The founders of goodbuy—a free small business shopping tool—share tips for shopping ethically, as well as their favorite brands to shop.
In 2022, it’s no secret that online shopping has surpassed the physical retail space in popularity. Considering we can order whatever we want at the tap of a button, convenience and lower pricing often takes precedence over supporting small businesses, which can take additional time and energy to research online. And when big-box retailers are funneling their dollars into dominating search engines and social feeds, it’s easier than ever to “add to cart” without thinking of the consequences—for yourself, for the employees, for the environment, or for the world.
To make finding and supporting small businesses less daunting, Cara Oppenheimer and Cary Fortin launched goodbuy: an online shopping alternative that offers people the ability to opt out of shopping from major e-commerce sites and instead find small businesses that align with their personal values. All you have to do is install the free browser extension and type the items that you’re looking for into Google (or your other preferred search engine).
If the item is available, a tab will pop up with recommendations on where to buy the product from the over 180,000 small businesses and 72 million products in the goodbuy database. You can even specify what kinds of stores you’d like to shop from—like “indigenous-owned” or “vegan”—by filtering the tabs in the settings. All in all, the goodbuy founders are making it easier for you to be intentional about buying from the communities that you’re looking to support.
Wondering why it’s important to shop small in the first place? “When you look at the stats, nearly 50 percent of all e-commerce sales go to Amazon and around 70 percent of all e-commerce goes to just 15 mega-retailers,” Oppenheimer explains. Most of the wealth generated from those sales end up in the pockets of corporate bosses and CEOs. Meanwhile, getting money into the hands of small business owners has what the goodbuy founders call a “tremendous impact.” For starters, small business owners are typically more diverse than those in power at large companies.
“When you buy [from] a women-owned business, a Black-owned business, an indigenous-owned business, you’re putting money into that community and 62 percent of that money will stay circulating in the community,” Fortin says. Oftentimes, this is done by creating more jobs, better pay for employees, and charitable donations (which small business owners are more likely to make)—a cycle that the founders say has been largely absent since the decline of in-store local shopping.
One group that could always use more support when it comes to your hard-earned cash are women—especially Black, trans, and indigenous women. Below, Oppenheim and Fortin share some of their favorite women-owned small businesses that you can shop online and are all available on goodbuy.
Labucq is a contemporary women's footwear brand based in Los Angeles founded by Lauren Bucquet, former director of footwear and accessories at Rag & Bone. “We love it because each piece is not only well-crafted, but on trend, so unique, and the kind of shoes that make people chase you down the street to say, ‘Where did you get those?'” Oppenheimer explains.
Proclaim is an AAPI-owned business founded on the principle that fashion and nude lingerie should represent all women and can be made in a way that does good for people and the planet. “We love them as a much more conscious and ethical alternative to Skims,” Fortin says. She loves options like this nude ribbed tank or square-neck bralette top.
Feners is a women-owned, independent brand based in Barcelona. “Our entire team is always on the lookout for what’s next from this eye-catching, never subtle brand. We love them for their one-of-a-kind approach to footwear and their many vegan options,” Oppenheimer says. Need ideas? This rainbow-hued heel is a standout.
Callahan was launched in 2013 by fashion buyer-turned-designer Michelle Callahan. “We love their beautiful knit sets, and the fact that they make bold knitwear completely seasonless,” Oppenheimer says. This gorgeous striped halter dress in teal is a great place to start.
Min & Mon
Oppenheimer and Fortin love this NYC-based, Colombian-founded handbag brand for the whimsical touches added to every piece. “We are absolutely in love with every handbag Min & Mon comes up with. They are pure art, all fashion, and definitely don’t lack personality,” Oppenheimer says. Just check out the eyes on this microbag.
“We are loving the Cleobella dresses for their garden party-inspired vibes that transport you to far off locations,” Fortin says. This is a family-owned business with certified, ethical handmade apparel and options like this floral ankle dress. What more do you need?
Aurate Founder Sophie Kahn’s background in fashion and Bouchra Ezzahraoui’s experience in finance “created a perfect partnership to transform the fine jewelry market. We like to think it was a match made by the jewelry gods,” Oppenheimer says.
Angel Chang is a seed-to-button, zero-carbon, AAPI-owned womenswear line that is handmade by indigenous tribes in the mountains, traceable to the source using ancient techniques that follow the cycles of nature. A former designer for Chloe, “all of her pieces are exquisite,” Fortin says.
Not only does Selva Negra put sustainability first and focus on ethically-made products, but the brand's effortlessly cool basics are nothing but covetable. “We love the easy basics with beautiful fabric choices and timeless cuts,” Fortin says, pointing out these sleek high-waisted denim bell-bottoms.
Nomadic Friends was founded upon the idea of empowering artisans, indigenous tribes, and like-minded brands from around the world through exceptional curation of sustainable fashion and home design. “There is a soul to these clothes,” Fortin explains. “They represent the full spectrum of humanity, and feel truly global.”