Joana Dias da Cunha, Fair Bazaar

Educating and Inspiring with Joana Dias da Cunha

As I record my first podcast after my big move, I am a bit nervous. Is the sound ok, is the light ok, is the background decent? And then I start chatting with Joana. Once you get into the chat, it is just a chat between two passionate people. Joana is a sustainability advocate who has created a business around her passion. Fair Bazaar and more recently Fair News are her ways of changing the world of fast fashion one bit at a time. Into a world that we want to live in.

The Journey

Joana always dipped in and out of entrepreneurship. She started off as an entrepreneur straight after Uni, but then decided to spend a few years in the corporate world and then working with start-ups through the arms of Rocket Internet. In 2015, she started seeing the world differently. As she watched the movie “True Costs“, she felt like she could no longer go on the same way. It is interesting, so many of us watch movies and think things need to change, it can’t go on like that. And then some people do something about it. That is what Joana did – as she immediately started changing her fashion choices, she realized how difficult it was to do so and created a business that allowed sustainable brands to prosper. Fair Bazaar was born.

Fair-Bazaar: A multi-stage adventure

After the conception stage, Joana launched a physical presence in Lisbon and later an online shop. Hearing this today feels weird because we have just been through Covid-19 and the surge in online shopping. But at the time, that seemed to make sense. She provided a marketplace for brands and that was at the core of her mission.

However, the pandemic brought her business model under pressure. As she closed down her shops, her online business was insufficient to maintain the business. As an optimist, Joana turned to the other 2 pillars she had for the brand – education and inspiration. Amidst the pandemic, she started Fair News, a digital magazine dedicated to sustainable fashion and lifestyle. And she grew her education practice, venturing into B2B with masterclasses and workshops. Had the pandemic not hit, she may not have taken the brand there yet. Hard to guess now.

Challenges of Entrepreneurship

Entrepreneurship comes associated with the word uncertainty. We have heard that before from other guests at the podcast. So the pandemic added another layer to it, requiring what every entrepreneur has to live and breathe – adapting. Joana has had to make difficult choices during the last 18 months – that included firing people, closing shops. These are the dreaded decisions everyone launching and growing a business hopes they can avoid. And in fact, sometimes, that is the end of it. But Joana faced it as another moment where the business had to adapt and find another way. And she did so through a lens of opportunity, finding new ways to work and grow.

A different life

Living in Lisbon at the time the lockdown hit, Joana escaped the city for lockdown and adopted a new form of living, more communal. The importance of being with family in a time like this not only provided her with the practical support that an entrepreneur trying to hold a business together while having a small child at home needs to have, but also gave her the extra mental support these difficult times required. To help, she doubled down on her discipline of having a running, yoga and meditation practice. Even though she did not develop any new habits (I am still fascinated by my colleague who started a philosophy club), she certainly ensured these key habits of self-care were part of her life.

Looking forward, Joana maintains her optimistic stance. She sees a world of opportunity out there, as there is still so much to do in order to slow down fashion and reduce the costs it has in people’s livelihoods and our planet. I hope she continues to promote, educate, and inspire.

Joana’s List

  • Advice: Importance of diversifying – would have gone to online earlier
  • Lesson: Need to adapt
  • Book: Search Inside Yourself
  • Word: New Opportunities

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This podcast is produced by Alice Stansfield

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