Source: Whittier Daily News
By Andrew Blazier Staff Writer
Friday, January 14, 2005 - PASADENA -- Since Jackie Horrick was old enough to buy clothes, she had the hardest time finding something to wear. From belts to boots to those little pouches for her cell phone, there just wasn't much that fit a woman who wouldn't wear animal skins.
|Henny Hendra and Jackie Horrick are
co-partners of AlternativeOutfitters.Com based in Pasadena, a retailer
that sells only animal-free accessories, clothing and cosmetics. The
business that operates out of their home, the start-up company has
doubled its sales every month. Its Web site receives more than 900 hits
daily. (Photo by Walt Mancini)|
"It's just a lot harder to shop,' said the 34-year-old Pasadena resident, who as a teenager became a vegan, someone who does not eat or use products with animal ingredients. "It was a pain, because I had to sit there, look at every shoe, turn it over, and look inside.'
Fed up with a lack of vegan- friendly clothing options, Horrick and fellow Pasadena vegan Henny Hendra in late April founded AlternativeOutfitters.com , a Pasadena-based online retailer that sells only animal-free goods. The trendy fashion Web site specializes in women's accessories, clothing, cosmetics and shoes, with most items priced below $45.
Run from Horrick's home office, the business has grown quickly during its nearly nine-month run. Sales have doubled every month, and the Web site now boasts more than 900 hits per day.
The business partners credit their own shopping experience with their early success. Horrick remembers too many times looking for fashionable jackets and shoes that used no leather or animal glues.
Many items are not made with vegans in mind, Horrick adds. A cell phone pouch, for instance, "is impossible to find, because they're all leather.'
With as many as 20 percent of college students declaring themselves vegetarians, the animal- friendly market is only expected to grow larger as interests once relegated to the hippie and punk fringes become increasingly mainstream.
"There's definitely a greater acceptance of vegetarianism in society and possibly among a younger demographic,' said John Cunningham, a consumer product research manager for Baltimore-based The Vegetarian Resource Group. "I think we can say that it has definitely become more mainstream.'
VRG estimates 2.8 percent of American adults are vegetarians. About one-third to one-half of those are thought to be vegans.
The minority group has become a lucrative market for retailers who cater to them, primarily because they simply will not buy products with which they disagree.
Vegan-focused businesses exist primarily in metropolitan areas, said Cunningham, so many have created Web sites to serve more rural customers. New York-based Mooshoes.com offers high-end shoes and handbags, while VeganEssentials.com and VeganStore.com sell a variety of items including candy, clothing, food and pet products.
To show support for the animal rights movement, AlternativeOutfitters.com donates 5 percent of gross sales to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, if customers mention the activist group in their orders. The company gives PETA 10 percent of all sales from its Pamela Anderson-brand belts and jewelry.
The retailer also requires its suppliers to sign a statement that none of their products use animal by-products.
Horrick is not content to stop with vegans, though. She intentionally left "vegan' out of the company's title, in an effort to draw customers who might otherwise be scared off by the word.
"We still haven't reached the mainstream as much as I would like,' she said. "I want everyone to shop cruelty-free.'