Let me introduce you to Jessica. She is a 25 year old vegan and burgeoning entrepreneur from Toronto who is behind the GoFundMe campaign to create an online vegan fashion boutique, compassioncult.com. I stumbled across Jessica’s Instagram and was immediately drawn to her sense of style. When I learned of her efforts to start an online vegan boutique, I knew that I had to meet the lady behind the vision. Here is a little window into Jessica, why she became vegan and what motivated her to start compassioncult.com.
FV – How long have you been vegan?
Jessica – I’ve been vegan since 2012, making it 4 years last month.
FV – What made you decide to go vegan?
Jessica – It was actually a long process, but the main catalyst was reading “Skinny Bitch”. In the book they’d describe gory details of what actually happens to animals in slaughterhouses. I attempted to eat chicken the next day for lunch and was completely disgusted. I couldn’t eat it, so that day in 2008 I went vegetarian. I attempted veganism a few times during those years but found it hard to stick to. Giving up cheese was probably the toughest thing I’ve ever had to do and learning about sustaining a balanced vegan diet was intimidating and overwhelming at times. When I started dating my ex who was vegan was when I was finally able to completely switch my diet, it was a lot easier having that support and having someone to direct your questions at. Overall my motive for going vegan was always ethically based. I can’t support the meat or dairy industry with the knowledge that I have today
FV – How is it being vegan in Toronto?
Jessica – If you want to go vegan but are concerned that your city might not have a lot to offer in terms of support, move to Toronto! For many reasons, I will defend my city until the end but seriously, being a Toronto vegan is effortless and enjoyable. There are quite a number of vegan restaurants/bakeries, and most places usually have at least one or two options if you’re going out with non-vegans. There’s a huge community of vegans and animal activists from meet up groups to the Toronto Pig Save, there’s something for everyone. We also host Veg-fest every year which showcases different food and fashion vendors, chefs, and seminars on why you should go vegan!
FV – Tell me about your GoFundMe campaign?
Jessica – My gofundme was setup to help raise money for costs of creating a business plan & raising 5%-10% of the grant that I applied for. In order for the government to take my proposal seriously, they need to see that I’m willing to contribute as well, but because of the short timeline, I wasn’t able to do it all on my own. The due date for my submission is March 11th and we’ve raised almost $1000 dollars which is already spoken for by my writer. I’m starting from the bottom but hope to do great things with Compassion Cult.
FV – What made you decide to start an online vegan fashion store?
Jessica – As a consumer and a vegan I was having a hard time finding an online mecca for cruelty free fashion that didn’t involve hemp, or baseball tees with print all over them. Like actual, on trend, fun and chic fashion. Nothing. I saw there was a niche that needed to be filled and I’m ready to be the person to do it and do it right. I have a long career in retail, I’m incredibly passionate about fashion and veganism, so this project is very close to my heart. My goal is to be be the vegan NastyGal online and offer a wide variety of brands– to be a stylish ethical hub.
FV – What would you call your personal style?
Jessica – I find it difficult to pinpoint what my personal style is because I could be such a chameleon. I’m constantly people watching and drawing inspiration from those individuals, then making it my own. I do prefer styling myself to look more edgy, I rarely go far without my faux leather moto jacket but you’ll also catch me rocking super clean lines & simple colors with pops of accessories.
FV – What fashion trends do you see for spring/summer 16? Which ones will you be wearing?
Jessica – I feel like Bohemian is such a reoccurring trend throughout the years and it’s very tried and true. I’m really loving the big embellished belts with two buckles, as well as boots that are also sandals which will be perfect for individuals that suffer in closed toes during the summer heat. Continuing on the boho trend; I’ve been obsessing over the resurgence of wide legged pants. I’ll take them in denim or a bold printed fabric, as long as they’re highwaisted and paired with a cute peasant crop top.
FV – Final question. What would you tell someone about why they should go vegan?
Jessica – I could go on for ages about how disgusting milk is, or how we are not living in the stone ages anymore – but I’m not that type of vegan. I hate shoving my opinions down others throats. If someone is open to leading a vegan diet or just curious about it, I’d definitely mention the positive health benefits, the amount of lives they could be saving, how you can positively impact the environment and that you can still eat all the Oreos you want! If someone has that sparkle of change in their eye, I think the best thing you can do for them is be supportive and try to be an endless source of information through their process.
I hope that you will all join me in wishing the best of luck to Jessica as she embarks on this vegan fashion venture. If you are interested showing her some love, here is the link to her GoFundMe campaign where you can donate! https://www.gofundme.com/h2abtbvg