I am super excited to launch my Healthy Happy Tee Store! I have seriously been living in these tees since they arrived on my doorstep a few days ago.
These tees are both super soft and perfect for those days when you just want to throw on a pair of jeans or leggings and a soft, fun, colorful tee. No-fuss hair and not a stitch of makeup on! Those are the best days, right? And this is your new fave tee for that happy casual day!
Two colors to start things off, heather grey American Apparel track tee and a soft white 50/50 tee. Check out some of my tee pics ... yes I played "model" for a day for my tee photoshoot...
If you are a fan of vegan fashion I'm sure you have heard of Vaute Couture, the super inspiring, beautifully designed, cruelty-free, 100% vegan fashion line created by the talented, effervescent, lovely designer Leanne Mai-ly Hilgart. You can read more about Leanne in my Veggie Girl Power interview from last fall.
Fall Fashion. It is so easy to satisfy your craving for fall fashion (and stay cruelty-free) thanks to Vaute. Warm fall coats, adorable tees, tanks, hats and more are all available from the Vaute Couture online shop - and their flagship fashion boutique in Brooklyn. And this month, Leanne is doing a west coast tour! (details ahead)
GIVEAWAY. One WINGS coat is up for grabs guys! This is a quickie - giveaway entry period closes 11/9/12.
Tour dates/details and this amazing Vaute Couture WINGS Coat Giveaway ahead..
Next up in my 2011 Veggie Girl Power Interview Series is the talented young model-turn-vegan fashion designer Leanne Mai-ly Hilgart. Leanne founded the 100% vegan fashion line Vaute Couture in 2009. Meet Leanne and see how easy it is to be a vegan fashionista (aka, a compassionista)..
Leanne is a veggie superstar. She was named 1 of 7 Best Emerging Green Designers of 2009 by Ecoturre - one of "20 Under 30" by VegNews - and awarded by the Asian American Leadership Council for "Breaking Barriers in Green."
But above all the accolades stands Leanne's straight up creativity, vision and eye for creating fashion that is vibrant, fun, alluring, modern. Vaute oozes with "the cool factor." Watch out Michael Kors.
Leanne's inspiring business persona is matched by her compassionate heart, sweetness and warm personality. My kind of fashion designer (and person!) A few of Leanne's designs (photos via Vaute Couture's online store):
Leanne's adventure into vegan fashion began when she was faced with a common problem among vegans - cold harsh winters and simply nothing (vegan) to wear! Traditional winter coats are plagued with being a mish mash of animal products. From leather to wool and even the unimaginably cruel material of animal fur.
But Leanne didn't wallow in her grief, she took action. And in 2009 (after much research into fabrics) she launched a Limited collection of her Vaute line - to rave reviews. Celebs like Alicia Silverstone and Emily Deschanel were gushing over Leanne's designs.
From sweet bunny tanks to plush winter coats, and even a new accessories line - Leanne's fashion is simply gorgeous. And even better, 100% cruelty free.
Behind the Vaute: Vaute Couture is spelled for "Haute" couture, but with a "V" for vegan. And pronounced like "vote."
And OK, there is one big problem with Leanne's fashion line.... it sells out quickly!! If you want to score one of Leanne's fall coats, be sure to order online early on in the year. Pre-ordering is highly advised. (Be sure to see Upcoming Project News direct from Leanne at the end of the interview below! Did she just say, flagship boutique? Yes!)
2011 Veggie Girl Power Series Interview: Leanne Mai-ly Hilgart
Q1: Sunrise, what is the first food and/or drink you reach for to start your "Veggie Girl Power" day?
Leanne: Depending on the time of year, I either do a bowl of Peanut Butter Puffins with blueberries, matcha green tea powder, and coconut or soy milk, or my latest obsession is a Beet Smoothie with soymilk, kale, blueberries, and mango.
Q2: As a Veggie Girl Power trailblazer you inspire many girls, who or what has inspired you?
Leanne: Reading “Business as Unusual” by Anita Roddick, the founder of the Body Shop, inspired me as I was starting to see business as an amazing vehicle for activism. The Manifesta piece in Eve Ensler’s play “Emotional Creature: the Secret Life of Girls” which says: “Decide if fitting in is more important than finding out what you’re doing here.” Ellen Degeneres. Light. Strangers helping each other out. and being in an orchestra (which I miss dearly!) where everyone is playing their part, all towards a collaborative singular experience.
Q3: When you first went vegan, what was the most challenging aspect of your new lifestyle? How did you overcome those obstacles?
Leanne: My first year vegan was spent in the most non-veg friendly town I’ve lived in: West Lafayette, IN where I was in school at Purdue University, a very large Ag school in the middle of cornfields. When we, the AR group, did Meatouts on campus, people were scared to try a veggie burger, certain it’d taste like cardboard. Eating vegan on campus (besides veggie burgers and fries) wasn’t the easiest thing so I sought out the local health food store (which my friends in the AR group worked at), and my mom would send vegan foods in care packages. Other kids on campus got homemade cookies, I got little cases of sweet red bean from our local Asian supermarket. When I transferred to DePaul in Chicago we had a little part of the food court dedicated to vegan food, and now that I live in NYC, I (nicely!) scoff when people here suggest eating vegan is difficult.
Q4: When people ask you why you 'went vegan' what is your usual response?
Leanne: I went vegetarian when I was ten and did my Social Studies fair project on Factory Farming, Vivisection, and the Fur Industry. I went vegan 8 years later when I realized that the dairy and veal industries are one in the same, if veal is the first thing off my list, how could I eat dairy? Once you know what goes on behind foods, you can never look at them the same.
Q5: What is the one message that you always try to project to your fans/followers?
Leanne: Vegan is a choice of empowerment, to think of others (despite species) in your daily life is strength, not sacrifice.
Q6: Vegans love to share their knowledge about food and nutrition, what is an interesting food fact you love to share with people?
Leanne: Vegetarians live on average 8 years longer, vegans 11 years.
Q7: Vegans don't live on carrot sticks and hummus alone, give us your most creative/delicious vegan snack idea!
Leanne: Since I’m from the Midwest, I’m a comfort food girl -- love making Grilled PB&J with a tall glass of ice cold soy milk. I was bummed and jealous when my college roomies made their Grilled Cheese’s before there was Daiya, so I started making grilled PB&J, which melts the peanut butter to a really extra yummy consistency.
Q8: Words to live by: what is a favorite life tip or quote of wisdom?
Leanne: I once wrote this in chalk all over my magenta chalkboard office wall so I could stare at it everyday as I was starting Vaute Couture, it helped me get over second guessing myself and realize that action itself is most of the battle:
"Do your best to pick a direction (hopefully an unusual one, hopefully one you have resources to complete, hopefully one you can do authentically and hopefully one you enjoy) and then do it. Loudly. With patience and passion. No flitting, no waiting for proof. Just consistent, overwhelming performance in pursuit of a vision you believe in. That's far more important than which direction you chose in the first place." ~ Seth Godin
Q9: How do you respond to negative comments from those critical of a vegan lifestyle - both online and in the real world?
Leanne: I just try to focus on what most people have in common, that we all want to try to make the world a better place and consider ourselves as kind individuals who want to lessen the suffering of others. People get critical usually when they are defensive or feel they’re being judged (even when they aren’t), but since most vegans at one time were not vegan, I like to approach them from the standpoint of someone who might realize that a vegan lifestyle fits their morals and isn’t as hard as they think.
Q10: What vegan ingredients and/or vegan products have you discovered that you simply couldn't live without?
Leanne: Matcha green tea powder, it’s my favorite flavor and feels so darn good at once (especially if I’m feeling s-l-o-w that day). I make matcha smoothies, cereal (see #1), cupcakes, and of course, lattes. I also love some junky vegan food - like Tofurkey Pepperoni pizzas, Temptation Vegan Cookie Dough Ice Cream, and Sweet & Sara S’mores. As far as products go - I’m crazy for everything from Alba as well as the scents from Terranova, their Sakura & Green Tea and Shea Blossom perfume essence are the only scents I wear.
Connect with Leanne:
Facebook - Vaute Couture
Website - www.vautecouture.com
Vaute Couture Blog - On Our Sleeve
PHOTO CREDIT: (top photo of Leanne: Thomas H Smith III)
Upcoming Project News for Vaute Couture direct from Leanne!..
We are just finishing NYC production of our 3rd collection of winter coats that are at once vegan, stylish, and warm enough for a real winter, using high tech custom made vegan & eco conscious fabrics.
We just launched our new accessories: colorful earmuffs & hand-knit headbands and hats. I’m currently on my North American Pop UP shop Tour which included the West Coast (San Francisco, LA and Portland), NYC, and DC, and will include Chicago (Nov 5-6), and Toronto & Montreal in mid December, as well as Holiday shops in NYC and DC.
I’m looking at opening our first flagship boutique in NYC this year. Also, every year I fund production with a pre-order discount, so those who order early get a big discount and first pick at the new styles and colors before they sell out. If your favorite is already soldout this year, sign up on the newsletter here (www.vautecouture.com/index.htm) to be ready next year!
Check out all the interviews in this year's VGP series! Five more ladies to come.
Craving: Vegan Shoes for Summer. Even after I went vegan with my diet, it took me a while to absorb the fact that 'vegan' can mean more than what is on your dinner plate.
Embracing fashion that is animal product free seems like the right choice for any animal lover. But I'll admit, finding vegan fashion is not always easy. But it's getting easier! So when I recently needed some new casual shoes, I was thrilled to find more than a few stylish and fun options. Let me share my fave finds with you.
Craving High Vegan Fashion? Don't worry green fashionistas, in this post you'll also find my list of web links to high-fashion, celeb-embraced, vegan shoe designers. Designers like Stella M and Elizabeth Olsen are perfect for all you ECO-savvy, runway-oogling ladies out there who want more than comfy and cute summer shoes.
Here are my top five fave vegan shoes/brands for the summer season. I'm in love with my number one pick...
I confess. I have leather shoes in my closet and sometimes I wear them. But the past few years, I've been gladly re-stocking my closet piece by piece with green, animal-product-free fashion that makes me feel good (and look smart).
Vegan, Beyond Food. You may order the veggie burger and comb each ingredient on food labels, checking for animal products - but do you know what products in your office, car, bathroom, living room and closet are animal product free? There aren't ingredient labels on couches, right? But body products and fashion tags are another story. Just the other day I noticed gelatin on the list of ingredients in my hand soap (those tiny moisture beads were the culprit). Be a smart shopper and read those labels - it's always a good idea to know exactly what is going in (and on) your body.
Vegan Fashion is In. Thank goodness vegan fashion has become quite modern and chic thanks to ECO-savvy designers like Stella McCartney and Olsen Haus, fashion trendsetters like Chloe Jo from Girlie Girl Army and ECO-savvy models like Summer Rayne Oakes. And even guys can get in on the green fashion trends with The Discerning Brute.
Vegan Shoes. But for me, the biggest challenge was with my footwear....
Craving New Shoes???...
Before my list, here are a few more ECO Shoe Links...:
Are you a High Fashion-ECO-ista? Here are some other super fashion-forward brands with sexy vegan heels and cute summer sandals...
*Olsen Haus - Pure amazingness for the vegan shoe-aholics who crave high fashion.
*Stella McCartney - High celeb-loving fashion that stomps out the competition in the pages of Vogue - and on the fashion week runways. Amazing.
*Beyond Skin - UK brand with some sleek, sexy shoes - vegan bridal shoes too!
*Mink Shoes - Super California-fashion-forward line of shoes to keep your feet looking fantasticly Paris Hilton-ish. Pretty!
*Neuaura Shoes - Sassy chic shoes to peruse at affordable fashionista prices.
*Ekovaruhuset - Scandinavian company with a drool-worthy store on Ludlow st in NYC. ECO fashion galore.
*Kailia - ECO-Vegan shoes that scream fashionista..
*Vionnet Boutique - OK, so not really shoes, but for some amazing cruelty-free fashion in lala land - check them out.
#TotallyAffordable: I recently saw an article about Payless Shoes teaming up with Zac and Zoe for a green vegan shoe line. So if you are into Payless. Check out these Payless green fashion styles at very affordable prices.
Want more info on animal products in fashion? Happy Cow has a quickie run-down.
Vegan Shoes: Summer Styles for Everyone - My Top Five Brands
OK, OK another confession. In my own mind, I hate Crocs. I vowed I would never ever buy a pair simply because they were kinda grubby looking and who wants to look like Mario Batali anyways?? I would say, cool for Chefs in a kitchen, but not street wear!
Well I did my research after cruising by the new glamorous Crocs store in SoHo NYC - and guess what? Crocs are kinda really cool! OK, so again, I've never tried on a pair. But the vegan styles I found online definitely perked my interest. Note: Not all Crocs are vegan. Stick with the croslight single molded shoes for vegan-friendly feet. Reasonable prices too. My faves were the $39.99 Alice Work (below) and the Sately (right)...
Crocs Alice Work:
Simple shoes are shoes for a happy planet. They strive to create sustainable shoes that respect the earth - and your feet. They have a nice selection of casual vegan shoes. I liked their flippee flip flip shoes as well as these super jazzy canvas ballet style shoes (totally teen approved): Carousel Leopard. Reasonable prices for high quality casuals. Prices $30-$55 range.
I bought a comfy pair of Earth shoes a few weeks ago at Moo Shoes and I love them. Super light and they have something called negative heel technology that makes you basically walk differently, better. They claim you burn more calories as well, but I didn't realize that until after my purchase. (I think I burn enough calories trekking through NYC everyday thank you!)
While at Moo Shoes, I also saw these bright shiny yellow Earth rain boots and I fell in love. Super light and they are so eye catching. If you want the perfect vegan rain boot - here it is. Heck, wear them on a sunny day. Sidenotes: 1) Not all Earth shoes are vegan. So be peruse the vegan styles only. 2) Sadly, the shoes I purchased were in very limited stock and I believe discontinued - or I would post a link. Check Earth for new styles online now- and in the future.
2. Anything at Moo Shoes.
I mentioned Moo Shoes above. Well if you don't know, Moo Shoes LES store is a super fabulous place to shop for your perfect pair of vegan shoes - no matter what you are seeking. A wide variety of styles will please moutain trekkers, city-dwellers, fashionistas and even beach bums. Moo Shoes store is pretty much the coolest!
...Well, maybe I'm factoring in the fact that they give away free "Anti-Fur" heart pins, they have an adorable resident desk-dwelling fuzzy black and white cat and they are just a block away from Babycakes Bakery...so even if you don't find your perfect pair of new shoes, you can at least cash in on treating yourself to a vegan cupcake, brownie, doughnut or my fave, the cinnamon toastie. I digress. Here are a few super chic shoes I found at Moo Shoes. You can buy Moo Shoes online too. But be warned, Moo Shoes' stock sells out fast, so check for new arrivals often.
Allure Shoe, Heart of Darkness, $90:
Poppy Shoes from Novacas, $109:
1. TOMS Shoes!
I am becoming a Tom's Shoes groupie. I am in love with my brand new summer season Tom's Pink Murray shoes. They arrived yesterday. I had an extra bounce in my step this morning as I took them out for a spin while doing my morning errands. Prancing along the NYC sidewalks, my feet were super cozy and these shoes passed my shoe comfort test. They remind me of ballet slippers. I was literally doing twirls down my apartment staircase this morning.
Plus, for every pair of shoes you buy, Tom's donates a pair to a child in need. How awesome is that? Shoes with a soul. Plus they come in a cute box with your very own Tom's Shoes 'flag'. Take a photo of your Tom's flag and shoes somewhere exotic and email it in. See the fan pics on Tom's website.
Here are my shoe pics I quickly took with my cell phone this morning. Love these shoes. I will be wearing them all summer long, and I'm tempted to get a second pair in a different pattern. Note: not all Tom's shoes styles are vegan, but they have a vegan-friendly category which makes it easy to peruse online. They have some awesome boots too. Find Vegan TOMS Shoes!
TOMs Vegan Shoe label...
100% VEGAN Lines? I received a comment from a reader who noted that a few of the brands in my list promote leather-containing footwear. Read my answer to this concern in the comments section.
*note all product images (except for the tom's shoes) were pulled from brand websites: crocs, mooshoes, earth, simple.
Even my kitty like TOMs...