Veerah Founder Stacey Chang on Finding the Perfect Vegan Shoe

Veerah Founder Stacey Chang on Finding the Perfect Vegan Shoe

I love shoes, but I was frustrated by the lack of options in the marketplace to serve the fast-paced, dynamic, and conscientious lifestyle of today’s woman. I was traveling almost nonstop for work, but it was difficult to pack a carry-on with room for just one or two pairs of heels for all the events that I needed to attend. Furthermore, I couldn’t find designer heels that were truly comfortable, let alone vegan or environmentally-friendly! I found that so many women shared those same dilemmas, so I decided to create a solution by founding VEERAH in October 2016.

For the Modern Day Woman Warrior

Veerah Vegan Shoes

VEERAH (vee-rah), derived from warrior in Sanskrit, is rooted in the belief that today’s mega-tasking women are true modern-day warriors. Building a brand to satisfy and complement the demands of their stylish, socially conscious roller-coaster lifestyle has been the very foundation of VEERAH. I look at products from a holistic point of view—from sourcing eco-conscious and cruelty-free materials to our support of various non-profit partners.

As a socially and environmentally conscious woman, it was essential for me to create a versatile collection that aligned with my own personal values. I knew that sustainability and luxury could harmoniously coexist when you combine smart sourcing and thoughtful design.

Two years later, we are a fast-growing women-led team and all strongly committed to doing our part to protect the planet and ensure it stays thriving. My goal since VEERAH’s inception has been to identify and utilize the most innovative, sustainable and high-quality materials without compromising style.

Challenges In the Industry

It took me over two years of preparation before launching VEERAH. It was still a very new concept to produce premium vegan shoes that are luxurious, comfortable, durable and come with detachable accessories. I definitely underestimated the amount of work and time that is required to build products and a brand from scratch. In the beginning, we received a lot of pushback. Factories told me that no one in the shoe industry would do this because it requires too much work, investment and time.

I didn’t expect how challenging it would be to find the right suppliers and manufacturers for a collaborative relationship. Because our quantity is small with high-quality demands, a lot of them didn’t even want to make money from us. For them, the same amount of development work is required for making 50 pairs versus making 10,000 pairs. I ended up having to pitch VEERAH to suppliers and manufacturers in order to gain buy-in and trust.

Once I finally found the factory owner who believed in my vision, I still needed to make sure that everyone from the factory floor involved in the process understood our vision and high-level standards. When all is said and done it actually takes over 300 steps to make one pair of VEERAH shoes!

blue heels

Searching for Sustainable Textiles

Innovation remains at the heart of what we do. I am constantly researching new, natural and sustainable textiles that are innovative, beautiful, functional and cause as little harm as possible to the environment. It’s been exciting to uncover non-traditional and unexpected fabrics in order to create luxurious, functional and sustainable styles for women at all different stages of their life and career.

Our shoes are made from eco-friendly materials including repurposed apple peels, recycled plastic bottles and cork. It’s been a true labor of love with many miles flown to find all of our unique materials.

Along my journey, I’ve met people who share my passion for innovation and was able to discover silky fabrics made out of recycled plastic bottles, breathable organic cotton for sock lining, and memory foam cushions that replace 20 to 50 percent of the petroleum typically used with a substitute derived from castor beans and much more!

People don’t often equate eco-friendly products as both fashionable and functional. I want to change this mindset. Sustainable fashion should become the norm, and not just a niche. I love that VEERAH can be a driving force in this positive direction.

Image Credit: VEERAH
Editorial: Sacha Malkin

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