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Vegan Style With Annick Ireland; Founder of Immaculate Vegan

Use code: ULA10

for 10% off your purchase at Immaculate Vegan

How did Immaculate Vegan take form?

I became vegan a few years ago and initially found it difficult to find beautiful, high quality

fashion that was also vegan and sustainable. 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 – and 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.

For someone who doesn’t know anything about vegan leather or the impact traditional leather has on our animals and earth, where would you start the conversation?

This is one of the things we get asked about the most, and we actually have a couple of

articles on it, one covering the impact of animal leather, and another on everything you’d

want to know about vegan leather. I would start the conversation by explaining that –

contrary to its image as a natural and sustainable material – animal leather is actually one of

the most environmentally harmful materials used in fashion, significantly worse than even

plastic-based vegan leather. But I’d also want to talk about the amazing vegan leathers

available now that are primarily plant-based, and much more sustainable than what’s

existed before.

Is there one type of vegan leather you find most innovative or fascinating?

There are so many amazing new vegan leathers now like cactus leather, apple leather,

pineapple leather – and new innovations are taking place all the time. In addition, some

vegan brands use a plant-based plastic made from bio-polyoils from cereal crops which is

biodegradable – and it feels and looks incredibly like animal leather. Brands working with

this sustainable vegan leather include Watson & Wolfe, YATAY and Good Guys.

I think we’re all on a sustainability journey, as it’s very hard to be 100% sustainable all the

time, so it’s about doing the best we can with what’s available at the time. I’m particularly

interested in the next generation of plant-based vegan leathers that are using less or no

plastic, and making more use of waste or renewable products.

What has been the most challenging part of starting your own sustainable vegan

company? What has been the most rewarding part?

There are so many challenges to running a business, from operational ones (like making sure

we have the technology to sell multiple brands from around the world, to customers around

the world, with different shipping, and cross border taxes!); to constantly working to find

the best vegan brands out there and getting them onto our site; to raising our first round of

investment. I don’t think it’s one thing, but it’s juggling all these things.

But there are lots of rewards too! I’m very lucky in that I work with a wonderful team, and

lots of amazing brands, where we have shared values and a shared purpose; and I have a job

that’s varied, dynamic, and never boring; but the biggest thing is in being focused

on something that ultimately (if it’s successful) will help animals, people and the planet, and

help change the status quo. Which I find very motivating.

I also find the response we’ve had from our customers very rewarding. It’s summed up for me in

this feedback from one: “Finally a single source for exquisite products! I am so tired of only

casual options and poor quality products for vegans. We go to events, we want to look nice,

we want to say. oh, you like my shoes? They’re vegan! [I’ve been] aching for new savvy

products on one site! You nailed it! You have a customer for life.”

What does your typical day look like?

As the leader of a small but fast growing business, it’s always super busy and diverse!

Covering everything from a team catch up, strategy meeting, a catch up with our digital

agency, creating marketing emails, working on social posts and stories, doing an interview

or podcast, planning the next set of articles for our online magazine, talking to a potential

investor – the list is endless. And I love it!

What is your go-to outfit when you need an infusion of confidence?

I like quite minimalist classic designs, and also comfort! So I would go for a maxi dress in

vegan silk by Neu Nomads, paired with a simple tote in either apple or cactus leather by

LUXTRA London, and these white Irori trainers by YATAY.

Favorite sources for inspiration? Favorite sustainable fashion resources?

I love Marie Claire’s sustainability podcast called Start Somewhere, and the Good On You

website is great for understanding more about sustainability and ethics in fashion and how

different brands are rated.

What is the best career advice you’ve ever received?

Not to feel you have to solve all problems yourself but to always build a team of people with

different skills and experiences, that will be much stronger and resilient as a collective. I’ve

tried to follow this when building teams in my old corporate environment, and I’m very

grateful to have a great co-founder for Immaculate Vegan. Launching a new business is

really challenging in so many ways (as well as exciting and motivating), and you need so

many different skills to run all aspects of the business, covering marketing, content, sales,

design, finance, legal, operations… You can’t cover it all yourself. The other benefits of

partnering up is that each of you can give perspective to the other when they need it, and

help each other through the lows (which occur at least as often as the highs!)

What’s on the horizon for Immaculate Vegan and what are you most excited about?

We started with vegan women’s shoes and bags, so this is the area we are strongest in, but we are now really expanding our clothing categories too. We will also grow our men’s offering,

which is currently pretty small, and we plan to launch Immaculate Kids soon. Ultimately 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.

Use code: ULA10

for 10% off your purchase at Immaculate Vegan


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