Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Interview with the Founder of Viva La Vegan - Jay Charlton

Story behind VLV and why She started the brand

I started with the love for animals. Then it expanded to making the world a better place and to spread the message of veganism. “Go Green is the new black, compassion the new lifestyle fashion that is more than a trend.” I love to play with colour, texture and clothes that make a statement.
I spent many years abroad travelling the world hands on sourcing and meetings. I slowly became aware of, and disheartened by the darker side of the industry and the trend for disposable fast-fashion which goes against many of my own feelings of how we should treat the earth, resources and people.
Sunshine and good fortune brought me to Tel-Aviv, I was surrounded by passionate animal rights supporters, vegans and vegetarians and eco-enthusiasts who believe that we need to bring about positive change by owning our own actions and walking the talk. This desire to make a difference was infectious. One vivid dream, an inspired night of frantic sketching and the seeds of Viva La Vegan were sewn.

How do you make sure your clothing line is sustainable?

Organic cotton is more sustainable than its non-organic brother, but sustainability is not one of my USPs. The core ethos of VLV is organic fabric, water based dye-stuff, pebble wash finishing – all of which limit the wearers exposer to the chemicals normally associated with mainstream fashion and ethical audited factories adhering with the ETI base code.

Does it have anything to do with politics or simply trying to make a statement?

The brand is a Vegan statement wear brand with no political affiliation. Its statements transcend politics as they are related to global issues of compassion and ecology, waited towards veganism and animals rights.
Although the statement is more than the graphic on the front, it is in choice of fabric:
The social justice of its very fibers from field to factory to store (i.e.: The garments are made in factories that work in accordance to the ETI base code) and environmental – our tees are either 100% organic cotton (GOTS approved) or organic cotton mix (50% organic cotton / 50% Modal)

Would you collaborate with department stores such as Selfridges and why?

I would collaborate with any outlet that endorsed the brand ethos and furthered its reach. Although due to its niche nature I am not sure that it would appeal to Selfridges core customers. I am however currently drawing up ideas for an organic and ethical yoga wear collection that will be a separate brand on the VLV website. Which I believe will have a broader appeal outside of the vegan market. As people become more aware of the working conditions of many of those in the fashion industry, (Highlighted by incidents such as the 2012 Rana Plaza, Disaster in Bangladesh that has tarred a lot of the fast fashion brands on the high street.)
The great hand feel and wash of the organic garments speak for themselves and have wide appeal outside of its niche and keep customers coming back for new styles. Organic, Ethical clothing ‘slower’ fashion will have to become the norm it’s not if but when.

What are the top tips you can give to those who want to start a business?

  1. Know your target market
  2. Do more researches than you need to
  3. Find out the missing gap in the market; Unique selling point
  4. Have a thick skin and the ability to survive on little sleep
  5. Trail any product in small quantity even if the unit price is higher. It prevents you from being stuck with a lot of stock that won’t sell
  6. Get to know your customers
  7. Be mindful of your supplier chain – be ethical. Time is changing people who become more aware of social justice.

After this interview, I learnt so much about being ethical and sustainable. Ethical and sustainable clothing are not the most affordable options. But if you put yourself into other’s perspective, you will understand that some people are suffering, working late nights, being treated unethically to produce the fast fashion affordable clothing we all love. I believe what goes around comes around so I rather buy clothing from labels that are ethically produced in less quantity and also look into sustainable clothing. I will certainly be more selective with what I add into my wardrobe from now on.

For more information, check out their online platforms 
Official webpage http://www.viva-la-vegan.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/vivalaveganlife/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/vivalavegans/