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Business with Purpose


Sep 26, 2018

When you hear the term “ethical,” what does it mean to you? When I ask different people, different people give me different definitions. I think everyone’s idea of “ethical company” may mean something different, like maybe how they treat animals, or the materials they use and how it impacts the planet, or maybe it’s about how they treat the people that work for them. I think that the definition of “ethical” is ever-changing and ever-evolving, and I think that’s a good thing! My guest this week is Sydney Sherman, the founder of Faire--an online marketplace that connects conscious consumers with ethical brands and artisans. I loved hearing Sydney’s story and I can’t wait for you to dive in with us. HEARTSTRINGS, TRAVEL, AND A BRIGHT IDEA Sydney had always wanted to travel (she has now been to over 40 countries!), and simultaneously had always felt her heartstrings pulled by impoverished individuals. It was during an around-the-world trip that she really felt herself come into her own and become who she is today. She was so interested in learning about other cultures and meeting people from the countries she visited. Of all the places she toured, it was India that struck her most. The level of poverty was incredibly disturbing to her. It was so pervasive and unlike any poverty she had ever seen. At the same time, she saw so many beautiful crafts. It struck her that there must be a more sustainable way to eradicate extreme poverty. She knew then that she wanted to use business as the tool to uplift these impoverished individuals and help them take back their own destinies. After tossing around a lot of ideas, Sydney settled on the idea of creating an ethical marketplace. WHAT ETHICAL MEANS TO ME: WRITE IT DOWN AND THEN SHARE IT Safe working conditions, fair wages, and environmentally sustainable: that is how Sydney defines the term “ethical.” While coming up with her business plan after crafting her definition of “ethical,” she realized the difficulty and enormity of the task at hand. She decided to write everything down, and then share it. Every individual that she spoke with helped shape her business plan, and helped increase her confidence--something that is so crucial for new entrepreneurs. THE TARGET APPROACH: NOT ABOUT PERFECTION Sydney believes that the key to becoming ethically-minded--both as a business and as a person--is not about perfection, it is about trying your best, committing, and starting small. These are the changes that count, and becoming “ethical” does not have to be a complete transformation overnight. The way to bring people into the “ethical” fold is to be compassionate, rather than judgemental. We are all on the same team as long as we are supportive and caring about one another. The definition of ethical will continue to evolve and change, and that is a good thing. She plans to help individuals achieve this by expanding their offerings on their website, allowing customers to purchase everything from toothpaste to homewares. About Sydney Sherman, Founder of Faire: Before starting Faire, Sydney built and ran a small business that linked administrative assistants with local start-ups, nonprofits and other clients in the Austin, Texas area. Before that, Sydney worked for a small advertising company, and ran Monty & Joie, a dress company she started in college. Sydney has volunteered doing environmental/wildlife conservation in Cambodia, and throughout Texas, with organizations like Refugee Services of Texas. She also mentors high school girls through ChickTech, an Austin non-profit dedicated to retaining women in the technology workforce and increasing the number of women and girls pursuing technology-based careers. Sydney earned her BS in Advertising and Business Foundations at UT-Austin, and studied Media and Global Change at the Salzburg Academy in Austria. She earned her MBA from the Acton School of Business. CONNECT WITH SYDNEY

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