Five Minutes With: Fairlings Founders Michael & Masa

Here at THE ECO EDIT, we love discovering fresh, thoughtful, and ethical new businesses that are governed not only by a stylish brand vision, but also a strong moral compass and sense of responsibility to consumers and the environment. Fairlings readily meets each and every one of these criteria with its dedication to the best products and sustainable business practices.

Operating as an online essentials store that curates fair trade, vegan, organic and eco-friendly products, Fairlings was created in 2015 by Canberra-based husband and wife team Michael and Masa. Frustrated with a lack of high quality and ethical cosmetics, toiletries and day-to-day essential items in one centralised place, Michael and Masa decided to take matters into their own hands.

Here the minimalism-loving entrepreneurs reveal what prompted them to launch Fairlings, and what guiding principles they follow in their daily business practices.

THE ECO EDIT: What led you to open an online store?

Michael & Masa: As ethical minimalists ourselves, we have very high standards when making purchasing decisions. Inevitably we grew tired of wasting our time and money testing a bunch of natural products from a dozen different shops until we finally found one that worked.

It’s the combination of performance and ethics that is hard to come by. That’s why we created Fairlings – to help eliminate that decision fatigue and enable our customers to shop freely with a clear conscious. We do all the hard work for you through our selection process.

Why are natural and ethical cosmetics important to you both?

Natural products are extremely important to us because the general public aren’t aware of the toxic and unethical nature of mainstream products. The big brands are solely interested in increasing their profit margins and as a result, they do damage to the environment, animals, workers and our health.

We’re living in an exciting time where we have courageous and passionate entrepreneurs who a making amazing products that are as close to nature as possible. We feel like we have an obligation to make people aware of these alternatives and hopefully shift the demand of ethical everyday essentials.

You prefer to stock just one of each type of product – why is this?

Again, as minimalists, we hate clutter – especially mental clutter. What we found when we were trying to buy products at health food stores was the pain of deciding between 11 different natural deodorants. Masa is an obsessive label reader and it was excruciating process to decide which product to buy.

Ultimately, we didn’t want to buy a product that didn’t perform. We all know that feeling right? You’re in two minds of whether to push through and use it anyway (even though you don’t want to), or leave it to collect dust on your shelf, creating more clutter in the house. Other alternatives include throwing it out, or re-gifting the products to friends – none of these options seems like the right thing.

We thought it would be so much easier if the stores put their best foot forward and stocked what they thought was the best brand in a particular product category. We didn’t see that model anywhere, so we decided to start it ourselves.

A lot of retailers claim that they curate the best natural products but they still stock multiple brands per category, which mind you doesn’t always end up the healthier option. We’ve taken a more polarising approach by attempting to stock only the best.

Sure, there’s a risk of perhaps not being suitable for everyone, but it’s a risk we are willing to take in order to create a more pleasurable and simpler shopping experience for our customers.

Who the Fairlings customer is, and what are they looking for?

At the extreme end of the spectrum, our customers are minimalist vegans. We’re talking about the hardcore label readers who don’t want to create any excess waste or clutter in their lives. Our goal is to serve the strictest of customers and this is what we initially set out to do.

What we’re finding however is a large chunk of our customer base are women who are realising the harm that their current products are doing to their bodies and the environment. They’ve recently started their natural product journey and are finding what combinations work best for them.

They look at our products and read about what we do, and feel like they are in safe hands. They don’t have to read every ingredient and double check the products for safety. These customers used to have the perception that natural products are nice in theory, but they wonder, “do they actually perform?” We aim to debunk this myth and shift the paradigm with our handpicked range.

How does minimalism fit into your lives, and why is it important to you?

Minimalism to us means keeping what you deem as essential and eliminating the rest. We were mentally weighed down and overwhelmed with life. Minimalism was an outlet for us to detox our minds.

We started by decluttering our physical environment. We soon realised that minimalism is much more than decluttering your house – it’s a mindset. You start looking at your calendar, your inbox, your friendships, your mode of transport, pretty much everything, differently.

The question of, “is this essential?” aids of all our decisions. And it’s extremely liberating. The combination of minimalism and veganism has heightened our level of consciousness like we could never of imagined. It’s through this lens that we are now able to live a fulfilling, purpose-driven lifestyle each and every day.

What are some of your top Fairlings product picks?

It will be hard to pick only a few, as we love everything! Truly, that’s why we stock them. But if we had to pick our personal favourites as well as the ones that our customers are loving, here they are:

1. Mukti Hydrating Cleansing Lotion, $54.95

The best quality cleanser we’ve come across. It not only keeps your skin feeling clean, soft and nourished, it doesn’t leave your skin feeling dry like many other cleansers.

fairlings mukti

2. Vanessa Megan Organic Blood Orange Foaming Hand & Body Wash, $54.95

We love the 2-in-1 aspect of this product, both a hand wash and body wash. Smells AMAZING, leaves your skin feeling fresh and soft. This was one of the trickier items to find that was reasonably priced, felt great and contained quality ingredients.

fairlings vanessa megan

3. The Divine Company Organic Peppermint Tooth Mousse, $19.95

Probably our favourite product. Cleans your teeth without the nasties! Has a wonderful flavour but an interesting texture because there is no plastic particles like most conventional toothpastes have.

fairlings divine company

4. One Seed Organic Perfume Sample Set, $37

A perfect gift or a great way to try a few different scents before committing to a bigger bottle. Organic perfume is a must if you love perfumes, conventional ones are super toxic!

fairlings one seed

5. Moonrise Creek Organic Vegan Mascara, $29.95

A beautiful vegan, organic and handmade thick mascara that will last you all day.

fairlings moonrise creek

What’s next for Fairlings?

Our focus for 2017 is simple. Continue to find and work with amazing brands and build a community around our products and ethos.

More specifically, it’s our goal to bring on at least one new brand a month and to develop our community through our Ambassador Program.

We’re currently testing a brand that makes certified organic house cleaning products. This has been extremely hard to come by, especially in Australia, so we’re excited about that!

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