KK: Who or what motivated you to start vegan beauty market?
VBM: After becoming vegan I started the process of replacing my traditional products with vegan and natural items. I found several online stores that offered eco-friendly/natural/organic skin care and cosmetics but there was still the hassle of reading every ingredient label for animal products. In addition, I found that some sites labeled items "vegan" but sometimes they actually weren't (often beeswax or honey was in them) or the list of items wasn't complete. You could tell it wasn't a priority to make vegan beauty products readily identifiable. Then, once I did place an order for all vegan products, I'd inevitably receive samples with the shipment that were for non-vegan products. Isn't half the fun of beauty stores the samples? All of this got me to thinking there should be a dedicated vegan beauty store and Vegan Beauty Market was born!
KK: Why did you become a vegan?
VBM: I became vegan after hearing Kathy Stevens, founder of Catskill Animal Sanctuary, speak during a book tour. I had always loved animals so I went to the talk to learn about the sanctuary. While listening to her lecture, it became clear to me that my cat at home wasn't any different than the farm animals that people eat. For me, that really clicked in my head and I immediately became a vegetarian. Since I didn't know any other vegetarians, I started looking online for recipes and nutrition advice which is what led to me being vegan six months after switching to a vegetarian diet. Now being vegan is about animal welfare, health and the environment.
KK: How did you decide what products to include in your store?
VBM: I browsed vegan blogs and websites to see what products were popular. New lines and brands will continually be added and suggestions are definitely welcome! The best resource, I found, is other vegans.
KK: What has been your biggest success so far?
VBM: Getting the store up and running! The store opened at the beginning of July 2011. That was after months and months of work and over a year of planning. Finally seeing the results come to fruition has been wonderful.
KK: What has been your greatest challenge in starting this business?
VBM: With the current economic climate, getting funding was the biggest challenge. But where there is a will, there is definitely a way! And persistence really does pays off. Not everything goes as we plan but being open and creative really help.
KK: What advice would you give to someone starting an eco-friendly business?
VBM: Research, research, research. Anyone starting a business of any kind will benefit greatly from reading business books, magazines and websites. There truly is a ton of information out there but knowing where to find what you need is the real challenge. As for starting and eco-friendly business, the best thing you can do is decide early on what your guiding principles and mission are, then stick with those. It may not be for everyone but if you do something you are passionate about, you create a business that becomes a lifestyle. Persistence pays off so don't get overwhelmed with all there is to do. Take small steps to keep yourself and the venture moving forward.
KK: How would you like your business to grow and change in the future?
VBM: The main goal for the future is to be a beauty destination for vegan gals (and their families). With that in mind the store will grow via customer input. Suggestions for brands/lines and products to carry are welcome!
KK: What are your favorite resources for those looking to transition to a vegan lifestyle?
VBM: A few resources I really like are:
- News & everything vegan: VegNews
- News & health: Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM)
- Recipes & lifestyle: The Kind Diet by Alicia Silverstone and the Kind Life blog
- Recipes: Post Punk Kitchen
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