Annick Ireland, founder of the Immaculate Vegan marketplace
Annick Ireland, Founder and CEO of the Immaculate Vegan marketplace
HOZEN: What is Immaculate Vegan?  How and when did you launch?
Annick: Immaculate Vegan is an ethical and sustainable online store that brings together a sophisticated collection of slow fashion and contemporary lifestyle products from around 100 pioneering vegan brands from around the world, including HOZEN. 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.
We don’t hold stock, so when you order a product from us, the item gets shipped from the brand itself. This eliminates needless carbon emissions and use of resources from not having to have the item packaged and shipped to us, and then repackaged and shipped out again to the customer; and not having to run major warehouse operations in addition to those of our brands.  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 there is.  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, 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.
HOZEN:  Who are you trying to reach?  Do you ship worldwide?
Annick: We’re here for everyone who loves fashion and style, but wants to also create a different future where fashion is a force for good, not for harm. For us that’s about creating an offering that looks great, is high quality, and is also kind and respectful to animals, people and the environment. Most of the brands we carry ship worldwide, and we’re also working hard to build up collections in every key region for us, including UK, Europe and the US, so that our customers can choose to shop as locally and sustainably as possible.
Immaculate Vegan brand card
Image via Immaculate Vegan
HOZEN: Why do you like HOZEN?
Annick: Personally I just really love the HOZEN aesthetic – I love the contemporary shapes and gorgeous colours. I also think HOZEN is a great example of what a vegan brand should be: trying to be as sustainable as possible, and using the most sustainable materials it can; caring about how its products are made and ensuring that its workers are treating fairly and responsibly; and all the time not compromising on quality or style.
HOZEN: What are you excited about in the vegan fashion space?  Are you seeing momentum?
Annick: 100%, 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 brands like YATAY, Good Guys Don’t Wear Leather, and HOZEN, to name just three examples, 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 bio-oils, cactus, apple skins, 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.
HOZEN: Last question. Any advice for aspiring entrepreneurs?
Annick: My main advice would be to do it with someone else, preferably someone that has different, complementary skillsets to you. 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 as least as often as the highs).  My other advice would be to be flexible and be willing to pivot when it makes sense – don’t cling on to a vision of how you thought it would be, or your long term business plan, if things have changed and they’re no longer relevant. Keep adapting.
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