We were fortunate to get to know Sage Lally's story. She's the Founder of be., a marketplace that's all about inclusivity. MASAMI is one of the launch brands which makes us happy. Read more about Sage and her journey. . .
Why did you decide to launch be.? And why now?
be. started as (and still is) a newsletter sharing women and non-binary people’s stories on new topics weekly. When I originally launched the platform, I knew I wanted to pivot it into some sort of product, I just didn’t know what!
When we launched in June 2020, the world, specifically the United States, was in a state of disaster (to put it lightly ;) Not only were we living through the first few months of a global pandemic, but also a resurge in the Black Lives Matter movement following the murder of George Floyd. During this time, I was working as the Marketing Manager of a startup, which involved managing their social media. It was both exciting and infuriating to watch different brands try to respond to this crisis. Some brands showed up, giving time and money towards BLM, and even pausing their own posting schedule for over a week to make space for Black voices. (These were the exciting responses.) Some however, continued to post as normal, and even had former employees come forward to call their CEO’s racist. (These were the infuriating responses.) These brands that I loved (I’m looking at you Reformation and Bando) were run by racists?! I felt completely tricked.
During this time, I also noticed that people seemed desperate for a resource to shop brands that were doing the right thing. That’s when I realized: why is it so hard to shop your values?
Why now? Well, it’s taken me over a year to get this right. I wanted to ensure that I did my research: that the brands on our site were ones that both I could trust and that my community could trust. Like Desmond Tutu said, “if you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.” It isn’t enough anymore to just have quality products and services. We need brands that act on their values.
That’s what we’re here to do: make it easy (and fun) to shop your values.
What has been your biggest challenge to date?
Being a solo-entrepreneur with a photography degree brings up many challenges. Lol. However, I have learned over time that everything is "figureoutable", and that I have it in me to learn and react to whatever comes my way. That being said, I think one of the biggest challenges I have faced is getting this marketplace out in the world. It took me 100+ hours to build the website by myself, including learning HTML and CSS, reaching out to 1000+ brands, and navigating all the math (with a math learning disability I might add). I’m so grateful to have had the support of my close friends, including my best friend Amy who did all the beautiful illustrations on our website, and my friends Michael and Yash who helped me to figure out all my margins. There’s no challenge too big when I have my friends to help!
What inspires you?
I’m inspired by empathy, and by people that choose love regardless of what the world tells them to do. If all businesses and CEOs led with love and empathy first, I think the world would be a much better place!
Do you believe small brands can go up against Amazon?
With the right support! People forget that Amazon started several decades ago in a garage as an online bookstore. What Jeff Bezos had was good timing and a great idea. These two things can still lead to success in 2021. Nowadays, Amazon is convenient and affordable, plus, they have everything! Part of my goal in building this marketplace is to create a similar model. People are comfortable with using Amazon, but I doubt most people feel great, or even good about it. I’m aiming to build a platform that functions the same way: lots of options, convenient and affordable, yet every purchase makes the world a better place.
Together, I believe we can go up against Amazon. The more brands we add the better our chances.
Strength in numbers.
What are some of your favorite indie brands?
What a hard question! The brands I get most excited about are the ones that are so unique, I can’t even believe they exist. For example, Lauren from Ujjo. Ujjo is the first hot sauce made for coffee. Like what!
Some other unique brands I love:
- Recess Pickleball: I have never been interested in pickleball, yet they make me want to buy everything on their site.
- We Drifters: They make bug-repellent clothing for outdoor wear.
- HarperSage: They design clothes for the duality within all of us. Harper is the feminine side, Sage is the tomboy side.
- Ru: Healthy drinks inspired by asian cultures.
- Toodaloo: Trail mix with adaptogenic ingredients.
I wish I could tell you 1,000 more. Shop our marketplace to see more of my favorites! And of course, MASAMI will always be on my list.