Have You Ever Shopped By Story? You’d Be Surprised

Guest Post by Tania Garbe

Have you ever made a design purchase because you liked the story behind the product? Because the product involved former gang member’s talents in its designs, or because the entrepreneur behind minimalist home wooden artifacts supports a NY non-profit urban garden, composting and learning center?

This new way to purchase is called “shopping by story,” a new trend whereby consumers like yourself make purchasing decisions not just based on the beauty or functionality of a product, but primarily based on the story behind the product and its  unique social benefits.


Handcrafted wooden radios, clocks, and toys from Central Java by Magno Design

Ever bought something on Etsy, or backed a Kickstarter project? Then you likely have already shopped by story. Etsy sells interesting items by sometimes showcasing the unique stories of the sellers or the history of the items themselves. Designers or creators on Kickstarter, on the other hand, take great care in developing visually stunning and appealing videos that tell the timeline or narrative of the product and often paints a picture of the team behind the project.

There are several new startups that are taking selling by story to the next level by making product stories the actual focus of their entire website experience.


Singgih’s team (Magno Design) cuts only 80 trees and plants 10,000 in plantations. His tag line is “less wood, more work; cut less, plant more.”


Homeboy Tote Bags, Artecnica’s most provocative Design with Conscience™ project to date.

Tealet, for instance features the stories of tea sellers around the world to market their platform which “connects tea drinkers with tea growers around the world.”

Designwithbenefits.com is a just–launched website that allows you to shop design products by benefit – to filter/search products by the social good that they are doing in the categories of recycling, the environment, poverty, education, equity and animals. The site takes great care to feature the great narratives behind each seller or designer. For example, you might find a page dedicated to Jojo, Jenny and Aleena, Asian elephants at the Thai Elephant Conservation Center that create works of art with their trunks. You learn that proceeds go back to supporting the sanctuary and to raise awareness and funds for the preservation of this endangered species.

Or you might find yourself on the featured story page for Brooklyn Butcher Blocks, a one-man operation whose product supports Compost For Brooklyn, a NY non-profit urban garden and learning center.

Why shop by story? It’s a great way to make sure that your dollars are in fact giving back to a project that is out to solve pressing global issues or that strives for positive societal change. By knowing the “story behind the story,” you know you are giving back to something that you believe in and that you trust.

Please visit Designwithbenefits.com to find clever products and beautiful designs made with social benefits in mind.