MAKING VOTCH - MEET LAURA WAY
Skype ringtone buzzing loud, waiting to connect to my date of the day.
The call connects and to my surprise there is an uninvited plus one at the other end. Meet young veganpreneur (as I call the likes of us) from London, Laura Way and her company, Rolo. When a plus one is as cute as him then I don’t mind the surprise. Don’t be confused folks. Rolo is an adorable little dog who happily sat on Laura’s lap throughout the call.
Laura’s pretty face and beautiful brand, Votch are hard to miss if you closely follow vegan fashion. I came across her vegan watches while scouting for chic brands, committed to making high quality vegan accessories. During our long conversation on the otherwise grey September day, I asked Laura some questions to know her better and I am happy to share some of my favorite excerpts.
The thought of Votch was planted in my head few years back when I got diagnosed with an illness that kept me home more than usual. As a result, I turned to watching a lot of documentaries. Many of those films talked about animal welfare and veganism; naturally igniting sensitivity towards those topics. Being a vegetarian already, I quickly adopted a vegan lifestyle and also started realising everything that was missing in vegan fashion industry. So, there was this one time when I wanted to buy a watch but to my surprise I could not get my hands on any decent one with a soft vegan strap. The idea was born right then and upon recovery, I started working on it.
Must have been a process
It was a process for sure. I started all alone and worked by myself for a long time. It was pretty exhausting. Even after working all day, there was no point when I could say ‘Ah! all work is done.’ Today I have support of few people and it's definitely getting better and more organised.
Besides, throughout there were a lot of learnings and discoveries. When I started, I was not aware of many aspects of running a vegan brand. In fact, I often learn of new things from my customers through their inquiries on the watches. They constantly push me to cross limits and create a better brand everyday.
I am curious. What did you do before Votch?
I worked with a production agency; mainly focussed on TV commercials. But I was seriously bored by the end.
Votch definitely seems more exciting and as a young entrepreneur you have achieved so much within an year. Congrats! You know, being responsible for vegan fashion platform, I get this question a lot and maybe I will throw it at you too- Do you also care about other aspects of ethical fashion- sustainability and fairness?
But first and foremost we are a vegan brand with animal welfare as the primary focus. But through this journey, I constantly try to implement processes that are better for the environment.
Oh, I get that question a lot too. But first and foremost we are a vegan brand with animal welfare as the primary focus. But through this journey, I constantly try to implement processes that are better for the environment. We are very transparent on the website about who we work with for the manufacturing and I took a long time in finding a partner I could trust with quality and who has all the required compliances for fair trade. But there is no limit to how much good you can do and I am trying to do it better as I move ahead. I am also focussing on different materials that are better.
What was your initial challenge as a young brand?
Brand awareness. Just making people aware about the brand was the biggest challenge. My target customers really care about the personal story of the brand so I had to make sure I was out in the open with everything, constantly sharing everything in order to better connect with them. Social media, influencer collaborations and press were key. Luckily, I launched around Christmas last year and that helped get a lot of press coverage for topics like ‘vegan gift guide’ or ‘vegan gift cards’.
Let’s talk about food. Which vegan restaurant in London are we most certain to find you gorging on good food?
Fed By Water. It is amaziingg!! Bit far from where I live but totally worth it. Do try it and don’t forget to make a reservation.
I will definitely try! And do you cook?
I lovee cooking! I absolutely love it. What about you?
Oh, I love cooking as well.
Amazing and what’s you speciality?
I would say Indian-fusion. I love the Indian flavours being infused in healthy ingredients such as quinoa. Do you like Indian food?
Yes, it's my favorite. I am going to eat Indian tonight with my friend. I will let you know if the restaurant turns out to be good.
So, are you a coffee person or tea?
Tea, I would say.
I am a coffee person but I will have tea with you when we meet in person. My last question is pretty important. Tell us about Rolo.
Rolo is the most pampered little dog who is always by my side and I would say that Votch was started by two of us. ;)
Well, I lied. That was not the last question. I always end with asking- What do you think of OKOLOLA?
I love OKOLOLA because it shows that being effortlessly stylish is easily possible without the use of any animal exploitation.