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Regan Forrester and Devyn SiebenVshoen Boutique

BY BRIAN HARTZ AND DOUG TAYLOR
PHOTO BY SIMON DESROCHERS

At the forefront of cruelty-free fashion, Regan Forrester and Devyn Sieben will perk up your wardrobe while they cleanse your conscience.

Animals are our friends. We don’t wear our friends.”

That’s the slogan you’ll find on Regan Forrester’s business cards. She’s the co-founder, along with partner Devyn Sieben, of Vshoen (pronounced “vee-shun”) Boutique on Broughton Street in downtown Victoria. They sell clothing, shoes, handbags, and other accessories made to the highest cruelty-free standards. Vegan Shoes is one of the many brands they stock. Instead of leather, this footwear is made of cork shed naturally from trees, put together using water-based glues instead of the sort that come from animal by-products. Tough guys with a soft spot for animals, take note: at Vshoen, you can get vegan steel-toed boots.

Forrester, 39, and Sieben, 37, founded Vshoen out of a desire to promote awareness of ethically conscious fashion. Fur has been public enemy No. 1 for decades, but not very many of us stop to think about the everyday items — belts, wallets, shoes, purses — for which an animal had to give its life. They see their venture as part of a nascent community, a “movement,” says Forrester, of likeminded businesses that are catering to customers’ desire for ethical choices without sacrificing quality. It’s not a fringe market, either, with big names in entertainment and fashion — Natalie Portman, Eva Mendes, Tyra Banks, Calvin Klein, Stella McCartney, and Ralph Lauren, to name a few — leading the charge against what they call “dead-end fashion.”

Vshoen doesn’t stand out as anything other than a retro-tinged downtown fashion boutique. That’s by design. “We don’t want to be seen as a radical vegan business,” says Sieben. “If you want info on some of the causes we support, we have it; if not, that’s fine, too.”

Forrester has a degree in business administration from UVic and is on the shop floor most days, while Sieben, a welder by trade, holds down a day job with BC Transit to keep the bills paid while the company continues to find its feet. Growth has been trending steadily upward as Victoria’s progressive shoppers discover Vshoen, which also offers an online store to serve the rest of Canada, and the world.

“The best part of this has been the feedback from clients, the e-mails thanking us for being here,” says Forrester.

 

Profile

Type of Business: 
Fashion Boutique

Year founded: 2011

Owners: Regan Forrester 
and Devyn Sieben

How many employees: 
1 (part time)

What sets you apart from your competition: We carry something completely different. Our first concern is animals and the planet, and we’re really transparent: people can read the story of each designer that we stock, and we’ve never seen that in any other store. People need to know where their products are coming from.


www.vshoen.com

 



Douglas magazine's annual 10 to Watch competition celebrates innovation and entrepreneurship by recognizing ten up and coming businesses in Greater Victoria.

Click to see a full recap and photo gallery from this year's 10 to Watch gala.

Read about the other 2012 10 to Watch winners:

SendtoNews
Evoshift Communications Inc.
IKAN Installations
First Light Technologies
YUPIQ
The London Chef
Victory Barber & Brand
Brink Events
Parc Modern Interiors

Get your copy of Douglas to see the full feature on all of the winners!

 

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