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In this Q&A series, we catch up with Sophie Brunner, the founder and creative director of the popular ethical and sustainable marketplace Urbankissed.
She takes us behind the scenes of the online shop, and we discuss the challenges she faced and the inspiration behind Urbankissed.
Hello! Can you tell us a bit about yourself and which brand you run?
Hi, I’m Sophie, founder of the sustainable and ethical online marketplace Urbankissed!
Urbankissed is a beautifully curated online shop run by women, not by algorithms, and offers sustainable and ethical lifestyle products.
Alongside clothes and bags made of sustainable and innovative materials are a selection of natural beauty products, eco-friendly shoes, active- & swimwear, handcrafted homeware, and jewelry made with recycled material that will get you excited about a mindful urban way of living.
Urbankissed invites you to immerse yourself in its carefully curated online destination to discover the art of slow living and shop from a selection of the best conscious fashion favorites and innovative upcoming brands.
What inspired you to start a sustainable online marketplace?
My passion for conscious fashion was ignited after realizing the devastating effects of fast fashion and when I couldn’t find any platform mixing affordable, trendy, and sustainable goods with an interactive customer experience back in 2017.
This realization triggered the launch of one of the first conscious and curated online destinations to shop sustainable and ethical but trendy and affordable products, offering a harmonious balance between conscious and delightful consumption.
I launched Urbankissed during my Fashion Business studies in London and Milan in 2017 after working in the financial sector. After completing my studies, I focused on making Urbankissed the best it could be full-time. Now, we’re based in Lucerne, Switzerland, and we’re a very small but highly motivated team of female entrepreneurs.
We focus mainly on small to medium-sized brands, as they usually have very short supply chains. This allows us to monitor them more easily, and they can be improved very quickly if needed.
We also enable purchasing directly from the source. This way, we avoid a warehouse full of unsold merchandise and instead offer the latest collections from a wide selection of curated & mindful small brands that do an actual dance when you buy from us!
In addition, we place great emphasis on the art of “slow living” to consume consciously. We create a new connection between the products and the consumer so that you can enjoy our items for years to come. Most of our products are not cheap but have the right retail prices to pay and produce fairly and have the right quality to make our products last.
What were the main challenges and learnings you had when starting Urbankissed?
I developed this marketplace by myself without having deep knowledge in website development. However, I taught myself all the necessary skills, which took a lot of perseverance.
Another challenge was that I had to build everything alone in the beginning without a team. In the meantime, our team has grown to four people, and we can exchange ideas on scaling and improving our marketplace.
The implementation of our “Slow & Ethical” index, which defines 15 criteria along the value chain for a transparent and standardized sustainable product offering, was also very time-consuming.
With Greenwashing being a big issue in today’s fashion industry, how do you ensure brands you partner with are truly ethical and sustainable?
While there is a lot to be excited about when it comes to Urbankissed, one highlight we love is our “Slow & Ethical Index,” which customers can filter through while shopping. The index includes 15 standards along the supply chain, which every product goes through before making the cut. Every single product goes through this index, which makes our process unique. We verify our brands at the product level, not just brands as a whole.
This index not only serves as a verifier for sustainable and ethical brands but also provides transparency to our consumers so that they can make their own value judgments.
We each place importance on different values for the clothes that we own. There are options for those who want clothes made of only natural materials, plastic-free pieces, vegan handbags, or clothes handmade by empowered artisans.
Because we are drop-shipping, we can focus on our core business of sourcing and verifying truly sustainable and ethical brands. Urbankissed has done all the research for you. All of the brands we stock are carefully vetted to ensure that they embody several values in our well-trusted Slow & Ethical Index. Choosing the carefully selected products will make you feel good as they bring us a step closer to a healthier planet and empower people.
Being an online marketplace offering worldwide shipping, how do ensure it is as eco-friendly as possible?
As a crucial step for the environment, Urbankissed offsets the carbon emissions of all deliveries. We take it one step further and aim for carbon-neutral selling by planting trees in our company forest in Madagascar.
We also do not offer free returns for most of our products as our planet suffers the consequences of returns. Instead, we provide very detailed size measurements for all products, an online chat, and much more to help our customers as much as we can to make the right and conscious choice so that they will cherish their products forever.
Do you have a favourite sustainable brand that you think our audience should know about?
There’s nothing that gets us more excited than fashion innovation, especially when it comes to innovation in textiles!
For example, we absolutely love our wide range of vegan shoes made of pineapples, grape, and cactus leather.
It is also fascinating to see how much our audience loves our lingerie made with a lot of love and cheeky laughs in South Africa. Since then, we have been stocking this collection from the very beginning, and it has been one of our bestsellers.
Not forgetting our swimwear collection, made of fashion’s favorite eco-friendly and recycled fabric, Econyl – marine plastic waste – cannot be missed!
What does the future look like for Urbankissed?
Recent events in the fashion industry have clearly shown that we are only at the beginning of it all.
Therefore, we want to increase awareness and support as many small brands as possible, offer the best brands from different regions of the world, and provide the right balance between international and local shopping from conscious brands.
To scale and strengthen conscious brands, we are looking to strengthen our team even more. Through growth and awareness, we hope to pressure larger fast fashion brands to rethink their production processes and change the status quo for the better.
Wrapping Up: Q&A Urbankissed
We want to give a big thank you to Sophie for taking time to talk to us about her fantastic brand Urbankissed.
Make sure you check out Urbankissed’s online marketplace and let us know if you have any feedback in the comments below!