Textile and graphic designer Melanie Pyves is making a name for herself in the blogosphere, while getting the word out about vegan fashion, proving that compassion can be uber fashionable and enjoyable for all sensibilities. From high end to thrifty, Melanie’s blog, The Streets I Know is just the stepping stone to her savvy, stylish presence all over the web: Melanie contributes to Chic Vegan, Rose Pedals: Vegan Weddings and the lifestyle blog One Green Planet. See more extensions of Melanie’s vegan fashion aesthetic on Twitter, Facebook, Polyvore and Pinterest. We sat down with Melanie recently to find out how this vegan fashion veteran got her start.
Vegan Mainstream: What made you decide to begin your blog, The Streets I Know and how long has it been operating?
Melanie Pyves: I went vegan about 10 years ago. At first, I just worried about what I ate. Then one day a light bulb went off and I clued in to the fact that being vegan wasn’t just about food. It was a whole lifestyle and that meant I really had to look at everything I bought, including clothing. For years I struggled to find shoes, purses and coats not made from wool, leather or other animal products. I would even sniff shoes to see if they smelled like leather! However, in the past five years, shoes and handbags have started to use [vegan] labels. Also, actual vegan clothing lines have begun to pop up. One thing that wasn’t popping up was a website or a blog to specifically talk about all these amazing vegan fashion lines. So that’s how my vegan fashion blog was born [almost three years ago]. I love to share and I love fashion, so I figured I could be that person who helps vegans find fashionable, cruelty-free items for their wardrobes. I’ve worked in the fashion industry for almost 10 years, so I decided my blog would be a great way to put my fashion experience to work. I have to thank my readers and all the fabulous vegan fashion lines for that. Through my blog, I’ve gotten to know quite a few of the people who own vegan lines and have to say, they’re some of the most compassionate, innovative, inspiring and down right awesome people I’ve ever met! I see big things in the future for vegan fashion. So vegan or non-vegan, keep your eyes peeled on vegan fashion because [as Rue McClanahan said]: “Cruelty is one fashion statement we can all do without.”
VM: Was this your first writing/new media endeavor?
MP: My first writing endeavor was my craft blog (What The Coma Girl Designs). I started it in 2005 and kept it going until I became too busy with my current vegan fashion blog. My first freelance writing endeavors were for Chic Vegan, Rose Pedals: Vegan Weddings and One Green Planet. I regularly write about vegan fashion for all three.
VM: What are your tips for young fashionistas who want to chronicle vegan fashions on a blog?
MP: Just write about fashion you love. Everything I post on my blog I would wear myself. The great thing about having a vegan fashion blog is being able to share with people awesome fashion you love!
VM: How do you go about getting product reviews or sponsored posts for your blogs?
MP: Right now I’m lucky enough to have people contact me about doing product reviews for them. However, when I first started I would just contact people and ask them if they would be interested in me reviewing their products on my blog. As for sponsors, I’m currently working on some stellar promotional packages that will hopefully interest some vegan brands out there to sponsor my blog.
VM: What are some compassionate retailers you have partnered with and/or worked with?
MP: Right now I’m currently working on what I like to call my “Mega Vegan Giveaway.” I’m working with several vegan companies to make it possible. Without the donations of Sick on Sin, Calico Dragon Bags, The Doolang Doolang Boutique, Truth Belts, Pirouette Makeup, Vegan Mainstream [Ed. note: Yay!], Chiaralascura, Vegancraftastic and MissMuffcake, I would have nothing to give away. I always find them to be a great way to promote vegan companies and drive traffic to my blog. I’ve done many other giveaways featuring other cruelty-free products over the past three years and they are always well received by my readers.
I’ve recently worked with cruelty-free deal site Vegan Cuts. I also did a review for a few beauty products from the bath and body line Herbzone, which was one of the companies Vegan Cuts featured in a deal a few months back.
VM: What is your must-have look for fall?
MP: For me fall fashion = finding an awesome pair of boots. This Fall/Winter 2011-2012 season is all about moto boots, combat boots, granny boots (wedge, heel or flat), ankle boots, desert boots, moccasin booties and rustic knee-high boots. Another must have for fall are awesome vegan knits in the form of berets, cowls, fingerless gloves, mittens and slouchy hats. One of my fave places to find vegan knits is Etsy; they have a stellar selection from tons of different shops.
VM: How big a part does social media play into attracting new blog readers?
MP: My own personal experience with social networking has been pretty amazing. Over the past three years, my blog has grown beyond my expectations. Social networking has not just helped people find my blog but it also gives me the opportunity to connect with my readers on a personal basis. I’ve also been able to make friends with many of the innovative compassionate vegans who own and operate the fashions lines I blog about through social media; friends that provide me with support, encouragement and inspiration. Twitter & Facebook allow me to have an open dialogue on a daily basis with cruelty-free fashion lovers from all over the world. They also help my blog bring vegan fashion to the streets of the biggest of cities and the smallest of towns. I know that people in countries as close to Canada as the U.S., and as far away as New Zealand, have found my blog. I’ve assisted many a reader from different places in the world on finding a specific vegan item. I’ve helped my readers find everything from warm fashionable vegan coats to sexy vegan lingerie. Just last year I even helped a follower on Twitter find a rocking pair of vegan cowboy boots. Social networking [enables] blogs like mine to reach people in even the remotest of areas and help them find a way to be cruelty-free in all aspects of their lives, even their wardrobes. If you’re a budding vegan artist, company, crafter, blogger or musician looking for a way to reach out to people around the world, then taking advantage of social media is the way to go.
VM: Did you get to attend New York Fashion Week with a blogger pass? If not, what would you have gone to see? If so, tell us about your trip!
MP: I wasn’t able to make ti to NYC’s Fashion Week, but if I had been able to make it I wouldn’t have missed Moo Shoes Fashion’s Night Out for anything. It was hosted by vegan fashionista Chloe Jo Davis of Girlie Girl Army and featured fashion from fabulous 100% vegan lines Cri de Coeur, Vaute Couture and Brave Gentleman. There were also a plethora of tasty vegan eats from Blossom and Vegan Vine to be enjoyed. This evening was a fashion-loving vegan’s dream come true. Hopefully I’ll be able to make it out next year or have the chance to host something similar during next year’s Toronto Fashion Week.
VM: Some of your favorite vintage throwback items this year?
MP: (Vegan) Doc Martens, colored jeans and jean vests totally make me nostalgic for the ’90′s. Apparently, the whole grunge look of my teen years is making a comeback and I’m strangely okay with that.
VM: How do you utilize sites like Polyvore and Pinterest, and do you use them differently than your blog? How do you think these new social tools affecting the world of fashion?
MP: I use Pinterest as a way to collect items in one area that I want to blog about eventually. I also use it as a quick and easy way to share some of my vegan fashion finds with my readers. As for Polyvore, I use it now and then to pull together vegan outfits. I think both sites are making it very easy for bloggers like myself to find and share fashion items of all kinds. They both really do make blogging for me on a daily basis so much easier. They also help me reach a wider audience. I could easily attract the attention of a non-vegan fashion lover through both sites and maybe lead them back to my blog. This could get them to think about why they should choose cruelty-free fashion.