Jannifer Black is the director of ethical clothing brand: The-V-Spot, which sells a range of wonderful clothing and beauty items suitable for vegans and those looking to purchase sustainable fashion. In this interview, Jannifer shares her knowledge and advice on ethical style and why it is important to shop sustainable fashion!
Jannifer Black is a 47 yo mama to 2 divine daughters, 3 bunnies, 3 freshwater snails and 1 husband! Born and bred in Sydney, Australia, Jannifer is a 4th generation vegetarian, and is of Croatian descent. A committed vegan for nearly 25 years, she is now committed to sharing her passion for all things eco, ethical and vegan in fashion and beauty through her online boutique, THE-V-SPOT. She hasn’t moved on from 70s and 80s punk rock, is a fan of modern animated cartoons and is known to enjoy a cheeky glass of Veuve with her girlfriends!
Hi Jannifer! What can you tell us about your company “THE-V-SPOT”…
THE-V-SPOT is an online boutique for fashion, beauty and lifestyle products where we believe Kind and Caring is Sexy! All our products are proudly vegan, eco, ethical and undeniably fabulous! Our foundation is to offer “thoughtful alternatives” in apparel, shoes, bags, fashion accessories, skincare, makeup, and hair care for women, men and children. We support indie designers and small business that share our values of being animal-friendly, people-friendly and earth-friendly.
How did the idea to start THE-V-SPOT come about?
When I became vegan nearly 25 years ago, there was very little available in cruelty-free fashion and beauty. And admittedly some of what was out there was questionable and not very pretty! I became driven to find not just vegan options, but organic, safe, and effective products that were made ethically, and supported indie designers and small business. When my eldest daughter, Rose(bud) was born, the concept of THE-V-SPOT was also born. I wanted to share my ethical finds with others. But my entire working career had been in electronics and I had just started a new business at this time, so THE-V-SPOT remained a pipe dream. Then my Eve came along and all I could think about was inspiring people to buy thoughtfully – for the animals, for our people and the planet.
Your brand has strong ethical values. Tell us about your journey into ethical fashion as an individual. Were you always aware of the cruelty, inequality and environmental harm involved in mainstream clothing and fashion production? If no, when did you learn about the cruelty and inequality that goes on behind the scenes and how did this affect you?
In short no but I’m glad to say the journey (unbeknownst to me at the time) started in my early teens with thrift shopping and then into my later teen years when I discovered independent clothing labels. Originally this way of shopping was because I loved the individualism of the clothes vs what was being sold in department stores.
And then I became vegan which was life changing. This shift made me think more deeply and question the status quo – of everything! Initially it was just about buying clothes that didn’t contain animal products. But with continued research I discovered where clothes were made, who was making them, how they were being made…. Just as I had become vegan overnight upon educating myself on the egg and dairy industries, I couldn’t in all good conscience continue to support mass-produced fashion that had little to no regard for people* and planet.
*mainly woman and possibly children. Heart breaking….
Why is it so important for people to support ethical brands?
Supporting ethical brands with strong principles and commitment to human welfare and sustainability has the power to overhaul the industry. Truly ethical brands do not contribute to slavery and worker exploitation (such as being under paid and having none or limited access to worker entitlements) and unsafe and unregulated working conditions.
They use materials that are environmentally friendly to produce such as organic cotton, bamboo and hemp; innovative materials made from up-cycled/recycled post-consumer waste; and use low-impact, non-toxic dyes. Many employ zero-waste and closed-loop initiatives in their design and manufacturing process; incorporate rescued and deadstock fabric into their designs; and many advocate for animal welfare by not using any animal products such as fur, leather, silk and wool.
As you know, this interview is part of The Online Stylist’s project: “The Ethical Style Project”, which aims to help and encourage others with their transition towards ethical fashion. What tips and advice would you give to those who are about to start their ethical style journey?
Shopping ethically is easier and cheaper than you think! But first let’s start with your own wardrobe and de-clutter it of pieces you never wear. If they are in good condition donate, organise a swap meet night with friends, or hold a garage sale. If they’re not in good nick (would YOU wear it if someone gave it to you?) put it to use around the home. Try and avoid throwing anything in the bin. Aside from cleaning out your wardrobe you will have familiarised yourself with what you have and can fall in love all over again! I’m sure most of us are guilty of not remembering everything we own or wearing every piece multiple times.
Shopping ethically is easy and accessible these days. There are many boutique and indie designers creating beautiful fashion, most of which sell online. Read their manifesto to get an understanding of their policies and platform. If this isn’t outlined on their website contact them for further information. Always be comfortable with what you’re buying ensuring it aligns with your own ethics. And if it isn’t? Simply go elsewhere.
Another misconception is that ethically produced fashion is more expensive. I find an $8 t-shirt or $30 pair of jeans expensive. Why? Firstly, someone, somewhere had to pay for it by way of worker exploitation – unsafe working conditions, little to no employee rights, being underpaid or not at all. If we demand these basic working rights for ourselves, then we should demand it for EVERY worker regardless of where they are in the world! Telling ourselves “at least they’re being provided employment” is a cop out and only serves to try and ease ones own conscience. Secondly, a cheap product is made cheaply. It’s not made to last and will have you buying more frequently. It ends up costing you more than if you were to invest in a quality piece that is slightly more expensive. And it will most definitely cost our precious earth if you have to throw out more, perpetuating the production of more clothing.
Every piece in my store is selected for its design, functionality and durability. Styles that transcend trends; transitional pieces you can wear through the seasons; looks that take you from day to night; pieces you can layer to create different looks. Investing in pieces with these design elements along with sustainable and innovative materials, high quality construction, and the employment of eco and ethical production processes is key to shopping ethically and thoughtfully.
Thank you very much Jannifer! You can check outTHE-V-SPOT here at: