This week’s Ethical Business Spotlight features Carl & Ewelina Augustin, co-founders of The Vegan Warehouse & MERSI. Learn more about this compassionate couple’s journey to create the ultimate online mega-store of fantastic vegan products!
Let’s jump right in!
The Vegan Warehouse is a one-stop shop for all things vegan! From clothing and makeup to food and cleaning supplies, what inspired you to create your online superstore?
When I went vegan in 2010, I really struggled to find vegan alternatives to my household staples that were easily accessible and affordable. Searching for replacements in fashion, beauty, skincare and household items, I aspired to find a single marketplace which aggregated all the vegan essentials I was looking for. Fast forward seven years, after partnering with my now husband, Carl, we decided to create this marketplace ourselves, with the mission to simplify the lives of all vegans out there.
There are currently over 30 vegan and cruelty-free brands featured on your marketplace. What do you look for when choosing brands to partner with?
We’re extremely proud to carry so many amazing vegan and cruelty-free brands at The Vegan Warehouse! When looking for new brands to feature on our marketplace, we always look for a few criteria when deciding whether they will be a hit with our customers, and our mission. Firstly, we always verify that the products are 100% vegan and cruelty-free and that they follow strict ethical practices in sourcing.
Secondly, we are always striving to put our best eco-friendly foot forward. We know the harsh effects that fashion and beauty have had on the environment, and continue to do daily within larger corporations. By selecting products that adhere to sustainable practices and packaging, this is a top priority for us at The Vegan Warehouse. Look out for packaging made of recycled plastics, biodegradable materials, and less harsh ingredients to effect the environment.
With these morals in mind, we also are continuously searching for innovation. From cult-favorite skincare products to smaller soy-candle vendors, we are consistent about bringing the best of vegan products to The Vegan Warehouse!
You recently launched a premium accessory line called MERSI. Congrats! If you had to choose just one item to represent the new brand, which would it be and why?
Thank you so much! Launching MERSI has definitely been the highlight of our 2020, and a long-running project we’ve been so elated to release!
Looking back to when we first started The Vegan Warehouse in 2017, our best-selling handbag and fan-favorite to date has been our Ruby Crossbody, a compact cross-body style with a bold printed strap and studded hardware detail. We created MERSI with the idea of redefining the idea of “vegan fashion” and creating a bolder, more authentic landscape for our customers to explore! With its bold personality and unique design, we feel that our Ruby Crossbody speaks to the kind of brand image we speak to.
You donate a portion of your profits to animal sanctuaries and recently sponsored Lily, a resident goat at Catskill Animal Sanctuary who can really rock a heart print. For veg-curious people who are considering shifting to a vegan lifestyle, what helped you make the connection between your personal choices and animals?
While getting educated with books and documentaries is a great route to take, nothing is more eye opening to me than spending time in nature. Living in a city we rarely think about where our food is coming from and what sacrifices are made for it. It’s often that disconnect that causes us to participate in animal cruelty. We recently visited the Catskill Animal Sanctuary to meet a few of the animals we sponsor. Spending time around them and seeing how incredibly gentle, sweet, and intelligent they are served as another reminder and reinforcement of our mission.
What has been the biggest challenge and reward while creating your business?
I would say the biggest challenge when starting out is committing all of your energy and resources to something and putting in work consistently before you can see results. Building a business from the ground up is a roller coaster – that’s why I’m glad I’m on this journey with my co-founder and husband Carl!
The most rewarding is definitely seeing the vegan movement spread! We aim to use our platform to educate and encourage not only the veg-curious, but also those who never thought a plant based diet could work for them. I’ve heard countless stories over the years of people taking slow steps towards eliminating meat and eventually committing to a vegan lifestyle. We are so here for it!
What’s next for The Vegan Warehouse?
We are constantly working on bringing the best and the latest in vegan beauty & fashion to our consumers. While expanding the MERSI line to include wallets and other accessories in 2021, we are also focused on widening our selection of up-and-coming skincare brands. Stay tuned to our social media @theveganwarehouse for all the exciting things to come!
Thank you so much for participating in my Ethical Business Spotlight series!
The Vegan Warehouse is truly a lifesaver (for animals) and takes the time and guesswork out of buying vegan beauty, household, clothing and accessories by offering them all in one place!
From animals and ethical consumers everywhere, thank you!