Interview with Maija, creator of Vegan Fox , on vegan.lv
How did the idea for your own cosmetics brand come about?
The idea came from a simple question asked by many of our friends - which cosmetics are truly vegan? That was 5 years ago. Going through the ingredients lists was getting boring and tiresome, so the solution seemed simpler than simple - to make our own truly vegan cosmetics. We raised seed capital from friends and family, used incubator support from LIAA and that's how it all started with a small family business. I had to make one of the hardest decisions of my life - to leave a well-paid job in a big company, but the inner feeling that I got over time that I could do something from my heart is definitely worth it. I wish everyone to find a job or hobby that is in line with their values in life.
Why was it important to produce vegan cosmetics and how did the brand name Vegan Fox come about?
I think the reasons have to be found in my early childhood, when I shed a lot of tears working summers on a cow farm and dreaming of freeing all the animals, and when every child's dream of having a pet was not fulfilled. I also hated the circus since I was a little kid and was afraid of being in rooms with hunting trophies - I didn't understand why then, of course. It's all added up and accumulated over the years, so now I can't imagine using a cream with anything from animals in it, let alone testing it on animals. I am also very concerned about environmental issues, which are very closely linked to the livestock industry these days. So it was only natural to create a cosmetic where these issues are not discussed and which is in line with my principles. Nothing from animals, nothing (neither product nor raw materials) has been tested on animals.
We searched for a long time for a name, we wanted to make it clear that the products are vegan. We have a simple old video on our Facebook profile of a curious fox running in the woods and watching a person he meets. This happened here in Latvia with a good friend of ours. In a way, the fox came up in our name and then suddenly there was no doubt that Vegan Fox was the right name. Amusingly, non-vegans wonder the most - is the fox vegan? There are so many cosmetic brands in the world and everyone can find what they like best. There are fantastic opportunities to make your own favourite cosmetics at home, and I did that 10 years ago. We make and package all our products by hand right here in Latvia. We use natural oils, so some of our cosmetics have a relatively short shelf life. We do not use heavy chemicals, parabens, PEGs, mineral oils or GMOs. We also do not use gluten or soy. But the real power of our brand is what we do in our spare time - helping animal shelters, organising clean-ups, planting forests. All of these things help to improve the lives of our little friends. We do all this together with our friends, family and children because we believe it is meaningful and these small achievements bring us joy and satisfaction. The company does not yet earn enough to do anything truly spectacular in the field of animal aid, but by buying our products, everyone can be sure that they will not only be buying quality cosmetics, but also helping a small family business to do more good.
What is the mission of Vegan Fox ?
To produce vegan, high quality and ethical cosmetics and use the money to support activities that make the world greener and life safer for animals. Everything we do now, but on a bigger scale!
How easy is it to be a vegan company in Latvia? What are the main obstacles?
We think it's kind of cool. We position ourselves clearly and our customers have no doubt that they are making a good choice. The public is very diverse - some people see veganism as a kind of show-off and fashion thing, while others are fully aware and take it for granted as a way of life. I trust that my own people will understand their own people and I really don't want to sell to everyone and as much as possible, I want the right people to find the right products. One of our hard home jobs was to get the Vegan Society certification, it took a lot of time and energy to get all the paperwork done, but it gives you real reassurance that all the products are vegan, that nothing has been missed.
I know you have a big family. Tell us more about your personal and family experience with veganism!
I come from a big Latvian family, where they like to joke about vegans. I myself stopped eating meat completely 5 years ago when we started Vegan Fox business and over time I came to a vegan lifestyle. The transition was easy and natural, without forcing myself or my body. The body has switched to a plant-based diet and now meat and fish trigger a mind and body backlash. I have always had low iron levels and low blood pressure, but now my blood tests have improved. Occasionally, I have a slice of cheese or a spoonful of honey from my relatives' farm.
We have 5 children in our family and each one of us has to determine our own menu. My vegan ally is my 13-year-old daughter Nora, whose main motivation is not to hurt animals. The rest of the family is also keen on non-vegan food, but I have got everyone used to eating legumes, vegetables, cereals, soya and salads as part of their daily meals, and it's rare to find a dish in our house that a vegan would cringe at. I believe that everyone naturally has to make their own choices, I can help and support
Your wish / advice for those who are considering trying a vegan lifestyle?
A gradual approach seems more appropriate to me. Slowly reduce the amount of meat, fish, dairy in your diet and experiment with different vegan foods. There are fantastic opportunities nowadays - there are so many different sources of information about recipes, I myself am inspired by these blogs, and the offer in the shops is expanding, it's just a matter of getting started and introducing different new traditions into your kitchen. For those who don't feel full without the taste of meat, soya and legume products are a good choice, as they can really compensate for meat with the help of spices. We have experimented on friends who thought they were eating mincemeat sauce but were actually having a 100% vegan dinner.
I am delighted when someone gradually halves their meat consumption rather than suddenly trying out a vegan lifestyle for a week and then proudly announcing that it is not for them. I recommend that you choose vegan cosmetics, household chemicals and other everyday products as much as possible, you don't have to be vegan to do that.
Be safe, be creative and let's respect nature and animals!