  I’m confident this can be made a reality by the creative use of the internet. It’s a movement, a way to say ‘screw you’ to businesses that care more about profit than individuals, a thumbs down to the damage that happens when things are made negligently by greedy corporations seeking massive profits with little or no regard for the social and environmental impacts of their actions.

Is it more difficult to run a company with people-planet-profit as your guiding principle?

No, not for me, it is the whole reason why I am doing this. It is not like I was a traditional company who needed to change my methods to adapt to a new way. I started with the people-planet-profit as my guiding principle; I don’t know any other way.

Do artisans need to follow specific social or sustainability practices in order to benefit from your program?

We personally verify all the products on the marketplace and most are handpicked or discovered at local markets where we have had a chance to meet the artisan and learn about their products. In the future, we are planning to use a third party verification system as well as member feedback to make sure that products on the site fit into our strict eco criteria of being ethically made in some form.

How do artisans find Ethikl and become included on your site?

Ethikl is for small, independent artisans who produce high quality ethical products that have a positive impact on people and the planet. We connect producers with buyers looking to find the very best in handmade, upcycled, fair trade products. There are no listing fees, and no membership fees on Ethikl, simply a low 5% of the sales price. Therefore you pay nothing until you sell something. If you are interested in becoming a member of Ethikl you can register at www.ethikl.com or you can join our facebook page www.facebook.com/Ethikl.Marketplace .

Can Ethikl remain sustainable as it grows?

Yes absolutely, it will actually become more sustainable as we encourage more people to find innovative uses for things otherwise deemed as garbage. The more people that get involved, the more waste is diverted from landfills and the more consumers start to purchase ethical products.

Since you started, has your mission evolved and changed?

Ethikl is still in its early stages and as such we are evolving every day. We have oodles of plans for the future development and will continue to refine our concept. Our mission will always be to create positive change through commerce.

What’s the best thing about working with individual “makers”?

I am constantly inspired by what people can create. Like magic, they can take discarded material, things that others see as just garbage, and create unique, usable items that are aesthetically pleasing and moreover help ease the burden on our wounded planet.   I am personally inspired by the handmade and ethical consumer movement as it encourages us all to a take a step back from constantly buying “stuff” to supporting the act of creativity while also lessening our carbon footprint

How do you reach your target audience of green consumers?

We are utilising the huge potential of social media and word-of-mouth referrals. We have lots of ideas in the pipeline, but can’t give away all of our secrets just yet! What we can tell you is that we are looking for strategic partnerships and cross promotional opportunities. So far, social media and email marketing have produced the best results for us.

Is Ethikl self funded? Angel or VC funded?

To date we are self funded, but the future remains to be seen…

Are there any mistakes that you made on this entrepreneurial journey that you would like to share with other green entrepreneurs?

I think any entrepreneur is going to make heaps of mistakes, that is all part of the journey isn’t it? The best advice I can give (and I am by no means an expert) is spend the required time researching your idea first, start with a strong foundation that you can build on and keep some funds set aside for a rainy day. But more than anything…just keep going and be passionate about what you are doing. It gives you the energy you need if you are truly passionate about your idea.

You can connect with Peita on Facebook, through Twitter, and on foursquare.

This post was written by:

Maryruth Belsey Priebe

Maryruth has been seeking the keys to environmental justice - both at home and at work - for over a decade. Growing up adjacent to wild spaces, Maryruth developed a healthy respect (and whimsical appreciation) for things non-human, but her practical mind constantly draws her down to earth to ponder tangible solutions to complex eco-problems.

With interests that range from green living to green business, sustainable building designs to organic gardening practices, ecosystem restoration to environmental health, Maryruth has been exploring and writing about earth-matters for most of her life. Of special interest is the subject of ecopsychology and the role the natural world plays in the long-term health and well-being of humanity. You can learn more about Maryruth's work at www.JadeCreative.ca.


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