As you know, we collaborate with a few vegan marketplaces out there. We're always very selective as to whom we stock our handbags with. Immaculate Vegan is without doubt one of our favourite marketplace - brilliant edit of independent fashion, beauty and lifestyle brands! Immaculate Vegan, says it all. Now, we'd like to introduce to you the founder and CEO of IV, Annick Ireland. Enjoy the below read :)
1. Can you introduce yourself to us as the founder of Immaculate Vegan?
My background is in marketing and strategy, and I worked for many years as a Chief Marketing Officer for large media companies, and then as a marketing strategy consultant. I became vegan in 2016 after adopting a greyhound from the Retired Greyhound Trust and making the connection between the pets we love and all other animals; and I decided to change my career and start Immaculate Vegan at the end of a couple of years later – I’ve never looked back!
2. What incentivised the launch of IV?
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!
3. What is a typical day like for you?
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!
4. Which is the most influential luxury brand that you admire and why?
Well FERRON is definitely one! A brand I really love right now is YATAY, who make gorgeous vegan trainers with their own plant-based vegan leather that’s made from oils from cereal crops – they have the most beautiful, classic minimalist designs and lots of celebrity fans, including Benedict Cumberbatch and David Beckham. And I also really admire Good Guys Don’t Wear Leather, a French footwear brand that was one of the first fashionable vegan brands on the market, and are one of our bestselling brands at Immaculate. They’re also loved by many, including Emma Watson, they’re constantly looking at how they can use more and more sustainable materials, including apple leather and other plant-based leathers, and they bring out bigger and better collections every season.
5. We love what IV stands for beautiful and high-quality products that are cruelty-free and support real craftsmanship. Can tell us why the sustainability factor is so important for you throughout brand building?
Ultimately we exist to help people find and support brands and products that are
kind to people, animals and the planet. Being vegan is an essential part of this, as animal materials like leather, wool and silk are some of the most unsustainable materials used in fashion, as well as being unethical. However you can be vegan and not sustainable, and we want to make sure we sell products that use the most planet-friendly materials, manufacturing and packaging that are available. I think we’re all on a sustainability journey as it’s very hard to be 100% sustainable, so it’s about doing the best we can with what’s available at the time.
6. What has been the most challenging yet rewarding barrier you faced and how did overcome it, business wise?
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 are 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, and the thing that has helped me the most is having a brilliant co-founder and team to support me.
7. In which areas are you looking to grow and expand IV in the next 3-5 years?
We started with vegan women’s shoes and bags, so this is the area we are strongest in, but we 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 too. 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.
8. Why is FERRON at IV?
FERRON is a great Immaculate brand, as it epitomises elegant, minimalist style and beautiful design (which is seasonless and cuts across fast fashion trends); whilst also being a brand with purpose and amazing values – for example, I love that FERRON actively supports wildlife protection projects such as Sheldrick Wildlife Trust's elephant orphanage in Kenya.