Azora Zoe Paknad, Founder of Goldune

She's the founder of Goldune--a recently-launched, sustainable home, lifestyle and personal care shop--and she's breathing color into the traditionally beige sustainability space.

We are so delighted to feature Azora, founder of the gorgeous sustainability shop, Goldune. We're so inspired by her mission to make sustainability "less beige" - refreshing, isn't it? And, once you take one look at her beautiful shop, it's crystal clear that her curation skills are second to none. Get to know a bit about her, and what inspired her to create Goldune, below.

Before launching Goldune, you were at some of our favorite brands (Food52, BaubleBar). Tell us a little bit about your background, and how you ultimately launched your own beautiful company (!). 

I spent the better part of a decade in NYC, and oddly it was that time in a concrete jungle that got me thinking about the environment. (I think it was seeing all the trash out on the sidewalk and really smelling it in the hot summer sun that first made me consider the fact that garbage never really goes “away.”) I became a clean beauty junkie, and really enjoyed my exposure to the local/seasonal food movement through my work at Food52, but felt like I was sort of left to my own devices when it came to shopping sustainably beyond the world of makeup and organic food. The more I got into sustainability and the harder I tried to be a “conscious consumer”, the more I felt the void in the market.

Another thing I noticed was that it felt sustainability was only a talking point for waif-like white influencers on Instagram who could afford the insanely expensive slow fashion they hawked, or for folks with PhDs or super hardcore zero wasters who carried their trash around in a mason jar. When I looked around at my friends, my family, my peers and my coworkers, I didn’t see a single person who fit into any of those buckets-- but I did see a lot of people who wanted to do a little bit better when it came to their personal consumption habits, but didn’t know where to start, and didn’t identify with any of the brands out there. That’s when I really started thinking about what it would mean to make sustainability less beige and founded Goldune as a one stop destination for sustainable home and life. 

Your mission to make sustainability “less beige” is so refreshing. What’s been something that’s inspired you to breathe so much life and color into what’s a typically beige field? 

Thank you!! Honestly, my background. I identify as mixed (half white, half Middle Eastern, she/her) and I’ve never felt like I could fit neatly into one category or personality. I’ve never been into the sandstone and beige “lifestyle” look that’s so popular on Instagram, and truthfully, I felt super aware of non-inclusive that perspective was. I wanted to bring color--not just in the design and literal sense, but people of color--to the table when it came to sustainability as well. There’s more than one way to look, to design, and to get inspired, and for folks like me who come from different backgrounds or ends of the earth or cultures, that perspective is often reflected in the way we shop, dress, and style our homes. I wanted diversity of design philosophy, of price point, of brand and of customer for Goldune, because it’s what felt lacking to me as a consumer. 

"I wanted to bring color--not just in the design and literal sense, but people of color--to the table when it came to sustainability as well. There’s more than one way to look, to design, and to get inspired... I wanted diversity of design philosophy, of price point, of brand and of customer for Goldune, because it’s what felt lacking to me as a consumer."

A lot of us in the Compell’d community fancy ourselves curators on the topics we’re passionate about, and it’s clear you’re as good a curator as they come! Tell us a little about your process to select the best items for Goldune.

I wish there was a short and sweet answer, but months and months of testing, research, and reaching out to brands with detailed questions. I connected with over 350 sustainable brands between August and October to make our launch happen. A lot of folks think sustainability is skin deep--meaning they’re focused on whether something comes in glass or plastic. That matters for sure, but there are all sorts of things in supply chain and manufacturing that we don’t notice or think about when we shop. I think of sustainability less as a finite end goal and more as a spectrum. Everything has its place on the sustainability spectrum. When it comes to picking brands, I’ll always happily work with the smaller, woman of color-owned brand that has lofty goals to improve product or production or process to be more sustainable when they’re able to hit minimum quantities or a certain revenue goal to afford a packaging upgrade--that is infinitely more valuable to me than a super well-funded company who does everything “sustainably” but lacks representation or heart. You’ll see that reflected in so many of the awesome small brands whose products we stock--we’re working towards scale (and scaling our sustainability efforts) together!

"What is sustainable is what works for you."

We asked fellow Connoisseur Kate Assaraf of NOAP this, and we’d love to ask you as well: what are some of your favorite easy ways to create sustainable habits for those who might be looking to get started or for some small wins?

I mentioned sustainability is a spectrum, and my approach to getting people excited about sustainability and personal responsibility is similar--what is sustainable is what works for you. You can buy all the reusable straws in the world, but if you don’t actually use them, there is nothing sustainable about that purchase!

As I get more active in this community, I’ve begun to feel like there are really two camps: the first is folks who (rightfully) point out that the myth of personal responsibility and the idea of an individual “carbon footprint” is actually just the outcome of $$$ PR campaigns by fossil fuel corporations who wanted to shift the focus from their (much more massive) responsibility and onto the shoulders of everyday people. The second camp includes people who are interested in living zero waste and feel it’s our human responsibility to do everything we can to be carbon neutral or negative. 

I think both are right and both have some great points. I try to balance my efforts between engaging regularly with sustainable policy and holding the Shells and Exxons and governments of the world accountable, and between being really thoughtful about what I buy and where I buy it from. That balance looks different for everyone. If you can swap out your paper towels for reusable ones and your bleached cotton toilet paper for a plant-based toilet paper, that’s awesome! If that’s not attainable for you and you need to focus your efforts on a different part of the household, or you want to take that capital and instead distribute it to the activists who are making a difference on a policy level, then I toast you too. It’s so personal.

Thank you so much, Azora! We are living for your list of Clean Beauty Favorites.

November 11, 2020

Stay in the loop on the latest Compell'd Connoisseurs, the lists we're loving, and other topics we can't get enough of.

Thanks for joining us, we're excited to have you.
Shoot! Something went wrong. Please try again.