“Do justice, love mercy, walk humbly with your God.” – Micah 6:8
“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.” – Proverbs 31:8-9
These were just a few places in scripture that inspired the foundation and core values of recently launched lifestyle goods brand, Shopary.
Just launched in September 2018, Shopary is an online shopping experience that offers disruptive pricing on thoughtfully curated goods selected from thousands of producers world-wide. The company seeks to give shoppers a shopping experience that reflects integrity in product pricing, the production-process, and quality.
Founded by LA-based husband and wife duo, Vay Ho and Sherry Chan have always been value-conscious shoppers. Familiar with product markups, the couple was committed to purchase products only when they knew they were purchasing at the price point that the product was actually worth. Vay has been an entrepreneur for over a decade, working on the importer sector within the global marketplace. From his 10+ years in the industry, he became aware of the shift in power from distributors and importers, to factories. Sherry has also been engaged in researching and understanding true manufacturer pricing, and from this knowledge was convinced that there had to be a more fair, just, and thoughtful way to get accurate pricing on ethically curated goods.
Thus, Shopary was born! The idea behind the company is to create a platform that gives consumers direct access to factory goods at near factory prices (ie, minimal markup). The company does so much more than create an integrity-filled shopping experience, though. Along with sourcing from traditional manufacturers, they also source products from individual artisans through social enterprises in developing communities which provide economic opportunity to the poor, the disadvantaged, and the vulnerable.
“Our approach to business is uncompromising –In every part of the experience, from producer to consumer,” Co-founder, Sherry shares. “We know there is a population of consumers who want to do good with their purchases. We’re with them. But we also know that within this population lie consumers who face the barrier of artisanal goods often marked at high prices.”
Sherry and Vay are certainly on to something as they recognize the desire of many consumers to shop ethically. And shouldn’t we as followers of Jesus, be especially conscious of what, and how we consume? Oftentimes consumerism is held up as an idol; pitted against the greed-free, sacrificial, simple lifestyle that Jesus calls us to follow in his footsteps in. It’s something we should avoid. But if we’re honest with ourselves, we need to consume to survive — whether it be in the form of food, water, shelter, clothing, etc. If this is the case, rather than avoid consuming altogether, we should instead ask ourselves what it looks like to consume in a just, ethical, and intentional manner. If consumerism is not to become an idol, we must be aware of its power and ask for God’s discernment in how, when, and what we consume.
Sherry & Vay both grew up with a sense of wanting to do good and change the world, as many of us do. Although neither of them grew up in Christian households, faith in Jesus came to be the core of their life mission and career. Having begun following Him in highschool and college, they became rooted in Jesus’ commandments to love one’s neighbor, and to care for the poor. Shopary has become an incredible opportunity to do so actively and practically, by providing accessible ethical consumerism to shoppers, and economic opportunity for those in poverty.
“Our faith drives us to action,” Sherry explains. “It drives us to travel across the world to personally meet and recognize the individuals who work so diligently, and we are humbled by their overcoming of difficult circumstances. It drives us to empower them, to [elevate] their voices, to let their stories be heard. We trust in God’s guidance as we navigate the business. We trust His calling for us as we see business as a mission to do justice, to love, and to serve others.”
Shopary’s Sustainability Collection reflects this pursuit of justice as it partners with organizations that directly help local communities in developing countries. One Sustainability Collection partner specifically trains and employs young women who are at risk (or were formerly victims of) human trafficking and sexual exploitation in Laos. The provision of a secure job then allows for educational opportunity, helping to keep these women out of the trafficking industry. Another partner intentionally employs women with disabilities in Laos. In both Western society and globally, opportunities for those with differing abilities are slim, making it otherwise difficult to break out of cycles of poverty. A partner in Vietnam employs communities from rural villages, providing stable jobs and opportunity for sustainable economic growth. Apart from providing economic growth opportunities, these handcrafted goods are also made with eco-friendly, sustainable materials. They are both good for the communities they’re made in, and good for the planet.
While Vay and Sherry have just officially launched an incredible business, they also recognize the hard work it took to get here. “We’ve faced a lot of self-doubt. It’s a mental and sometimes emotional struggle. We’ve repeatedly asked ourselves if this new concept would work. We’ve faced a lot of setbacks from our original timelines, which resulted in more doubt. But the doubt never stopped us from moving forward.”
As our own relationship with Jesus is personally reflected in our art, career, and day-to-day life; we too face doubt, emotional struggle, and unexpected setbacks that discourage us from continuing to pursue His kingdom. Whether you’re starting a kingdom-minded business like Sherry & Vay, or simply learning what it means to allow Jesus’ love holistically fill your life, their experience leaves us with a word of encouragement to persevere —
“The biggest battle is the temptation to give up. You overcome a battle every time you choose not to give up. Keep going, even if the world is against you.”
Want to learn more about Shopary’s story, what they’re up to, and shop their products? Check out their website: https://shopary.com/
// By Mariko Sandico