When it comes to getting our sunglasses out there, we are proud to be stocked in some stores across the world. The teams behind these independent stockists are nothing short of miraculous, setting out to promote positive fashion, sourcing vegan, ethical and sustainable brands of all shapes and sizes and championing them to their customer. Here at Pala we value them as partners and reckon they deserve some hard earned praise, especially as they adapt to this decidedly uncertain time.
The next in our series of interviews takes a behind the scenes look at one of our most talked about online retailers, Immaculate Vegan. Since day one they have valued a high quality shopping and customer service experience, knowing that shopping vegan, sustainable or ethical brands shouldn’t be a challenge. Their mission is to help push forwards the shift to us all shopping smart and shopping kind. For the many, not the few. We chatted to founder Annick Ireland to find out a bit more about why she started the online store, how they are coping in a period of change, and what’s up next as we look ahead to the future of fashion.
What’s the story behind starting up Immaculate Vegan?
I became vegetarian after adopting a greyhound from the Retired Greyhound Trust, and making the link between the pets we love and all animals; and then soon after that the penny finally dropped and I became vegan. But I initially found it hard to find really high quality and on trend vegan products, particularly vegan bags, shoes and accessories. After a LOT of time on Instagram I finally found several gorgeous brands, but what struck me was that as a committed vegan it was still sometimes hard to find what I was looking for – and in all likelihood the average ‘conscious consumer’ who’s just looking to make some better choices wouldn’t find them.
Real, impactful change will only come from persuading the many, not the few, to choose more ethically and sustainably. And I firmly believe that to achieve change on a large scale, the alternative needs to look more beautiful, more sexy, and more aspirational than the status quo. And it needs to be presented without judgement.
So I founded Immaculate Vegan to do that. Our mission is to help drive the shift to an ethical and sustainable lifestyle that optimises happiness and wellness, for the many not the few. And we believe we can do this by changing the perception of the vegan lifestyle – from alternative to aspirational; and from limiting to transformational.
What are your values?
We are 100% vegan and cruelty free, and so compassion and respect for our environment, animals and human beings is key to what we’re about.
Sustainability is also really important to us, and we set high standards. Every product we sell has to not only be beautifully designed and well made, but we want the materials or ingredients to be some of the best available. And we choose brands who are either using or genuinely working towards the most sustainable supply chains, ways of working and product packaging. Sustainability is about so many things – materials, production processes, labour practices, packaging, shipping – and it’s hard for brands to be perfect in every area, but we pick brands who strive for the best.
What are you are doing to adapt to the current COVID 19 crisis?
I should highlight that online orders are still being sent worldwide, and that Immaculate Vegan and our community of brands are very much open for business. But we know this a very challenging time for many, particularly financially, and so rather focusing our messaging on selling our products, we have moved to focusing more on creating informative, entertaining and inspirational content for our audience, that helps them make positive life changes, build new healthy habits, and stay mentally and physically well over the upcoming period.
We have launched Immaculate IGTV on Instagram, which we’re using to help tell the unique stories of our amazing brands; and we have really ramped up our Editorial section on our site, including articles on 10 Reasons Why Now is the Time to Try a Vegan Diet, How to Try a Vegan Lifestyle, How to Create a Sustainable Wardrobe, Can Leather Be Ethical, The Dirty Secrets of the Exotic Skins Trade – Why You Should Go Faux and many more. We’ll be focusing more and more on this over the next months.
What do you think the impact of this crisis will be on the fashion industry?
While these are very difficult times for everyone, when it passes (which it will) we believe there will be an increased awareness of, and demand for, sustainable products that take the welfare of people, animals and the planet seriously.
And sustainability isn’t just about what a product is made from, or how it’s made – it’s also about how much we consume. Fast fashion, that is all about creating constant demand and encouraging over-consumption, is completely unsustainable, whatever products are being consumed, as the world’s resources are finite. So we believe there will be a greater demand for slow fashion, which is about much better quality products that really last, and classically designed items that don’t go out of fashion. That’s what Immaculate Vegan is all about.
So if anything good will come out of this, it will be that old manufacturing, trading and consumption habits, which disrespect the environment and our natural resources so much, will be questioned, and in many cases left behind. We are all in our many different ways leading this change – retailers, brands and consumers – so let’s together make sure we use this situation to move with momentum to a better, fairer and more sustainable future.
Plans for the future
We have just started on the Immaculate Vegan journey, and we have big plans for the future! We want to develop our editorial much more, and become much more of a content platform, that can help influence and inspire consumer behaviour in terms of living more ethically and sustainably. The team is working hard to grow our brand list around the world, and we are developing several key new categories, including Eyewear, Clothing, Underwear, Nightwear, Activewear, and Homeware. We’re about to launch Worldwide Shipping. Oh, and we have plans to build our team so that we can really scale up and reach as wide an audience as possible!
Supporting our extended family means thanking those who make it possible for you to see our shades, all over the world. Find your nearest stockist, or more behind the scenes chat with our network of stores, check out more stories below.
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Felicia is our ‘camera ninja’ when it comes to photography for the Pala website. Hailing from Sweden, but now based close to the Pala Brighton HQ. When she’s not exercising her skills of mind control to make models relax on shoots you’ll find her in a cafe enjoying a good cup of coffee, or at home baking cinnamon buns.
Emma is our marketing guru. When Emma isn’t planning, strategizing and creating content, she can be found travelling the world exploring its wonders, or in more recent times – headphones on with a paintbrush in her hand creating an abstract masterpiece!
Mary is the team leader of the Care4basket project in Bolgatanga, Ghana. When Mary is not organising and supporting the work across the communities, you will find her sowing sweet potatoes, ground nut, millet and looking after the animals on the farm.
Izzy is our Sales and Comms mastermind. When Izzy isn’t throwing herself down a mountain on a snowboard, she can normally be found rummaging through vintage shops or pounding the fields with her beloved puppy, Mac. She once mislaid a finger on a night out (eek!) – girl knows how to party!
Justin is our ‘Film Alchemist’. When he’s not laying on the floor looking for the next shot he’s either exploring the finest bourbons and listening to obscure country music tracks from the 50s and 60s. Normally found planning his next trip abroad or fuelling the pineapple on pizza debate. Just so you know he’s firmly in the Hawaiian camp!