Designer Profile: Votch
Votch is a vegan leather watch company that is designed in London and launched in 2016. We love animals at Votch, and we don’t feel anything should have to die in order for us to wear anything. The company is run by Laura Stageman and her rehomed pooch Rolo, who spends his days in the office with Laura either picking colours for the next range or singing along to his harmonica (true story).
Tell us what inspired you to start Votch
After suffering with a condition called Topical Steroid Withdrawal which confined me to bed and bath for months on end, I took this time to view many documentaries and read up on one of the things I've always been passionate about, animal welfare. Upon getting better, I knew I had to create something where I could give back and help…and when an old watch strap broke and it proved impossible to find a vegan leather watch that I liked, the idea for Votch was born – high quality, sleek timepieces fitted with vegan leather straps. We also partner with a different charity of the season where we donate 10% of our profits to every 3 months.
"I knew I had to create something where I could give back and help..."
Can you explain the composition and process of making vegan leather and why is it a more sustainable alternative?
Animal agriculture is destroying our planet, and is the leading cause of climate change and deforestation. Coupled with the heartbreaking treatment of animals – over one billion animals are slaughtered a year for leather and a high proportion is exported from countries where no animal welfare standards are in place. Tanneries can also be a highly toxic environment for the individuals working in them, where they are exposed to dangerous chemicals that also affect the surrounding areas that they live in too. Our straps are made up of 2 layers, the bottom layer is fabric knitted mix where we use cotton, and the top layer is PU (we never use PVC). As the demand for faux leather increases, we are always striving to source the greenest forms available, all of our straps comply with REACH regulations, so no harmful chemicals are used in the production of our straps, and certainly nothing had to die for them either.
Tell us about your relationship with your manufacturer in China.
We searched the world to find the best place to get our watches made (there are no facilities here in the UK) and in the end we decided to get them made by a factory in China. We visited several (after having a team select a short list for us, as the conditions for our workers are paramount) and worked with them closely to develop our first range and are now planning our next with them too. Our factory owners wife is (almost) vegan, so we get a to go to the best vegan restaurants when we visit, which makes us want to go too often now! But relationships are what is key to us, we will always care just as much about people as we do animals.
What is the future like for Votch?
We are planning our next range now that will launch in 2017. Our aim always moving forward is to always see where and how we can improve as a company, as well as being able to help all the charities that we support. This is just the beginning and we can’t wait to see where our new journey takes us.
EVERY VOTCH WATCH IS....