Tip your (non)local coffee-bean picker

We’re spoiled in the US. We get to drink premium coffee from the best farms in the world, and at a reasonable price. But many of the farm-workers involved in actually making that cortado a reality generally aren’t compensated equitably.

Some people would be willing to pay more for coffee if they knew that increase was going to support the workers who need and deserve it, but making that change through the traditional economy of producers, distributors, wholesalers, and retailers is extremely difficult. Even direct-trade coffee partnerships are subject to the demands of the global coffee industry, which must feed a voracious worldwide caffeine habit.

Propina is trying to side-step the traditional model of farm-worker compensation by allowing people to support farm-workers by making a direct contribution to a farm-worker’s pension fund when they’re at the till of their favorite coffee shop. In-shop videos like the one above drive awareness while patrons wait in line to make their order. Additionally, similar to the Patreon model, patrons can become recurring contributors and get updates from the farm.

Why it’s hot

1. Using technology to bridge the gap from producer to consumer empowers money-havers to give to a cause they believe in.

2. Technology shrinking the world, making something global feel like more of a local connection.

3. We may see more of these “capitalism hacks” that attempt to use technology to circumvent systemic inequalities that otherwise seem insurmountable.

Why it’s not hot

1. Like the US server-tipping model, this idea could potentially drive down guaranteed wages for farm workers if employers see them gaining any amount of significant external compensation. In a sense, this idea only works well if it remains an insignificant portion of a farm workers livelihood.

2. This model relies on the generosity of the globally wealthy to “support” poor farm workers, instead of creating systems of equitable exchange that account for the needs of all stakeholders. Admittedly, the latter is a much more difficult challenge.

Source: Contagious

Inside Sephora’s New Innovation Lab

The big beauty brand’s new team and facility model a retail future where both on- and off-line shopping are kicked up by a serious notch…

When Sephora launched in the U.S. in 1998, it radically changed the cosmetics buying experience, replacing the controlled department store counter transaction with a hands-on, candy store-style field day for makeup lovers. In recent years, the brand has aggressively integrated digital with in-store retail, and today opened its new Innovation Lab, a team and facility focused on “envisioning the future of retail for Sephora, and making sure that we’re staying ahead of our clients and the different trends that are out there,” says Bridget Dolan, VP, Innovation Lab. Read more about the Innovation Lab here.

The opening of the Innovation Lab corresponds with the rollout of four new digital programs. The first is Pocket Contour, a product that, using a mobile device, provides a tutorial on contouring (applying highlighting and shading makeup) to complement the user’s specific face shape. By uploading a selfie to the app, the customer gets step-by-step contouring instructions and product recommendations. Second, Sephora is launching Beacons in all locations, after beta testing the program in two San Francisco-area stores. The location-aware, opt-in mobile notifications activate in the store through the Sephora to Go mobile app, which is linked to a customer’s online account to notify them of promotions and birthday month benefits, remind them of in-store services like mini-makeovers, and display information such as a customer’s point balance with Beauty Insider (Sephora’s rewards program). Also in-store in about a month will be an augmented reality front-window display featuring female founders of numerous cosmetic brands that Sephora carries, such as Laura Mercier and Kat Von D. When a customer hovers their phone over a founder’s face, a video telling the story of the founder and the brand will automatically play, and stop when the phone is moved away. The videos will also link to any makeover tutorials that the founders have on Sephora’s site. Finally, Sephora is introducing Flash, which is essentially the company’s version of Amazon Prime—for an annual enrollment fee of $10, customers get free two-day shipping, or overnight shipping for $5.95.


Why it’s hot:

Sephora is leap-frogging the department store model once again…

While the high-styled “innovation lab” concept has become popular among retail and technology companies to highlight their experimental activities, the separate, customized space outside of Sephora corporate headquarters will have specific value given that, despite Sephora’s long-time investment in e-commerce, in-store shopping and personal interaction is still extremely important to the brand’s success