Louise Pinchen is a young, vegan entrepreneur who is responsible for the Vegan Festival UK series of events and an online retail space, Ethical Stores, which she describes as a vegan version of Etsy. We spoke to Louise to find out what drives her, get her advice for other vegan entrepreneurs and discover why she believes one person can make a difference…
Tell us about yourself…
I am the eldest daughter of two and live with my parents in near Newcastle upon Tyne, where I was born and raised. I am 22-years-old and have just finished my final year Business degree. Organising events and such is something I have always been interested in so this was the perfect opportunity for me to do something like organising vegan events.
I have always been a passionate person when it comes to business, health and animal welfare, so it’s probably no surprise that I am running my own business. From an early age, I have been a very entrepreneurial girl, be it running a shop from our garage selling smoothies and sweets to running a tuck shop out of the school to raise money for a Kenyan charity.
I was vegetarian from a very young age and then became vegan around 6/7 years ago. I think more than anything I just became more aware about how my food was being processed and the procedure it went through to get to my plate.
Where did the inspiration come from to start up the Vegan Festival?
As I said previously, organisation and planning have always been strong points of mine and when I became vegan I attended different events around the country and realised that there was nothing like this in Newcastle upon Tyne, which is my home city. This is something I wanted to change. The north east of England is a great place and we have lots of compassionate people up here and I knew a vegan event would be successful.
What have been some of the highlights?
I don’t know if there is one moment that I can pin point and say that was the best moment, you get so many great feelings doing events like this and seeing people’s reactions to the different businesses and talks, workshops etc. I think it is also great that the festival has gained huge support from the UK public and grabbed the attention of several celebrities such as Joanna Lumley, Jenny Seagrove and Antony Worrall Thompson. You can see some of the quotes that these celebrities have left for us on our website at www.veganfestival.co.uk.
Where do you see the events going? What plans do you have for them in the future?
I think that veganism is becoming increasingly popular as time goes on and especially for young people. A lot more people are looking into and taking control of their diets and with so much research that supports the claim that a vegan diet is beneficial to our health, there is no reason why people shouldn’t be turning to this way of living. More and more vegan products are being brought out on to the shelves of supermarkets; this is becoming apparent that the demand for these products is increasing. There are leaders of industries at the moment investing millions of pounds into the vegan diet and vegan products as they have predicted in around forty years’ time everyone will be vegan so in terms of the festivals, hopefully the demand for them will continue and I can carry on doing what I love at the same time.
How many people attend the events?
We normally have a few thousand at each event and it is growing continuously.
Who attends the Vegan Festivals?
We always make it clear that our festivals are for everyone to attend you do not have to be vegan or vegetarian.
What other projects/goals have you set for yourself?
Fingers crossed more vegan festivals and more events to promote the benefits of being vegan and raising awareness of animal rights. I also have set up another project, which is ethicalstores.com. This is a non-profit ethical marketplace. It is 100% free for ethical and vegan businesses to sign up and sell their products; this is run by volunteers and is completely free. The reason I am doing this is I want a whole online marketplace in which people can shop for whatever they need and they know that everything they will be purchasing is ethical and doesn’t have a negative impact on animals or humans.
What advice would you give to other people that want to start up something similar?
The advice that I would give is it is not as easy as it looks, everyone turns up on the day and pays for their ticket and enjoys their day however they do not see the amount of effort that goes in over months and months and everything that you have to put into it. However, if one person can do it I believe anyone can and we should support anyone who is looking to make a positive change to our world one hundred percent.
What would you say to people who say that one person can’t make a difference?
There is a famous quote, which is one of my favourites: “I always wondered why somebody doesn't do something about that. Then I realised I was somebody.” I believe everyone CAN make a difference no matter what. I organised this event alone and the amount of people that have turned vegan and vegetarian from our festivals is amazing because they have been shown that there is choice and there are options.
For tickets and further information on the vegan festivals visit: www.veganfestival.co.uk
Support the Barefoot Vegan Animal Sanctuary by purchasing the 2017 Art of Compassion Project calendar