Asia’s first ethical subscription box is here, and we want to give it to everyone for Christmas
Singapore start-up Sonder Social is the dream of three women on a mission to give a bigger voice to small social enterprises in Asia. Their subscription boxes, fillled with unique Fair Trade and handmade pieces sourced from communities all around Asia Pacific, have important stories behind them that need to be heard. And we’re calling it: this is the go-to Christmas gift idea for those of us who want to shop with good intent, support ethical brands, and give meaningfully.
Sonder Social’s ‘Gratitude’ Box (pictured top) contains six full-size premium items, including a ring made in Mumbai by young women rescued from sex trafficking; a pillowcase woven in by an artisan in Vietnam; Pili nuts farmed by independent farmers in the Philippines; reusable beeswax wraps made by women in Thailand; clay magnets crafted by artisans with a disability; and a beautiful Fair Trade silk cotton shawl. You can subscribe quarterly or annually from USD79, inclusive of free shipping. (Pssst: read on for USD25 off your first box!)
Sonder Social’s three founders, Syafiqah Omar, Sing-Suen Soon and Azi Fuad have backgrounds in television, social innovation anddesign, and connected through time spent with the Singapore Committee for UN Women – and their shared passion for advocacy work. We spoke to the trio about their big dreams that come in a box…
What was the lightbulb moment for you to create Sonder Social?
Syafiqah: When we realised that there are so many small social enterprises in Asia Pacific doing amazing and meaningful work, but lack the proper channels to advertise their products, we knew we could come up with a way to bring their purposeful products closer to consumers here…
Sing-Suen: A lot of intentional research has to be done at the moment to get socially impactful products here in Asia, and we thought to eliminate these barriers for regional brands and shoppers by putting together collections that can easily be gifted or used. And since all three of us come from the visual and written communications backgrounds, we decided to optimise our strengths through storytelling.
Azi: There wasn’t really a single lightbulb moment: every interaction with inspiring people and social enterprise planted a seed to do more, reach more. Being in the non-profit line of work was also a constant reminder of the realities and that more can and should be done.
What makes this project so meaningful for you?
Syafiqah: Knowing that Sonder Social allows socially responsible businesses to continue providing work for various individuals struggling in the world of exploitation, fast fashion, heavily-processed food and dying craftsmanship is extremely gratifying.
Sing-Suen: The vision to band socially impactful brands together and allow the space for more shoppers to explore purchasing purposefully is really exciting. There’s more than one way to support a cause, and we want to surprise even ourselves the expansiveness of going conscious.
Azi: Working with social enterprises, empowering local communities, especially the small growing enterprises, is amazing, because we get to see the people and know their stories.
Can you share one of your favourite stories behind the products inside the box?
Syafiqah: Each of the items carry diverse stories of endurance and empowerment! But if I really have to choose, I’d say partnering with Purpose Jewelry has been one of my most favourite endeavours. In our current Gratitude Box, you’ll find a knot ring: it’s made by Purpose Jewelry, based in Mumbai, India, which helps women who were rescued from sex trafficking. Every item carries the individual name of the maker, and it really feels like you are connecting with her and carrying their story of survival and hope.
Sing-Suen: One of the items in this series is by a clay training social entrepreneur I met when buying his craft materials. He gave me a beautiful clay item as a thank you, and told me about his training workshops for people with disabilities that exercise motor skills. The intricate clay gift bore the Chinese character for “gratitude”, which happens to be the theme we were putting together for our inaugural launch, and we knew we had to have the items in our collection. Each clay piece is hand molded by a lady with cerebral palsy, and this project provides her with meaningful employment and income.
Azi: This is a tough question, I love all the products and each story behind each product is different so it is really incomparable! One of the items in the box has been woven by the ethnic Cham weaving villages in Vietnam who are struggling to retain their traditional weaving practices. Our partner works with these villages to create modern pieces with traditional designs and create sustainable products. Through this, they create jobs for local weavers and connect people to these cultures.
Want to give meaningfully this Christmas? Sonder Social is sharing a special USD $20 discount off your first box when you use the promo code HONEYCOMBERS20 at checkout when you shop at http://www.sondersocial.com.
Like this story? Check these out too:
Our guide to ethical fashion in Singapore
Are you leaning towards natural, organic beauty and skincare?
Pass it on: where to donate your pre-loved goods in Singapore
And give back to your community: here’s where to volunteer this Christmas
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