VPO: Let's talk about how it all began; Can you explain what sets
Compassion Couture apart and what motivated you to start your site?
CC (Tracey): Compassion Couture is unique for a few reasons but there are two
main factors that differentiate us from most all-vegan stores. First off, we place
a lot of importance on the impact we make on the world around us so we make
sure that all the brands we sell (in addition to being 100% animal friendly) share
this value as well. Each brand approaches this from a different aspect that they
feel is important, such as using recycled or repurposed materials, manufacturing
locally under fair trade practices, using low-impact dyes, water based glues, etc.
The second thing that I think sets us apart from the rest is that we hand-pick every
item sold on our site. Both of us have our own unique sense of style and we
collaborate before placing any orders for merchandise. This means you will not
find an item on our e-boutique that either Jill or I (or both of us) would not want for
VPO: Are you vegan/vegetarian? What was the path that led you towards living a
more compassionate lifestyle?
CC (Tracey): Both of us have always been animal lovers but it took reading a
book a few years ago to truly our open our eyes to the realities behind factory
farming and animal abuse in the food and fashion industry. After having that
knowledge, I went completely vegan basically overnight. Being that Jill and I are
so close, that knowledge rubbed off and she followed in my footsteps shortly
thereafter, giving up eating meat and refusing to buy leather or other animal
products for fashion.
VPO: Do you find that there is a demand for high end cruelty-free boutique items?
CC (Tracey): Yes there definitely is a demand out there. We started Compassion
Couture out of our own need for these items in the hopes that there were more
people out there like us. Turns out we were right – we hear from our customers
all the time that they have been frustrated by the limited selection and poor quality
of animal friendly accessories, especially shoes, they’ve resorted to purchasing
in the past. It’s very validating to hear how happy people are when they are
introduced to our shop!
VPO: What is the process for selecting a new product?
CC (Jill): “We first pre-select our brands to make sure that they have lines
that are completely animal product free and take a proactive stance towards
incorporating sustainability into their practices. Once the brands are selected, we
will go through the look books of these brands and pick out our absolute must-
haves, which is really a fun process! We are both very into keeping up with the
latest fashion trends, but also have a unique sense of style. If we don’t agree with
the fashion industry on a certain trend that is out for the season, we won’t go with
it. And, sometimes Tracey and I will agree 100% on which products to pick and
sometimes our opinions differ. But if we go with some must-haves from each of
us, we figure that we will appeal to many different people’s varying tastes.”
VPO: What's your best-selling item?
CC (Tracey): I think the item we’ve had the most interest in is the Olsen Haus
Angel leopard print pump and I can’t say we are surprised. These shoes are definitely one of our
favorites as well. Even though they are on the edgier side, the pump is a timeless
style and the leopard print is a trend that we’ve seen pop up over and over again.
Not to mention that the shoes are much more comfortable than you would expect.
VPO: Is your packaging material also 'green'?
CC (Jill): “Absolutely. Our boxes are all made of recycled post-consumer
recycled materials. Even our thank you cards and business cards are printed on
recycled paper and use soy ink.”
VPO: Are you planning on sticking to boutique items or do you plan on
expanding to other cruelty-free products in the future?
CC (Tracey): High quality and style are extremely important to us and most items
that are well-made and fashion forward have a boutique feel. We would love to
expand to other cruelty-free items just as long as we don’t have to compromise on
these qualities. In the near future, we expect to increase our selection of jewelry
and possibly some bath and body products too – so stay tuned for that.
VPO: There is also mention of a possible physical outlet on your website. What
are the future plans for Compassion Couture?
CC (Jill): “We would LOVE to open a physical store in the future! If we have the
funds, we certainly will do it! For now, we are trying to do as many events as
possible so that people can see just how amazing and high-quality our items are
in person. In my opinion, the pictures on the site just don’t do them justice! We
previously were at the Albany Vegetarian Festival and have the VeganShopUp
in Brooklyn on December 4th, The Green Holiday Festival in New York City on
December 11th and are planning on haivng some trunk shows and pop up shops
in the near future.”
VPO: Do you plan to sell any stuff for men?
CC (Tracey): Although we don’t have any definite plans to do this as of right
now, this is something we would love to do when the time is right. We are kind
of surprised how often we get asked this question but it is indicative that the
demand is out there for when we are ready.
VPO: Aside from starting this great web boutique, are there any other forms of
activism you participate in?
CC (Jill): “We have donated some gifts this season to non-profits including Farm
Sanctuary, The Humane Society and Our Hen House. Our goal is to be able to
partner with these organizations along with other animal-cruelty non-profits in
the future. We would love to be able to offer some of our proceeds to their great
causes as soon as we get our name out there more.”
VPO: Is there anything else you'd like to add?
CC (Tracey): We have some new brands lined up that we are really excited to be
working with so our selection and inventory will definitely be growing – we have
Mink shoes lined up for the spring, have just added Elizabeth’s Kind Café shoes
to our lineup (and she has a number of new designs that we can’t wait to see),
a Love is Mighty order on its way and some other labels that we are currently in