What do you get when you mix vegan leather and a watch? VOTCH. We caught up with the founder, Laura Stageman, who started the company after a debilitating illness left her bath bound and glued to documentaries on animal welfare.
After struggling to find accessories that were stylish but cruelty free, her idea for VOTCH was born. We caught up with Laura to see how she balances her busy day and her tips for vegan dining…
Your alarm clock goes off at what time?
Either 7:00am or 7:30am, depending on what time I go to bed. I try to get as close to 8 hours sleep a night as possible, I always function so much better on a proper nights sleep and have learnt how important it is for my productivity and grumpiness levels.
First thing you do in the morning?
Go and make breakfast, it’s what gets me out of bed in the morning. My stomach drives everything.
Tea or coffee?
Self confessed herbal tea addict. Especially chilli chai tea, with lashings of fresh ginger and pepper.
Breakfast at home, at work or on the go and what is it?
Always at home. I make myself a decent breakfast every morning as it keeps me going and my mind focussed. Avocado rules my kitchen like so many others. I love to put it in a mini blender with some fresh lemon, garlic, salt and chilli and cover some french white beans in it and pop it on toast. Or I’ll make myself an oat based smoothie with bananas I’ve pre frozen. It always tastes better with pre frozen bananas… like breakfast ice-cream (my legitimate adulthood breakfast equivalent to how excited I used to get about cocoa pops as a child).
What does a typical day look like for you?
I get up, make breakfast, then jump in the shower. Once dressed I’ll answer any important emails and then pack all my orders from the previous evening. As we ship worldwide we get a lot of orders that come in 24 / 7 especially from the US and Australia. I’ll then walk up to my local Post Office before jumping on a train to London Fields. From there, I walk my dog, Rolo around the park before heading to my studio which is situated just off Broadway Market. I’ll then spend the rest of the day working there, answering emails, designing the next range, and focussing on marketing as we’re still a new brand. In the evening I love going to gigs or out for dinner, but if I’m heading home I have to cook something. My kitchen is my happy place with my stereo cranked up as I cook!
How many e-mails do you get a day?
It goes up and down at the moment, but as we approach Christmas around 50 ‘need to reply to, not including cute pictures of rabbits’ a day.
Is exercise a part of your daily routine? If yes, what?
Not as much as it should be at the moment. Dance is my main passion, I was recently in a dance company and my plan is to get back in to it again in the New Year. I suffered with an illness called Topical Steroid Withdrawal for a few years and my whole fitness plan went to pot during it as it was physically impossible to move, so I’m working on bringing it back again. For the time being I try to fit in pilates and Zumba when I physically can. Dancing just makes my heart happy and keeps me fit at the same time. I’m a dreadful gym goer, I need to do something with co-ordination otherwise my brain can’t handle it!
What does lunchtime look like?
I grab the salad box from La Bouche on Broadway Market pretty much all the time as it’s so delicious! They have 2 options a day and one is always vegan, so it’s my fail safe option! When the weather is good I sit by the canal and eat it – it’s my little perk from having worked in large organisations where lunch breaks were non existent, to allowing myself time to take lunch in peace! The perks of being your own boss.
What time do you get home on average each day?
I try to be home by 7pm if I’m heading home after work which gives me time to cook something nice.
Do you work when you get home or is life a digital free zone at that time?
I’d love to say it’s digital free, but running a new business means there is a lot of digital time at home at the moment…I’m working on it though as I’m aware I need to cut back. When you’re working on your own business it doesn’t always feel like ‘work’ as I genuinely love what I do now, but I definitely need to focus on less digital time at home, that’s for sure!
Is dinner typically at home or do you dine out? Favourite thing to cook and your favourite restaurant of choice at the moment?
It’s about 50/50 each week. I try to fit dinner in with friends a couple of times a week and a night with my fiance too. Then the rest of the time I’ll cook. If I’m at home cooking I’ll usually find a recipe online I want to try and grab what I need as I head home, usually it will be something like a chickpea curry with homemade cashew milk, or roast aubergine with homemade coriander pesto. Beet bourguignon is a recent favourite of mine to cook too.
If I’m heading out for dinner I try to go to Fed by Water as much as possible in Dalston. It’s ran by this fabulous Italian called Fabio and the menu is TO DIE FOR. The restaurant is completely vegan and creates some of the most innovative dishes out there. The other day Fabio gave me porcini cream pasta with vegan caviar to try from the new menu. Mind blown. Everything I eat from there I will always fantasise about for months to come. My fiance always tells me he wished I loved him as much as I love food. I do try.
Do you drink alcohol everyday?
No, not every day, 3-4 times a week really. And far less in excess as I get older and learn how to behave more.
Favourite tipple of choice?
A really, really, good gin and tonic.
Lights out at what time?
Between 11-12pm, I need book time in bed every night, switches the brain off from work.
What was your plan B?
I was a TV producer up until a few months ago, and owning my own cruelty free business was always plan B, so I guess I’m kinda working on plan B already! Better start thinking of a plan C then!