In a world that often equates success with cutting corners, we at Ziyada want to celebrate one of our core values that has guided us since day one: Integrity. It’s easy to say you value integrity, but the real test comes when sticking to your principles could cost you something significant. In this blog, we’re pulling back the curtain to share a moment from our early days that tested our commitment to integrity—and shaped who we are today.
What is Integrity?
At its core, integrity means doing the right thing, even when no one is watching. It’s about being consistent in your actions, values, and principles, regardless of the circumstances. For us, integrity means not just crafting quality products but also conducting our business in a way that honors everyone involved. From our artisans to our customers, integrity is a promise that underlies every interaction, every product, and every decision we make.
A Pivotal Moment for Ziyada
In 2015, when Ziyada was a fledgling social enterprise, we were ecstatic about receiving our exporting license and sending our first batch of products to the United States. Our team carefully packed each item and sent it to the nearest port, hearts swelling with pride and anticipation.
Then we hit a snag.
Despite having all the required paperwork, we found ourselves facing a customs office expecting a bribe for releasing our shipment. We were at a crossroads—either compromise our values or risk our newly founded business.
The Cost of Integrity
We panicked a little, but we chose to stand firm. Handing over a bribe would have made us complicit in a corrupt system that perpetuates inequality, shutting out those in poverty from essential goods and services. So, we waited, and waited, as weeks stretched into months. Eventually, Dustin, a Ziyada Co-Founder, flew to the port city where he visited the customs office daily, advocating for the release of our goods.
As our startup capital dwindled, the looming question became: would we even make it off the ground?
The Triumph of Principles
Just weeks before we would have to shut our doors, our shipment was released—no bribe necessary. That first collection sold out almost instantly, validating our belief that integrity, while costly at times, reaps dividends in trust and long-lasting relationships.
Today, Ziyada is more committed than ever to acting with integrity, both within our community and in our business operations. It’s a non-negotiable for us, something we’re willing to stake our future on.
Because in the end, integrity isn’t just a core value; it’s our way of life.