Billing itself as an Etsy for Eco, London-based Eco Market is a natural online marketplace that connects buyers with eco-conscious products they’ll love — and sellers who share their passion for the environment.
Launched in 2010 under the name Ethical Community, the first iteration of Eco Market was born from the pleasure that founders Liam Patterson and Jason Dainter experienced when they received gifts with a personal connection to the giver. Realizing that the eco community is as much about relationships as products, they saw a need for a more personalized online marketplace experience.
“We’re concentrating on community, the stories of our sellers and the content that surrounds them,” Dainter told Desk.com’s Alyson Stone in a February 2012 blog post. “Customers seem hungry for an opportunity to purchase ethically from real people, and to read about the journeys.”
In early 2013, Dainter and Patterson decided there was still room for improvement. The site underwent a drastic revamp in an effort to better align the brand with the vision.
“We realized we had this opportunity,” Dainter told Techcrunch’s Sarah Perez in a March 2013 story. “We could either run with this brand that we weren’t totally happy with, and this platform that wasn’t scaling the way we wanted it to, or we could step back and fix what we should have fixed to start with.”
The result is a streamlined, social site that encourages visitors to build personal relationships with eco-friendly sellers. Less popular features like forums and events have been dropped, but now users can create profiles, share stories and videos with other members and even maintain “love lists” a la Pinterest.
“Our goal as a company is not only to give (often small one man band) sellers a platform to sell products,” the site claims, “but also to give consumers all the tools and information they need to demystify ethical shopping.” If that isn’t grand enough, the site also seeks to “create open debates about key issues that will help shape our planet.”
Online marketplace offerings are as varied and unique as they are eco-friendly. Buyers who came in search of fair-trade coffee or free-range chicken will also find organic clothing and jewelry. Acai vitamins, green kitchen appliances, biodegradable stationery — the selection is exhaustive.
What’s more, buyers can sort the store by the eco and natural causes most important to them, with vegan face scrubs in one search and recycled wine glasses in another. And sellers can attach ethical credentials and certificates to their products, ensuring that everything in the store is legitimately eco.
But Patterson and Dainter claim that Eco Market’s vision is less about items for sale and more about personal connections.
“It’s more about the story,” Dainter said. ”Maybe it’s handmade, but who made it by hand?”
With more than 15,000 products and 1,600 sellers to choose from, there are plenty of opportunity for buyers to find the answer.
Images: Eco Market