Calgary's vegan community is amazing! We have a facebook group with over 10 000 members and counting! With more restaurants adding vegan options and more plant-focused restaurants opening, the presence of the vegan community and the demand for more vegan options in the city are definitely being noticed. But, there is still a huge gap in the market, especially when it comes to things like vegan fashion.
I am very excited that someone recognized this gap and decided to do something about it. Crystal Brown opened Calgary's only all-vegan boutique, The Grinning Goat. Crystal sources some of the best vegan and cruelty-free shoes, clothes, handbags, accessories and more (try the chocolate peanut butter cups!).
Typically on the blog, I like to put companies stories in my own words but Crystal shared her story so well, here's what she had to say:
"In 2016 I had been vegan for about four years but didn't know any other vegans in the city. One day I decided to join a group of people that were going to volunteer at The Alice Sanctuary and from that day, my life changed. I immediately fell in love with the mission of the sanctuary and was in awe of the truly amazing people who were making it happen and who were dedicating their lives to spreading the message of compassion for all animals. Soon after, I began helping 3-4 days a week and couldn't get enough. I finally felt like I was part of something that fit my passions, beliefs, and dreams. Over the next year or so, I met so many other vegans from in and around the city and I realized that we were facing the same challenges when it came to places to shop. There were no brick and mortar stores dedicated to ethical vegan fashion. In particular, the only option for purchasing vegan shoes was to order online and that can often be risky since the fit can change from brand to brand and even between different styles. After talking to many people in the community, I decided it was time for Calgary to have its own vegan boutique. "
The Grinning Goat has had amazing growth in the last year and Crystal hopes that one day they can expand into other cities and make ethical and sustainable shopping more accessible.
"The Grinning Goat is named after Arwyn, the first goat to become a resident at The Alice Sanctuary. I was given the honour of naming him when he came to the sanctuary in 2016 and decided to pay it forward by naming the store after him. The Grinning Goat is also a name that makes people smile and I want our store to be approachable and open to everyone. It's a place where we are happy to answer questions and have discussions about veganism and ethical fashion. By the way, if you are curious, Arwyn means "friend of the people."
If you've read my previous blog post about my values or shopping ethically and sustainably in Calgary, you'll know that I am very conscious of where my clothes are made, how they are made, and what they are made of. It makes me feel at ease when I can walk into a store that has the same values so I know that anything I buy is ethically and sustainably produced.
Crystal explains: "As a passionate ethical vegan myself, it is of utmost importance that the choices I make in my everyday life reflect my values. There are so many alternatives these days to using animal-based textiles that there really is no reason for wearing leather, silk, wool, fur or any other animal-derived materials. It is also of great importance that the companies we work with employ fair labour practices. Learning about the atrocities that occurred at the Rana Plaza complex in 2013 was a big wakeup call for me. It changed my focus in my personal life to not only purchasing items that were animal free but also to items where the welfare of the garment workers is taken into account as well. Veganism for me is about compassion for animals and for humans so when it came time to open TGG, I already had those priorities in mind."
I also want to point out that The Grinning Goat isn't just for vegans, it's an amazing concept that everyone should check out, who doesn't need a pair of avocado socks?!
Visit The Grinning Goat at 101, 323 17 Ave SW Calgary, AB or shop online at www.grinninggoat.ca