L-R: Syafiqah Omar, Sing-Suen Soon
Sonder Social introduces you to lesser-known social enterprises within the Asia-Pacfic region – through quarterly subscription boxes. Think textiles from Vietnam made by artisans using traditional looms, jewellery from India crafted by survivors of human trafficking, clay items from local outfit The Creative Clay Co, and eco-friendly wax wraps from Thailand that are a great substitute for cling film. The boxes are themed around positive values that resonate with the trio of founders – for example, gratitude and compassion.
“Many of these socially conscious companies face problems with social media marketing or even translating their collaterals into English,” says Syafiqah Omar, who works as a freelance producer. “If they aren’t able to reach out to a bigger market, they aren’t able to provide work for their beneficiaries.”
Sonder Social even helps these social enterprises with their marketing efforts. “We put together a collection of marketing materials, take photos for them and create a brand story for them to use to promote themselves,” says Sing-Suen Soon, who works for charity Beyond Social Services, adding that these social enterprises also get regular airtime on Sonder Social’s social media platforms.
Sonder Social was born in early 2016, when Sing-Suen floated the concept of a socially-conscious subscription box to Azi Fuad – who’s now based in Amsterdam as a freelance designer. They were both working at the Singapore Committee for United Nations Women at the time, and shared a desire to support the non-pro t sector. Azi then roped Syafiqah in. “I spent some time interning in Pakistan, and in my spare time, I taught English at a school for street children located by the train tracks, started by a local woman out of her own pocket,” she says. Inspired by how women there used their ingenuity to help others, Syafiqah was looking to do the same back home. “We support social enterprises because they provide sustainable work for their beneficiaries so they get a sense of dignity,” she adds.
The trio trawled the Internet to and find a good mix of social enterprises, checking media coverage of these companies as well as interviewing the owners over Skype, to understand their motivations. The aim was to include as many different causes as possible in each box. In December last year, Sonder Social launched its first collection of products from six social enterprises.
Their work has managed to effect change in those around them. “My sister now buys ethical jewellery, and cuts down on plastic bag use,” Sing-Suen says, adding that when her friends and family see the work she’s doing, they too want to be part of the conscious-living movement.
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