12.09.17

The Power Duo Behind Online Store Fairlings Is Bringing Veganism Mainstream

Emily Uebergang

Brought to you by Fairlings

What started out as an offshoot from vegetarianism back in 1944, veganism has grown into something so much more than a countercultural food movement. For many followers, veganism is a way of life.

Whether you care to label it as ethical veganism or something else, the premise remains. It’s a lifestyle that takes a strong stance against the use of animals for any purpose. What this does is extend the philosophy into other areas of life, moving beyond dietary choices to cruelty-free beauty and cleaning products, clothing and accessories.

You can, quite literally, turn your whole home vegan.

“We want Fairlings to be a safe shop that stands against animal testing, only uses ingredients that are plant derived where possible and will always be 100% vegan.”

Making this lifestyle simpler to adopt and maintain, is the online vegan shop Fairlings which brings together some of the highest quality and scrupulously sourced natural, vegan skincare products and everyday eco home essentials.

Founders, Michael and Masa Ofei, are two such examples of minimalist vegans who live and breathe this philosophy of cruelty-free consumption and minimalism. And now, they’ve successfully translated this passion into a business.

A Compassionate Cause

Australia is now the 3rd fastest growing markets for vegan products in the world according to research conducted by Euromonitor International. In Australia, the word ‘vegan’ is searched in Google more than anywhere else in the world.

It’s documentaries like ‘Earthlings’ which has been the catalyst for many conversions to the lifestyle. This was the case for Michael and Masa who went vegan overnight after watching it. As you can probably tell, it also inspired the Fairlings name. Prior to the business, they openly shared their own journey on their personal blog, The Minimalist Vegan, where they still regularly post about veganism, recipes, minimalism and share guest posts.

During these first few years, Michael and Masa were constantly frustrated in not being able to find the type of products they wanted to use and brands they wanted to support. Rather than wait around for someone else to come up with a solution, the duo created their own online store.

“The reason we started Fairlings was because we often had to shop at multiple health food stores or niche online shops to get simple items such as shampoo and tooth paste that met our standards of organic, vegan, eco-friendly and fair trade. We thought that surely others have this same issue.”

fairlings vegan

They now have a loyal customer base that love their concept and ethos. These are fellow Australians who want better for themselves, the animals and the planet. Fairlings provides a solution at the intersection of these three.

On Maintaining Standards

The Fairlings business model is commendable. They go above and beyond to vet every single product and ingredient to ensure it adheres to their high standard of ethics. You can read more about their selection criteria here. At the essence of it, their products, where possible, are organic, vegan, ethical and sustainable.

Transparency is fundamental to their operations but often, as they’ve come to discover, this isn’t echoed throughout the supply chain.

“You’d be surprised how many brands don’t know where their products are made or the working conditions of their employees overseas.”

There have been instances where a potential brand partner has come to them but a specific hole in their product or supply chain means they don’t meet the Fairlings selection criteria. But this has led to some really remarkable responses and transformations.

“We get really excited when we see a brand come back to us after being turned down for any number of reasons and fix the issue we had with their products or supply chain. This has happened a few times and it’s awesome to see them take on the feedback and make the change for the better!”

Masa admits it can be testing at times. “While it’s exciting to have products that fit in with our ethos, it’s also tough. Sometimes we can’t find the product that meets our guidelines and it can take up to a year for us to bring on a brand. We have had to turn down so many products because they may have an ingredient like beeswax or unsustainable palm oil. It is the first filter we use when looking for new products.”

This uncompromising standard is something we don’t see enough of in our modern society where we value instant gratification and price over quality. Unfortunately, this leads to sub-standard ethics.

Hearing about this kind of feedback loop where brands are open to learn and grow is encouraging. It’s about challenging our own set of standards and encouraging each other to do better. To push for something beyond our own self interests. It’s not easy, but it’s totally doable.

At the end of the day, it’s the customer experience that will attest to this extra effort.

“We find a lot of customers align with our ethos and love the range of products we stock. A lot of them are also grateful that they can finally shop with ease knowing that they don’t have to be doing a background check on the brand or the product ingredients.”

For The Love Of Simplicity

As devote minimalists, Michael and Masa wanted to offer a shopping experience that eliminated the time-consuming task of sifting through thousands of products and researching the ingredients yourself. They go through this rigorous process before a product is even considered for their store. This ensures the customer can go to their shop and feel 100% confident they are getting exactly what they need and want.

Masa goes on to explain the basis of this approach. “Our goal is to make shopping for natural products easier. Minimalists at heart, we stock just one brand of each product; the best we could find based on rigorous research. We don’t want to offer 20 different shampoos for you to sort through and spend half an hour choosing which one would work. We do all that work for you. What also sets us apart is that we triple check every single ingredient that is in each product.”

The team is currently focusing on shifting towards as many zero waste and sustainable products as possible.

Masa concludes, “Our journey so far has been very exciting and tough at the same time. We’ve really enjoyed getting to know more about the online world with the store and learning the challenges that can come along with it.”

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Emily Uebergang

Emily Uebergang is a writer, farmer and ecoprenuer who transitioned from the urban jungle to a working farmstead in the beautiful mountains of the Manning Valley in New South Wales, Australia. She writes like she's out to try and save the world... or at least make a difference for the better.