Vegan Yarn Store
'Vegan yarn?' I thought to myself when I saw Twitter ID for the Vegan Yarn Store. What a cool, specialist business idea. So I approached the owner and asked her to tell me all about her store.
Something about Kelly
I've been vegan for just over 5 years. I've always loved animals, just like a lot of people do but I hadn't made that connection about eggs, milk or even fish. When it clicked on how hypocritical I was being by still eating these products I just couldn't continue. I have one cat, Tony, who reminds me every day that animals are just as important as we are (or more important as far as he’s concerned, he is a cat after all!). Outside of being a vegan cat lady, I also really love to travel. I have an aim to step foot on every continent of the world in my life – I'm not quite there yet though! India is one of my favourite places on earth – I love the food, the people and the climate (especially in South India!). In addition to running Vegan Yarn Store I still have a full time job so I'm pretty flat out at the moment, but it’s definitely worth it!
What do you specialise in selling?
Vegan Yarn Store sells a variety of yarns without using animal fibres. This means we don’t stock wool of any kind including angora, cashmere and silk. If it comes from an animal, you won’t find it out our shop!
What inspired you to create a business that solely focuses on plant-based yarn?
I was inspired after visiting a new yarn shop that had opened close to my work. I went in there armed with my purse and high hopes for spending but I came out empty handed. Every single yarn they had contained animal products! I've been knitting and crocheting 6 years and have been vegan for 5 so was used to having some problems sourcing the right yarns and it occurred to me that day that I couldn't be the only one. After that, the idea wouldn't leave me alone and here I am now!
Where are you based?
The store is internet based so, although we are located in Oxford, UK, we can ship to anywhere in the world! We offer competitive international postage rates so anybody who wants to buy ethically sourced yarns doesn’t have to pay the earth.
How easy is it for you to source yarns without cruelty?
Because I’d been knitting and crocheting as a vegan for 5 years I already had an idea of the vegan-friendly yarns which were available. This made it a bit easier. It’s still a challenge and I find that sometimes the colours can be a bit boring in comparison to some animal-based fibres but, as time goes on, I'm learning more about independent vegan spinners and dyers. I work with international stockists of fair trade, organic products, some small companies and some huge multinationals. I'm always looking for new, interesting yarns to stock especially from independent spinners and dyers.
What are the barriers to finding items using cruelty free yarns, for those who are shopping in stores?
A lot of the large brands really up-sell the luxury appeal of animal based yarns which means that these are the ones that are most often stocked in local yarn shops. My aim is to show people that luxury doesn't have to mean using animals.
Is there anything we can do to encourage companies to use vegan yarn?
Demand is key. Whether it’s food, yarns, clothes or anything else, big companies will only start catering to vegans if the demand is there. We need to continue to be vocal, not only through advocacy but by putting our money where our mouths are!
Are you owned by, or in partnership with, another company that does test on animals or sell non-vegan products?
No, I'm completely self funded and have no funding partnerships with anybody else.
What is your vision for the future of the Vegan Yarn Store?
I really want the business to keep growing. We've had a great 2 months so far and I hope that in a couple of years I’ll be able to source and sell vegan yarns as a full time job! I'm also going to be launching my own brand of yarn so watch this space!
I am so glad that I asked Kelly to share her story with me. Isn't it cool to read how determined, clear and resourceful she is? :)
So...do you knit or crochet? If so AND if you'd like some vegan yarn, you're in luck! The Vegan Yarn Store is offering readers 15% off if you share the code PLANTSHIFT14 It will be available for two weeks so get shopping soon! :)