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Meet Annick

Meet Annick

Today's guest, Annick Ireland: Founder & CEO of Immaculate Vegan.

Howdy!

I hope this finds you in good spirits and even better health.

To our new subscribers - Marija, Olga, Rachel, Rebecca, Charlie, Michelle, Miki, Maureen, Ellena, Emma, Mark, Anushri, V. and B. - welcome! So you know what you're in for, this Sunday newsletter aims to discuss topical sustainability-related er... topics in a fun and engaging well. Well... that's the plan at least!

You can find our newsletter archive, here, with all previous editions in case you're keen to learn about up-and-coming materials or a week in the life of a sustainable fashion founder (i.e. me!)

The Immaculate Vegan website. For all your cruelty-free fashion needs.

Today we are speaking to Annick Ireland, who is the founder of a vegan fashion platform called Immaculate Vegan.

LUXTRA has been selling with Immaculate for some time now, and because we're essentially on the same mission - to make cruelty-free living effortless but also beautiful - we thought it would be fun to introduce you to Annick and her elegantly curated platform.

I hope you'll enjoy reading.

Hi Annick. Would you like to introduce yourself?

I’m Annick, I’m the founder of premium vegan fashion marketplace Immaculate Vegan which I launched with my co-founder Simon almost three years ago. I live in London with my partner and a retired racing greyhound called Dora, and I love cold water swimming, ice-skating, long walks in nature, reading, and eating ALL the vegan food!­

Darling Dora.

Tell us the story of Immaculate Vegan.

I became vegan after adopting a greyhound from the Retired Greyhound Trust making the link between the pets we love and all animals. And it was then that I started looking for vegan alternatives in fashion, starting with nice non leather bags and shoes. To be honest I found switching to vegan food really easy, but fashion was much harder.

After a lot of time spent researching brands on the internet and social media, I found that there were actually many fashion-forward vegan brands out there, but they were hard to find – so I started Immaculate Vegan as an Instagram blog in order to curate and share the best vegan fashion I could find, to help others looking for ethical and sustainable alternatives. I also wanted to elevate the profile of vegan fashion and show people you can be vegan and stylish too! Developing this into a retail platform was a natural next step.

There are quite a few sustainable marketplaces out there but the vast majority aren’t vegan, and are selling items made of leather, wool and silk, which we don’t think is very sustainable! Not only are we 100% vegan, but we also really focus on carrying classically designed, high quality and fashion forward brands and collections that we carefully select and curate ourselves. We have a quite specific aesthetic and quality standard. We also look at sustainability and ethics across the board, focusing on the four key criteria of materials, manufacturing processes, packaging and ethical labour. No brand or retailer is perfect but we try to be as comprehensive as possible.

What's your big dream for Immaculate Vegan?

We started with vegan women’s shoes and bags, so this is the area we are strongest in, but we now really expanding our clothing categories too, and beauty will be a focus in the future too. We’re growing our men's offering, and we’ve recently launched Immaculate Kids. Long term we want to make sure we have a strong offering in every key category in every region around the world, so that customers have a great choice of vegan and sustainable products that they can also buy locally.

However, the ultimate dream is to be the leading vegan lifestyle platform globally, with a portfolio of products and services that enable people to live as ethically, sustainably and beautifully as possible!

Just launched: Immaculate Kids

What positive changes have you seen recently in the fashion industry in regard to veganism?

There’s been a big increase in the levels of interest and engagement with ethical and sustainable fashion from a consumer perspective. It’s driven by a few things coming together – the increasing urgency of climate change issues; an increasing awareness of the damage caused to animals, people and the environment by industrial animal farming; and the same for fast fashion.

What we’ve also seen at the same time, and it’s related, is the launch of lots of new high-end fashion brands in the ethical and sustainable space, so the choice that consumers now have is fantastic.

And the materials have just got better and better too. If you look at the vegan leathers used by premium vegan brands now, the quality is incredible, it’s better than animal leather. And all these brands are using so many great renewable, sustainable sources, with leather made from apple skins, grape skins from the wine industry, cacti, pineapple leaves … You really don’t have to compromise on style or quality anymore if you want to buy ethically and sustainably, and I think the quality and variety of the brands we have on Immaculate Vegan are testament to that.

Why is cruelty-free living important?

For me it’s really simple – it’s about living in accordance with my values, and the kind of world I want to live in. I love animals and believe their right to live – and live without suffering – is as important as our right to do so as humans. And I firmly believe that a vegan, cruelty free lifestyle is vital if we want to create a sustainable future on our planet.

Too cute. And definitely shouldn't be called veal. Photo: Reddit

Can you share some tips for others who may be unsure how to begin their cruelty-free journey?

Overall I would say just go for it, don’t procrastinate – there really are no downsides, only a positive impact for your own health, for others and for the environment. But also – it’s very fine to start small. You don’t have to become 100% vegan overnight, unless of course you want to.

But if you’re anxious about it, or don’t know where to start, just make some simple swaps that you can keep up with not much effort, such as finding some meat-free recipes for a few meals you love; or swapping out your milk for dairy-free alternatives (my favourites are Plenish Cashew Milk and Rebel Kitchen – but there are so many options out there). And then you can add more swaps every week, until you get to where you ultimately want to be. There are also so many support groups, advice and recipes online, so ask for help if you’re struggling or short on ideas, this can and should be a really enjoyable journey!

What's your favourite part of your work?

Probably seeing all the new vegan, ethical & sustainable brands and products that are being launched all the time now, and thinking about who we want to work with. When we started I thought we might struggle to really build a large enough proposition with the right number and quality of brands in all the categories we wanted, but I don’t feel like that at all now, as the market is just booming! And that’s being driven by the rapid increase in consumer demand, which is fantastic to see.

And the most difficult?

Juggling everything and working out what NOT to do!

Which is your favourite LUXTRA product?

I LOVE the Daphne bucket bag, particularly in Ivy – that colour is just divine! I think the apple leather used by LUXTRA in the latest collection is one of the best vegan leathers I have ever seen, it looks so incredibly high end and luxurious. [nawww isn't she sweet!]

Annick's a fan of London institution Mildred's

What are your top 3 things to eat / see / do in London?

  1. Wild swimming at Hampstead Ladies Pond on Hampstead Heath, followed by a walk on the heath and lunch at The Spaniard's Inn (a Grade II listed pub built in 1585).
  2. Eating at any of the amazing Mildred's vegan restaurants (there are several throughout London, all are fab).
  3. An ice-skating session and a walk at Alexandra Palace – on a lovely day you can see all of London from here, and there are lot of great spots for a picnic and a dog walk.

View over London from Alexandra Palace. Photo: Stephan Rudolph.

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Can I just say how exciting (and now easy!) it is to have a one-stop-shop where everything matches my values. I'm obviously biased in terms of my bag choices, but let's just say IV's shoe selection is frequently open in a tab on my laptop.

A final note before I leave you for another week: LUXTRA will be at the Spirit of Summer fair this week in London (June 23-26 inclusive). Come and say hello if you're attending. We're in stall H16!

Happy Sunday everyone.

Jessica

LUXTRA Founder | Vegan Bag & Shoe-aholic | Proud B-Corper
Jessica Kruger, LUXTRA

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