Shari Black Velvet: How long have you been vegan?
Carina Rowe: I have been vegan since the start of 2010 as I was vegetarian before. I made a new friend who was a vegan and she educated me further on what actually happens in dairy farms and bee hives and also what happens to silk worms, sheep etc for clothes so I made the decision to go vegan, I didn’t have to even think about it once I had heard the truth. I did more research into veganism, joined the vegan society and I have never looked back. It is the best decision I have ever made.
SBV: When and why did you decide to open Nature’s Boutique as an online store?
CR: Nature’s Boutique has been going since February 2010. I decided to open Nature’s Boutique because:
1. I wanted to show that we don’t need to use animals or animal derived ingredients to have beautiful beauty products and accessories. We do not believe in using or exploiting animals for human purposes.
2. We want to help people to shop cruelty free and we know it’s hard for vegans to find a good choice of products all in the one place.
3. I want to use Nature’s Boutique to allow me to give back. I want to promote products that give back to animals from other companies and eventually donate a percentage of our profits to animal welfare charities and causes.
4. We want to help create awareness of animal charities and causes and help educate the public on the meaning and importance of being cruelty free.
5. I want to show people that they can shop cruelty free and still have luxury products and still be green lessening the impact on the environment too. This is why we have the tag line “Green | Glam | Gorgeous”.
SBV: What did you do before you opened the online store and did you have any skills that have helped with the running of the online store?
CR: Before I started the store I used to be a driver for Social Services for adults with learning disabilities and the Elderly. I had a keen interest for beauty products, animals and nature so I put them altogether and created Nature’s Boutique.
SBV: What have you found the hardest to get your head around or conquer?
CR: It has all been a learning curve but the hardest was understanding the 'behind the scenes' bit with the website.
SBV: Is Nature’s Boutique a full time job? How busy does it keep you?
CR: Yes Nature’s Boutique is a full time job and it never ends. When you are Self Employed you are always in work mode.
SBV: Nature’s Boutique’s ‘About Us’ states ‘Nature’s Boutique helps you leave high-street cosmetics behind, with more natural beauty products that will keep you looking good on the outside – and feeling good on the inside.’ Although obviously, it’s hard to find a lot of great vegan natural beauty products in the high street, a lot of people dislike how the internet is killing independent retail stores and high street stores in general, with some towns having town centre shop spaces boarded up and folk that put everything into creating a shop being left bankrupt. What are your views on veganism in the high street and high street shopping in general? Are internet stores the way to convert more people to veganism and a cruelty free lifestyle? Or would you still ideally like to see more vegan products in high street stores so that the people that prefer to shops in their town and not online can discover them?
CR: I would love to see more vegan products on the high street which is why we also work closely with a local vegan shop as we have some our products on their shelves. Many people just haven’t got the time to go shopping with their busy lifestyles which is why they turn to the internet for convenience. I think it is important to make vegan products available in as many outlets as possible be it on the high street or the internet because some shops do have vegan products but the choice is limited but Nature’s Boutique helps provide more choice.
SBV: At the bottom of the ‘About Me’ page, it says ‘Pure, Cruelty Free Eco Luxury!’ With a lot of people out of work at the moment, what words do you have for those who cannot afford ‘luxury’?
CR: Nature’s Boutique sells many products, affordable and luxury. We say “luxury” because we want to show that being vegan you can still have luxury products. Many people think of veganism as hippy and earthy but there is also another side which can be, and is, luxury.
SBV: Which items that you sell in your store do you most use yourself?
CR: Haha I use all of them. My favourites are: Lavera Coconut Dream Organic Body Lotion £7.45, Rawganic Cleansing Wipes £2.50, Earth.Line A.B.C CO-Q10 Day and Night Cream £14.99, Pacifica Hawaiian Ruby Guava Spray Perfume £22.00, Inika Mineral Eyeshadow £10.28, John Masters Organics Rosemary and Peppermint Detangler £15.66, Akamuti Sweet Orange Facial Scrub £7.00, Urtekram Aloe Vera Roll On Crystal Deodorant £4.30 and Matt & Nat Handbags (various prices).
SBV: Which company that you stock the products of has most inspired you?
CR: It has to be Matt & Nat as they not only have created a luxury vegan fashion brand but they have also made the linings of their handbags using recycled water bottles.
SBV: Your store features only cruelty-free vegan items that are not tested on animals. Are there any products that you think we need more vegan versions of?
CR: I would like to see more natural vegan cosmetics. It’s quite hard to get good quality natural, organic vegan make-up which has not been tested on animals but we will be adding more very soon so watch this space.
SBV: What would you say to people who buy items that aren't vegan or are tested on animals in their local stores and that don't really think about what happened during the making of those products? For example, people might buy toothpaste or face cream without knowing the cruelty that has been endured by animals for those items.
CR: I would say check out Nature’s Boutique because we take the effort out of checking your products for you so you don’t have to worry. I would also say do your own research on what actually does go into your products as I’m sure you don’t want bits of insects on your lips (ie.carmine) or to have had animals suffer and die for you just to wear some face cream. Look for the BUAV logo and the Vegan logo on products. Never trust a product that says “This is not tested on animals” as many products may say that but it can mean that the finished product hasn’t been tested but the ingredients in the product have been tested. There are many websites that you can trust to give you more information, check these out:
SBV: You always make sure an item is totally vegan and none of the ingredients or product has been tested on. Have you yourself ever bought an item that you thought was vegan only to discover later that it wasn’t?
CR: I may have done many years ago but that was because I didn’t know what these ingredients were ie.Carmine, Lanolin, Cera Alba (Beeswax E901) Shellac (E904) etc was. I also email many companies to check out their products and brands before I buy.
SBV: You stock some anti-wrinkle serums that are said to ‘reduce wrinkles’. Most anti-wrinkle creams and serums on the market today say they reduce wrinkles – but when you use them you discover they don’t make much difference at all. Have you discovered any that really do work?
CR: I find you have to use the anti-wrinkle products for a long time before you see results which is why people may think that they don’t work because they haven’t used them for long enough. You also have to take other precautions like covering up in the sun and using a sunscreen. One of my recommendations is Rio Rosa Mosqueta Oil £9.99.
SBV: You sell a Tisserand Organic De-Stress Rollerball. Besides using the rollerball or any of your other items, what do YOU like to do to de-stress?
CR: I normally find walking my dogs helps me de-stress and also being out in the countryside and at one with nature. I never feel stressed when looking at a countryside view.
SBV: You have a ‘Must Buys For The Festival Season’ page on the website. Besides taking the items on that page to the festival, what other tips would you give to festival goers?
CR: Make sure you use mineral sunscreen (we sell award-winning mineral sunscreens from Lavera which are fantastic - http://www.naturesboutique.com/categories/Suncare-%26-Self-Tan/Sun-Protection-SPF/), keep hydrated and drink lots of water and make sure you eat regularly to keep up your blood sugar after all the dancing.
SBV: What’s your favourite festival and do you have a favourite festival memory you’d like to tell us about?
CR: I'm actually a festival virgin! I have 3 rescue dogs that I am hopelessly devoted to but it does mean I don't get away very often! Maybe next year... the Bristol Vegan Fayre always looks like good fun.
SBV: Any final words to urge readers to go straight to your website right NOW and check out what you’ve got for sale?
CR: We are offering a 10% off discount code for the Saveascream.com readers so go and check out http://www.naturesboutique.com and enter saveascream discount code at the checkout to receive your 10% off. We have many products to choose from including products for Men and Eco accessories and Jewellery. All our products are cruelty free, vegan, and natural. Pure Cruelty Free Eco Luxury keeping you Green Glam and Gorgeous!