Meet Desiree Dupuis
Alright – so today we’ve got the honor of introducing you to Desiree Dupuis. We think you’ll enjoy our conversation, we’ve shared it below.
Desiree, appreciate you joining us today. We’d love to have you retell us the story behind how you came up with the idea for your business, I think our audience would really enjoy hearing the backstory.
The year was 2016, I had been following a vegan lifestyle since 2008 when I read the book Skinny Bitch which I had picked up at YVR Vancouver Airport on my way to Maui. I picked up the book because I had always been interested in nutrition and it’s important to me to be educated on everything I put into my body. I picked up the book after a co-worker had told me that she was no longer putting milk in her coffee because of what’s in it. Her comment had me so curious and so I picked up the book and began to learn about the truth of what is in our food from chemicals, to pesticides and aspartame. About half way through Skinny Bitch, the authors begin sharing very graphic information about the absolute atrocity of the animal agriculture industry. It was the first time in my life that I realised that the piece of chicken on my plate had been a living, breathing, sentient animal and I was appalled learning about the horrifying process animals go through to end up on our plates. This new awareness had me feeling horrified, shameful, sad, and angry. Thankfully at the time I was with my best friend who is an immense animal lover and so we both stopped eating meat and pretty much went vegan that day in June 2008. Back then, being vegan was very rare. People were vegetarian or pescatarian but to be fully vegan to not eat dairy, or gelatin, or wear animal products was not very common, certainly not like it is today. Over the following 8 years, two things happened. First, I began to notice how the vegan movement was picking up and gaining momentum. The first wave of vegans are the original animal lovers and then around 2015 with the release of movies like Cowspiracy the second wave of vegans hit; the wave of people who began to understand the environmental impact of the animal agriculture industry and decided to go vegan for the planet. The second thing that happened is that I began to get more and more frustrated with the lack of designer footwear options available on the market, it was quite challenging for me to find nice designer shoes that were not made of leather or suede. Moreover, as the environmental movement started to take shape and I began realising the impact of Climate Change, I realised that not only did I not want to be purchasing animal products, I also did not want to be purchasing harmful synthetic products made with petroleum. I have an entrepreneurial spirit, I am confident and driven and I am not one to shy away from risk. I had been running my own business in financial services along with an international NPO for almost 10 years when I decided to create VOES as a solution to a problem I had been personally facing as a vegan woman. As a woman who loves fashion and footwear it was my frustration and the lack of options available that inspired me to take it into my own hands and launch my own brand with ethically made sustainable designer footwear.
Desiree, love having you share your insights with us. Before we ask you more questions, maybe you can take a moment to introduce yourself to our readers who might have missed our earlier conversations?
Hi, I am Desiree and I truly live from my heart. I focus my time and energy on endeavours that provide meaning and purpose and that truly light me up. I am a creative spirit and I live off of inspiration. I currently have two brands that I am running along with an international NGO that I co-founded with my best friend. I am the founder of a seaweed-based CPG food company called Kove which I now own and operate with 4 partners. It is so refreshing to work with people who truly value harmony, balance and sustainability in terms of life and the planet. My other company is a vegan fashion brand called Voes and Company which was founded from my vision to create a global icon for the movement based on love and compassion known as Veganism. The first product I have developed is a Chelsea boot made with Cactus leather. Moreover, I am currently Chair of the board for Ruben’s Shoes Society, a registered Charity which was created when my best friend met the boy she had been sponsoring for 7 years (Ruben) and learnt that children around the world cannot go to school unless they have shoes; along with many other elements including a uniform and school supplies. Since inception in 2013, we’ve sent 100,000 pairs of shoes around the world to help children access education and now have an Elementary school and Secondary school with over 550 students that we fund and operate in the Dominican Republic.
Read the rest here.