We’ve all had that dream of being able to walk into a shop and try on everything – because it’s all vegan. No real leather, wool or angora, but only compassionate, cruelty-free designs and fabrics. Well, that time has finally come – online, at least – thanks to serial entrepreneur and vegan fashion lover Cayla Mackey, founder of the biggest online catalog of vegan fashion in the world, Unicorn Goods. A gigantic aggregator of pretty much all the vegan style there is to find on the world wide web, Unicorn Goods is the answer to the prayers of everyone who has ever been on the hunt for the perfect vegan leather jacket or the everyday vegan bag to accompany their daily life. And its success can possibly be attributed to Mackey’s background and expertise in taking an idea and turning it into a brand. “Before co-founding Unicorn Goods with my partner, Dave Pittman, I had collaborated with him on several other businesses. We started a print and online magazine called Native, and a vegetarian breakfast taco bike called Taco Bike. I learned a lot about what it takes to run a successful ethical business through doing sales and operations for various small start ups that we co-owned. As by ethics evolved and we both became vegan, we launched Unicorn Goods to help people buy vegan products.”
Cayla found her inspiration for Unicorn Goods after running into a common problem that many vegan shoppers have encountered. “I tried to buy a pair of non-leather shoes in 2014, and started to keep a spreadsheet on my options. I realised through many failed purchases that the companies themselves didn’t know what was in their products, and that there wasn’t an easy way to find vegan products. My partner, Dave Pittman, and I realised that there was an opportunity to share the information I had amassed to help others find these products, and we turned the spreadsheet into a website in December, 2014. This was the culmination of us as vegetarians realizing that all any products contribute to an industry we no longer wanted to be a part of on any level.”
It may be easy to think that a catalog of this size is non-discerning in what they choose to offer – in order to feature such a large amount of products, the doors of Unicorn Goods must be open to any brand that’s vegan, right? Wrong. As Cayla explains, the criteria for joining their stellar line-up are rigid. “We are constantly researching vegan brands for Unicorn Goods. We have a database of hundreds of companies that we are already working with or that we want to work with. We recruit brands based on the desirability of their products and their ability to connect with our platform. Many brands learn more about online marketing through working with us, and are able to better scale their growth through the sales we send them – our partners need to be ready for this growth and have the supply chain to back increased demand. We also vet for holistic ethics and prioritize 100% vegan brands, fair trade certified companies, 1% for the Planet certified companies, and companies that have a clear commitment to sustainability and transparent supply chains.”
Running any business presents challenges, but running an ethical business has obstacles as well as rewards. As Cayla remembers, “We had never launched a web-based business before, and the learning curve was very steep, especially with respect to the financial aspects of online marketing and e-commerce. I studied these areas until I understood them well enough to build our business model upon them, and continue to develop my coding abilities so that I can have a deep understand of our platform as it continues to grow and develop. I also struggled with the realisation that I do not have uniform strengths – we sought out people who were better at online marketing that we were, so that I could focus on growing the business. One of the biggest obstacles I still personally face as an entrepreneur is day to day stamina of running a company of this scale and breadth. Unicorn Goods has challenged me to balance my life in a way that prevents me from burning out and equips me to follow through on our vision in the long-term.
And the growth of a company like Unicorn Goods is a sign of the times – vegan fashion is more on the rise than it has ever been. Lyst reported that “vegan” was one of the most-used words in fashion in 2017
, and Cayla believes that this is just the beginning. “In the future, all products will be vegan because it will be illegal to use animals for human consumption. “Ethical” will be synonymous with “vegan.” We are excited to be on the crest of this wave.”
Unicorn Goods is the main sponsor for our #VildaOOTD Vegan Outfit of the Year competition – if you haven’t voted for your favourite already, do so here