Bona Kim

Fairflair is a platform that promotes ethical brands who work with artisans in developing countries.


Fairflair is comprised with three parts, showcasing the brands through aggregated media, offering crowd-sourced solutions and educating consumers.

Brands can showcase their products through stories of the artisans with the media featured on Fairflair. For those organizations that do not have impactful content can utilize image based social media such as Instagram and vine. The content generated from these tools are displayed under related brands’ profile.

Each month, Fairflair runs an event specifically tailored to an organization in need of help. An example of such events is an interactive game to help an artisan design a necklace. These events also offer an opportunity for the audience to participate further beyond purchase and to feel connected to the brands and artisans.

Additionally, Fairflair features articles and links that further explain the larger context on how a consumer’s everyday decision impacts the global community.

I interviewed 4 nonprofit organization leaders who work with artisans in developing countries, 2 owners of retailers whose focus is bringing ethically made goods and 8 user testers who helped honing the interface and the concept. I read a book, Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion by Elizabeth L. Cline, had an advising session with tech start up entrepreneur and conducted initial comparative research on 98 organizations that are part of Artisans Alliance at Aspen Institute. For the hypothesis which didn't get incorporated into the final thesis, I interviewed 2 independent business owners at Etsy, 3 avid travelers whose travel periods last longer than a year, one expat and one frequent business traveler.

There are three audience groups: socially conscious consumers in search of great products and brands, the artisans who make the product and brands offer the resources and guidance to the artisans. However, the brands and artisans that are promoted on Fairflair have symbiotic relationship, so they can be considered as one group. The standards for selecting the brands are rigorous and include three major points: protection of the earth, protection of the culture and protection of the human rights. The brands should be able to demonstrate that they are ecologically friendly in both the materials they source and the process they go through. The artisans should be fairly compensated and work in humane condition. The brands should incorporate the traditional artistry from artisans’ culture into their design and foster the artisans’ community so that in a long run artisans can manufacture sustainably by themselves.

User Scenario
The socially conscious consumers come to Fairflair to find ethically made fashion items, read stories of the artisans and watch videos of artisans' making process.

If they like the products featured on the same page, they can click the product link to be redirected to the brand's site to make the purchase.

The site is made of wordpress or square space and incorporate Instagram API widget. I will build chrome extension for multiple people to easily submit related content.

I've learned tremendously about the subject matter, the current situation of artisans in developing countries and nonprofit organizations working with artisans. I’ve learned that their needs are extensive and differentiated according to the countries and organizations.

I’ve also learned that the organization with the best practices still need a lot of help in driving traffic because it’s still a marginal section of the whole fashion industry.

Further more, I’ve learned that there are people who feel inclined to know more about larger context, but the information is complicated and not centralized.

Also, there is a demand of vetting brands in order to differentiate the good ones from the ones that are advertising as ethical. However, vetting brands are extremely difficult within fashion industry due to its complexity.