The Kind Life is a community around Alicia Silverstone and The Kind Diet where friends, doctors, experts in green living, and members share vegan tips.

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How Leanne Mai-ly Hilgart Started Vaute Couture

 

I’m so thrilled to introduce our first guest blog by Vaute Couture founder Leanne Mai-ly Hilgart. She has an inspiring story, and she’s so warm and wonderful and cute! Just like her coats!

Anywho, here is Leanne’s first blog:

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Hiii!!! Ohmygosh, I can’t tell you how excited I am to meet you guys (web-meet that is!) I’m Leanne (Mai-ly Hilgart), and this was me when I was ten… at the time everyone in my class was obsessed with Limited Too & TRL countdowns (maybe they still are? I have no idea, I have no TV inBrooklyn!) but all I could think about was animal rights and making stuff.

I was obsessed with my Easy Bake oven and making my own clay necklace beads from dough I made in the kitchen, was constantly researching new ways to hand make statement tee shirts with puffy paint and stamps I hand carved from potatoes (you know the kind), and most of all, was all about rebranding everything I owned (ahem, like my Trapper Keeper) with AR slogans, dogs, cats, and my very own “logo” of a paw print with my initials in it and the year written across the paw tips. I also cut my own hair (1 inch of uneven bangs, thankyouverymuch!) & dressed myself (off the shoulder unicorn tees, 80’s dresses) in a way that meant very quickly I had cleared the Uncool List. One boy told me that he couldn’t imagine anyone ever liking me, not “like that.” No one could understand why I cared so much about animals and so little about, well, what everyone else cared about.

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More than my look, though, was what I cared (and didn’t care) about. I didn’t like the mass-made stuff in the mall; I liked creating stuff. But mostly, I couldn’t stand seeing others treated unfairly and I was very curious how things were made and where they came from. I had a voice inside me that wouldn’t shut up, as much as my 10-year-old self wished it would. When my sixth grade teacher asked me to pick my social studies fair topic to be about something I really cared about, I picked Factory Farming, Vivisection, and the Fur industry. I didn’t know what we were doing to animals exactly, but I knew whatever it was we weren’t talking about it, and I had to get to the bottom of it. Soon, Peter Singer instead of YM became my new favorite read.

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Before starting my research, I titled my project “Being Cruel Isn’t Cool” and that title soon became my first published tee shirt slogan, sold by a company then called Wild Wear, and I was paid in, well, tee shirts. Fast forward through junior high, high school (I waged a campaign against my high school to offer dissection alternatives and we won—that year a bill became law in Illinois requiring it), to college where I ran an animal rights organization on campus and later was discovered by a Ford Modeling Agency scout in a summer for fun acting class.

Long story short, I had no idea what I was going to do with my life… I felt terribly, utterly, lost. Could I be an activist for a living? How could I help others see how easy it was to care, to be vegan? I had to figure out where I could put my time into making a difference where it was needed most. On a very lonely modeling contract in Taipei, I had read in the Seven Spiritual Laws of Success that this junction of who you are and what the world needs was Dharma, a place of abundance. Doing marketing for then start-up Sittercity.com I realized that business could be an incredible venue for activism IF you purposefully developed each part of the process to create good in itself.

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While in Hong Kong on a modeling contract a couple summers later, I thought again about my frustration every winter with not being able to find a winter dress coat that was at once vegan and actually warm enough for a Chicago winter. I had no idea anyone else wanted one or would pay for one, but I did realize that if I could reinvent the dress coat to be at once vegan, and as protective (or more) than a conventional wool coat, then it would be something that would show the world we didn’t need to wear animals to stay warm. And so, I quit my modeling contract with Ford, and my MBA, and started on 80-hour weeks of fabric research in the fall of 2008 to develop this coat… I did it without any formal background in fashion or any experience in apparel manufacturing, with the sheep in my heart. One of my favorite poems is the E.E. Cummings one: “I carry your heart, I carry it in my heart” because that’s where I keep the animals, always.

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Friend Leanne

Thank you, Leanne! Do you have more questions about how to get a vegan business off the ground? Leave them in the comments below!

 

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  • Marko Vegano

    She is a wonderful person. I am so very happy for her success. I met her here on, The Kind Life. I ask a question that she answered so openly, honestly and personally. I was touched. At that time I had been a vegetarian since 2006, but that day, August 20, 2012, I became vegan. I still keep in touch with Leanne on Facebook and she is still so amazing in spirit. I am vegan because a wonderful person touched my heart and showed me how important that is, for me, the world, but mostly for the voiceless. Thank you Alicia for having her on as your guest. You are so wonderful. Go Vegan!

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    ..Download these 54 masterfully designed business book notes that will give you all the wisdom & strategies you need to make millions in life. http://www.TheBillionairesBrain.com