REFLECTIONS ON SANS BEAST: 5 YEARS IN
When I sat in Bali, back in 2016, trying to relax after finishing a mammoth professional chapter in Australian fashion retail at the helm of a large accessories business, musing on what my next step would be (#notrelaxed), I had no idea that the concept I would envisage + make a few brief notes about - Sans Beast - would be the project I'd throw myself into the following year.
Initially, post leaving said role, through fear + ego, I had planned on becoming an employee again. I reasoned a regular healthy pay packet was essential, and who was I at the age of 47, to think I could become a business owner + build something from nothing. The Summer of 2016 saw me change this thought process dramatically. I decided to jump into the unknown, shrug off insecurity + start something new.
I established Sans Beast in May 2017 + put my head down to create a brand that stood for all I'd come to believe to be true. I no longer wanted to support the exploitation of animals - aka the leather industry - and I wanted to work within + create an entity that brought accessibly priced, design led style to a level of the market I felt needed an aesthetic boost. The vegan fashion space at the time was lacking in my eyes - I wanted a handbag that wasn't created from animal leather, yet didn't look generic in design + wasn't a blatant copy of a high end bag.
I can't say I haven't looked back - the first year was incredibly tough in all the ways you can imagine, then after gaining some early traction, the pandemic hit. I truly questioned whether it was worth continuing. I spoke with friends + family, did a lot of soul searching + challenged myself to consider how I'd feel if I gave up on the journey of Sans Beast. I wrote to our community via our emails + was touched by the outpouring of support + messages of 'please keep going'.
Building a business - for now, still a small business - is a marathon + I've always been more of the sprinting type. I've learnt to let small worries go, to believe in the bigger picture, to roll with the bad days, knowing that everything passes.
I've also learnt to lean on our (growing) team + a bunch of supportive people in my life, to know wholeheartedly that nothing is built without the help of many hands, hearts + minds. I have too many to thank to name them individually - I hope you know who you are. It's sometimes a lonely road bringing constant energy + brainpower to a business, so for the colleagues, contemporaries, friends + family who have been there to work alongside me, cheer the brand on or simply have a glass of wine with me + offer a perspective from the outside, I thank you.
“The question is not, "Can they reason?" nor, "Can they talk?" but "Can they suffer?” Jeremy Bentham
Over 70 billion animals are bred, raised + slaughtered every year. Leather is not a charitable by-product of the meat industry, it is a profitable co-product. 'Farmed' animals are not protected by law + if you have the stomach to learn about this space, I truly believe you'd be horrified at the cruelty that is allowable in farms across the globe. There are supposedly 'five freedoms' enshrined in the treatment of all 'farmed' animals - one look at footage, filmed by brave activists, will show you that these freedoms are typically entirely false.
To our community who have grown month on month, year on year - thank you for believing in what we are doing + for continuing to support us. Whether you're here for the style or you're here for the vegan + cruelty free aspect, or you have recognised that animal leather has one of the highest environmental impacts on the earth - yes, far greater than virgin or recycled synthetic materials - know that you have made a difference to how vegan fashion is being seen in the world. When you wear Sans Beast you make a statement and join us in the revolution.
Five things I’m proud of as we celebrate our 5th birthday:
- We’ve donated over $20K to Edgars Mission animal sanctuary in Lancefield Victoria.
- We’ve planted over 7000 trees. 7424 to be precise. You’ve also bought a bunch of trees over + above our donations, adding to the planting schedule of One Tree Planted.
- We’ve transitioned our collection from 100% virgin synthetic faux leather (still a dramatically lower environmental impact than cow leather) to 70% recycled material + 4% cactus derived material. By Feb 2023 all of our bags will either be constructed from recycled materials (including the lining) or biobased materials.
- We moved into our own HQ in Brunswick in April 2021 after spending the first few years in the brilliant, supportive co-working space of Clik Collective.
- We have – and have had over the years – excellent humans in our team. It’s not always smooth sailing in a business that is building day by day – and I’m so grateful for the people who have come on the journey in our team.
We are 5 + we are just getting started. Thank you for being here.