Meet Liza Moiseeva, Co-Founder of GlobeIn
Russian entrepreneur Liza Moiseeva has an itch to stir up the social impact industry. After a chance encounter at a meetup in Moscow, she and co-founder Vladimir Ermakov set their sights on bringing ethics and sustainability to the subscription box space. We sat down with her to talk about this challenge, how conscious consumerism can transform a sector as notoriously unsustainable as subscription boxes, and how her company, GlobeIn, has partnered with artisans all over the world to have a local impact.
GlobeIn started From a fateful encounter at a local meetup in Moscow and is now a social enterprise that curates beautiful artisan-made lifestyle products. What was the inspiration behind GlobeIn?
GlobeIn was inspired by Muhammad Yunus, a Nobel Peace Prize Laureate. Muhammad was the “father” of microfinance and a big proponent of the idea that businesses can - and should - exist not just for the purpose of making money but also for the purpose of solving any given social issue.
We were also inspired by Kiva Microloans, where anyone can support small businesses and entrepreneurs around the world. Many of these entrepreneurs, we realized, are artisans. But while we as individual microinvestors could help them start their business, they still needed a platform to take them to the next level. We decided to build this platform.
You’ve spent your entire career in the social impact space, moving between for-profit businesses and nonprofit organizations to do good. Based on your experience from slow fashion and fair trade, what makes GlobeIn unique? What are you doing that no other entity is doing?
We are essentially the only company in the middle of the fair trade AND subscription box industries, which - you will agree - are intrinsically different from one another. The GlobeIn model is trying to take the best elements of each industry and use it for good: to scale the growth of small Artisan Box subscriptions, while also scaling the quantity of our orders with artisans to drive a bigger social impact.
What does the social impact industry look like in Russia right now? How is it evolving in response to globalization?
When I left Russia, the social impact industry was very small. At least I thought so. Most of the general population were effectively not aware of it at all. Things have definitely been moving forward though! Four years after I left Russia and started my online community for Russian-speaking social entrepreneurs, I could already notice a big change. More and more people started to get involved in social good projects, be it a charity, social business, or civic engagement. Today, the industry is becoming more and more prominent in the mainstream media as well with the help of Russian celebrities.
Tell us more about the subscription model. What trends are you noticing in conscious consumerism and how are you trying to respond?
We are responding to an overarching trend in the way that we consume things - people are much more conscious of why, how, what, and how much they consume.
I see more and more traditional subscription boxes start to include eco, green, sustainable, and, otherwise mission-driven products. Which is great news, and the fact is that consumer demand drove that! With their purchasing power and by showing their interests in buying products like the Artisan Box, they are changing the subscription box industry from the inside-out! There is a general shift towards sustainability as well. I am speaking on the sustainability panel at the upcoming Subscription Box Summit in Austin, and really look forward to see how the industry - that is inherently unsustainable, one might argue, with the nature of its frequent consumption habits - is planning to address this important issue.
You all clearly value partnership. From your partnership with co-Founder Vladimir Ermakov to artisan partners all over the world, GlobeIn is bringing talent together to create opportunities for all. How do you decide who to work with and what are you looking for in each relationship with your artisan partners?
Each Artisan Box is like a puzzle: all the products have to perfectly fit the theme, the feel, even the color scheme. We are very intentional with what types of products we choose: they have to be both practical, yet unique, sustainably-made but still appealing to the American consumer.
With all of our partners, our objective is always to build a long-term relationship. For example, we have been working with our weavers in Oaxaca, Mexico for over 3 years now. With each year our partnership grows: not only are we able to provide continuous employment to 40 artisans (we started with 2) but also we are constantly working on quality control and new product development so that we can grow our businesses together.
While lifestyle products are your particular medium for change, your company’s impact reaches far beyond that. What impact can your customers expect to have when they purchase a GlobeIn artisan box subscription?
Great question! Our primary impact is made through the fair wages that we pay artisans for their products. A fair wage goes a long way in remote regions of the world where our artisan partners are located, and usually translates to a better standard of living for the artisans and their families.
More often than not, however, our impact goes beyond the fair wage. For example, our order for the upcycled totes from Ghana has helped recycle 365,000 plastic water sachets from the streets of Accra. Another great example is the Vicky Tee that helps protect wildlife in Kenya!
All in all, we want our products to be ethical inside and out. GlobeIn is committed to investing not only in high-quality handmade products, but also in helping send children to school in Kenya or sponsoring a healthcare workshop in India. And we are very grateful to our partner organizations and our customers who are there to support us!
With so many options available to us, the choices and considerations can be very overwhelming. Tell us, what do you look for when you’re trying to purchase clothing and accessories responsibly and ethically?
I believe that the “easiest” seal of approval to look for in a clothing item is the Fair Trade Federation certification. But keep in mind that there are a lot of brands who are not certified, but still demonstrate incredible commitment to sustainability and transparency. I would look for words like “ethically made” or “made in the USA”, or “this product is made of 70% recycled materials”, etc. Seeing the faces of the artisans and garment workers on clothing tags also tells me a lot about the company. This tells me that this brand truly respects its workers and celebrates their achievements. That’s what we do with the Artisan Box!