Unless you’ve been living in a cave eating moss for the last two years, you’re likely to have come across award-winning cruelty-free watch company Votch, which launched in the second half of 2016. Run by Laura Way and Rolo, her rehomed (smaller than most rabbits) pooch, Votch is a labour of love born out of a practical desire to find a stylish watch with a vegan strap, that has become an impressive commercial success, selling thousands of watches since launch, and with 30+ stockists in eight countries (also see my Five Best Vegan Watches article).
Despite no background in fashion or product design, Laura has created a true fashion success story with Votch, and is constantly researching the most innovative fabrics to use in her watches, and developing the designs (there are now four collections, including one using Pinatex).
Votch is as uncompromising in its company values, ensuring its carefully-selected factory in China meets its high ethical standards, and donating 10% of all profits to a different (animal-based) partner charity every three months.
We put Laura through the Immaculate Interview.
What three words would you use to describe your style?
Casual, timeless, thoughtful.
What are your favourite brands?
I love Filbert, Matt & Nat, By Blanch and Lee Coren.
What is your most treasured fashion item?
I adore a Laura Lee rabbit necklace my husband gave me – rabbit is my nickname and I always get comments on it!
What’s been your biggest fashion mistake?
When I was 12 I went to a school disco head to toe in blue. Blue PVC trousers (ouch on so many levels), blue t-shirt, mascara, lipstick, eyeshadow – it wasn’t fancy dress, I just thought I looked good.
Who is your style icon and why?
I’ve always loved Natalie Portman’s timeless and elegant style – she always looks so effortlessly beautiful.
When did you become vegan and why?
I became vegan whilst suffering from a condition called topical steroid withdrawal – I watched many animal documentaries during this time and just knew I couldn’t wear or eat another animal product again.
What did you find hardest when you went vegan?
Lack of options in restaurants – we tend to go to tried and tested vegan restaurants, or at least with decent vegan options! But when a friend is picking a restaurant for a birthday or some other special occasion, boy can it be hard getting something to eat!
Any top tips for new vegans, or those who are thinking of trying it?
Someone once said to me, veganism is a journey and it’s true. I didn’t go vegan overnight, I still had products in my house that weren’t vegan but my intention to transition was there, and I got there pretty quickly. As soon as you start making small changes you’ll realise how easy it becomes, but don’t put the pressure on yourself to become an overnight vegan, it’s a whole lifestyle change, an easily achievable one and one I believe that’s easier to sustain if you start implementing changes along the way.
Why do you do what you do with Votch?
Because I don’t believe anything should have to suffer for our own personal gain, and Votch enables me to give back to so many organisations that are helping animals in need.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
A lot of the time the charities we support at Votch – their strength, dedication and fight to help others is truly inspiring.
Who do you think we should interview next and why?
Dr Carmen Hijosa who created Pinatex – we use it as a material in our Votch straps, and I’m forever in awe of the innovation of this material.
Interview with Natalie Dean, Founder of Beyond Skin