Azura Bay is an online boutique that offers women a way to shop for stylish lingerie, swim, and loungewear by their values. All products and brands are selected based on their ethical production, local options, artisan & handmade production, Fair Trade and eco-friendly fabrics and production processes.
Launched on November 14, 2015 by founder Ashley McIntosh, her vision was to create a boutique that makes shopping for ethical and ecofriendly products easy. Ashley has spent several years researching the industry and products, leading to a carefully curated collection of brands and products that not only meet an ethical standard, but are stylish, have a great fit, and often are made of ecofriendly fabrics like organic cotton.
Headquartered in Winnipeg, Canada, Azura Bay considers both Canadian and American brands as local options, and carries brands from Montreal, New York, California, and one from Colorado that uses certified Fair Trade production outside of North America.
Beyond the brands, Azura Bay is committed to making green choices as much as possible, especially for packaging and promotion choices. Most of the packaging is 100% recycled content and produced in the United States. Additionally, when you make a purchase, Azura Bay will donate a portion of the proceeds from your order to one of three organizations of your choice; The Nature Conservancy of Canada, WWF Canada, and Because I am a Girl. Azura Bay’s vision is to create positive change for fashion through the types of brands it works with and giving back to the global community
Below is a Q&A with founder, Ashley McIntosh, on her vision for Azura Bay and bringing sexy to social good.
Q: When did you discover social enterprise and when did you decide to start Azura Bay?
I discovered social enterprise when I was pretty young, as my mom would always buy coffee from Ten Thousand Villages. I always loved the cultural aspect of the store but didn’t fully understand the impact of Fair Trade until I began volunteering there during university. I was studying business, and I was determined to find a way to be involved in the world of commerce without the negative impact on people and the planet.
I loved learning how there were such amazing companies like Ten Thousand Villages, People Tree, and Tom’s using different business models to combine the fun world of fashion and consumer goods while respecting everyone in the supply chain as well as the environment. I knew I wanted to participate and the niche of lingerie and swimwear seemed like a fun area of fashion to start with.
Q: When someone asks you : “What is Azura Bay”? How do you answer them?
I tell them it is an online boutique carrying luxurious, ethically-made and eco-friendly lingerie, swim and loungewear. Our collection is thoroughly researched and vetted so that women can shop for high-quality products by their values whether that means local production, Fair Trade, organic, eco-friendly / containing recycled contents or women-owned companies.
Q: When looking to bring new items to the marketplace what do you look for in brands? Do you look at the purpose behind the brand first or the quality of product?
I start with ensuring that the ethos behind a brand is in sync with Azura Bay’s vision, and then I vet for quality. The core value that a brand absolutely has to have for me to consider carrying them is transparent and ethical production. If that’s the only criteria a brand can meet but they have exceptional quality, I consider them if I cannot find another brand creating that style of product in an eco-friendly fabric.
One of the elements of fast fashion that is detrimental to the environment is the concept that you “need” something new every couple of weeks, so if a customer loves a product that is classic and has great quality, I would expect them to keep that product a lot longer and therefore reduce waste.
However, many of our brands use organic cotton, recycled content in their fabrics (like Vitamin A’s “EcoLux™ fabric which uses recycled nylon fibres), “end of roll” fabrics which is an up-cycling process that keeps fabrics out of landfills, as well as low-impact dyes, and low-energy use in production. At Azura Bay, we use packaging products that are 80-100% recycled content and produced in the USA in order to reduce our environmental impact.
Q:All the brands on Azura Bay are socially responsible and Azura Bay gives some of its profits away as well. Tell us how that works?
I wanted to start our own initiative to give back in a local and global way by supporting a couple of organizations that work on protecting the environment, wildlife, and girls and women’s health and rights. We give the choice of which organization to support to our customers when they checkout, and then we donate a portion of the profits from their order.
Q:How has the response been from women consumers when you tell them about the Azura Bay marketplace?
The response so far has been very positive; I’ve gotten lots of comments about the style, quality, and ethos of the brands we carry, which has been very exciting and assuring to hear!
Q:What is your vision for Azura Bay?
My vision is for Azura Bay to be the leading online boutique for women to find beautiful, ethical and eco-friendly products and expand our offering to include more types of clothing and accessories, maybe even our own line one day!
Grant is the founder of Causeartist, one of the most influential impact business platforms in the world. Since 2013, Causeartist has been read in over 150 countries. Grant has personally interviewed 800+ impact entrepreneurs from around the world, highlighting innovations in ethical fashion, climate change, ethical technology, impact investing, and sustainable travel.