Introducing one powerhouse of a woman, Ania, who’s founder of the incredible ethical brand FERRON.
When Ania isn’t designing sustainable & ethical handbags and working or researching ways to reduce the negative impact on the planet, you will find her volunteering at Launchpad Reading (homelessness prevention charity) or busy with her 4 year old rescue Beagle Oscar, and 3 year old Husky Cross, Maya.
Ania is a woman after my own heart & I loved learning more about Ania & her ethical brand FERRON.
What inspired you to start your ethical brand?
It has been a long process for me to actually take the leap and go for it! I had a very good job, well paid, where I was appreciated for what I’ve been doing, but. The “buts” started to multiply throughout the years, where I questioned the purpose and mission of my being here. It was last year when I decided to finally pursue my passion.
FERRON stands for beautiful and high-quality handbags that are cruelty-free. This is what was the intention when starting the brand. I opted for vegan bags with a thought of saving the animals that are victims of our fashion vanity and thoughtless pursuit of staying on trend! Our desire for cheap clothes, our desire and entitlement to feeling like we can take someone’s life in the name of fashion horrifies me.
And whilst I’m glad to see that more and more people are happy to invest in organic and cruelty-free food, I believe we have some catching up to do in terms of the fashion items we purchase. We should be prepared to pay a little bit more for fair labour and fashion, and also for ethically made one that don’t use and harm animals. Believe it or not, I had a lady contacting me only to say that she really does like a bag but at this price point she prefers to get a real leather item. I also had a friend telling me that they’ve heard somewhere that leather is much much better for the environment than any other materials…
It saddens me that the animals aren’t considered valid beings, they’re just seen as units of production. You can really see this with items such as some of the luxurious bag company, which I won’t name and shame, that takes three crocodiles, three animal lives, just to make one bag. And this is perceived as high-end and luxurious!
Animals want to live. They don’t have a voice and I want to speak on their behalf.
What challenges or hurdles did you face starting your brand?
Oh, where should I start? (laughs).As much as the idea of running your own business might sound very appealing to some, liberating and freeing, it also comes with a lot of challenges that no one but yourself need to overcome and deal with.
There’s a lot of pressure to look and act as if it’s a piece of cake to run your own company, to look successful. But in reality it’s absolutely terrifying, it’s scary, every day is a risk and every decision is a gamble! There’s no day without me wondering if this is going to work, will I be able to make enough sales to sustain the business and help others, will the business actually be here in a year’s time!? Especially in these unprecedented times…
And there’s obviously the element of “winning” trust of your audience. As a new brand you have no followers, no support other than your family and true friends that actually believe in you and what you’re trying to achieve.
Obviously, funding plays a massive role in running a company. It’s so obvious, yet not spoken and heard of very often.
You might have finally found your calling, have the bestest product or service to offer, yet without a substantial amount of money to invest in and run your business with, it’s hard. Not impossible, but hard.
These challenges by no means are unique to me! If you’ve asked any of the emerging business’s owners I’m sure they would share similar opinions.
I can see the heart of your brand is the ethics. Can you explain more why the environmental impact of synthetics is about half compared to processing animal skin?
There’s the common argument that leather is better for the environment because it is “natural,” while its synthetic alternatives are made with polyester or acrylic. What some forget to remember is that an animal leather decomposes when it’s natural, but after all of the chemical treatments applied to a leather product, it isn’t going to decompose in their wardrobe, or when they are done using it!
At this point in time, PU leather, the material FERRON bags are made of, has less than half of the environmental impact than leather derived from animals. If you look at just the leather – on its own this material is indeed biodegradable and natural and fine. But to get that leather you have to raise the animals. Those animals, despite general perception, are not a byproduct of meat agriculture! Those are raised and kept in horrendous conditions (or hunted to extinction) just so we can wear a pair of shoes or a bag! Raising animals for fashion impacts everything from greenhouse gasses, water to soil erosion.
Once an animal is killed and skin removed, it is preserved through a process called ‘tanning’ which uses strong chemicals to prevent the skin from decomposing. This process is very toxic to both the environment and people.
And yes, I wish I could say that synthetic alternatives are already perfect and come with no environmental concerns. While this is not the case yet, new technologies will soon provide plant-based leather alternatives that are 100% biodegradable. Until that is possible, I want to demystify the environmental impact of synthetic alternatives and compare it to leather made from animal skins. I published a summary of two major studies within the fashion industry on so please go ahead and have a bit of a read. There are more and more studies that illustrate similar findings, and will look into updating the site in due course.
I’m very excited to see that consumers are changing the face of the industry by demanding that designers and retailers ditch animal-derived materials for cruelty-free alternatives that look great without causing suffering, to both animals and the planet.
How incredible being featured in Vogue magazine! How did that feel to see a vegan brand in such a highly regarded fashion magazine?
Thank you! This was such an honour for me and the brand! I remember vividly when the publication contacted me, I just couldn’t believe it. I actually thought it’s a scam and had my husband read the email and pinch me 🙂 It goes without saying that Vogue is a prestigious, luxurious and chic magazine. It brings those global standards of fashion and beauty to an audience of smart, savvy and stylish females. This is the perfect platform for FERRON to demonstrate that luxury does not mean leather. And that our bags are indeed luxurious!
It felt right, it felt as if FERRON is meant to be featured in this type of luxury magazines.
I love that you state on your site ‘The future of luxury is not leather’ I couldn’t agree more. Why do you feel many see leather as a luxury? After all is the skin of an animal that wanted to live.
I know, it’s just so weird. We, as customers, are so detached from the origin of things that end up in our homes. And the fashion industry in particular has a very interesting way of being able to be perceived as benign or harmless. We look at clothes and accessories and we just pick them, treat ourselves to the item without thinking about the colossal impact of our choices on the planet. We don’t question how the item was made, we don’t see that it affects millions of workers, billions of animals and ecosystems everywhere.
It’s also a perfect example of the inherited beliefs that leather is superior, it means business, means status. It has this certain mythology and it’s glamorous, somehow aggressive, sexy appeal.
Historically speaking it’s also been known as one of the most durable materials available which was the reason why people would buy leather clothing. We both know that this is not the case anymore though. And we just need to keep on spreading the message.
Lastly, I think that using “vegan” qualifiers can be sometimes off-putting and I totally understand that. My mission is for cruelty-free bags (or any other items of our wardrobes) to just be “fashion” and not needing any qualifiers. I want FERRON, and other animal friendly brands, to go mainstream and dominate the market. The demand is there, so I remain hopeful.
Tell me a bit more about the charity you support & why this particular charity means so much to you?
FERRON is a part of the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust supporter family. For every FERRON bag sold, £10 is donated to SWT in aid of their conservation efforts. Sheldrick Wildlife Trust has pioneered the rescue and rehabilitation of orphaned elephants for more than 40 years and is today recognised as one of the leading conservation organisations for wildlife and habitat protection in East Africa. I absolutely love what they do, how creative they are in ways they help the animals and local population!
The elephant logo is not only an expression of my love for animals and our support of wildlife protection projects such as SWT’s elephant orphanage in Kenya, but also a statement against cruelty in fashion. It’s the only way. And I’m going to wholeheartedly support it.
If you could choose one person in the public eye to be the brand’s ambassador who would it be & why?
Well, this is a very hard question as I’ve a lot of idols and people I admire for what they do and how they use their social platforms. But I must say that I’ve been kind of obsessed with Olivia Wilde lately. She’s an amazing actress, an empathetic activist and a brilliant film director. I absolutely adore Olivia’s unique fashion style and the fact that she encourages shopping vintage, secondhand, or upcycled clothes, which makes use of what already exists! She’s collaborated on a couple of sustainable fashion projects, and, in my mind, inspires people to consume less, reuse more and care about what we already own to combat textile waste and together build a more circular fashion future. My wardrobe consists of 80% of second hand clothing and 20% luxury items that I spoil myself too. Not sure what Olivia’s ratio here but from what I gather I’d like to think that it’s fairly similar 🙂 Olivia Wilde has been vegetarian since the age of 12 and has switched between a vegan and vegetarian diet for ethical reasons over the years. Every little helps.
What is the mission behind FERRON?
FERRON’s mission and purpose is to unify love for animals with the artistry of luxury. I love animals, and don’t agree with using them to our advantage, whether that’s food, entertainment or clothing. I want to demonstrate how a luxury fashion brand can push the boundaries to make products that are beautiful, sustainable and cruelty-free. The leather alternatives do not just look good, they are also better for the environment!
As you mentioned earlier, our mission statement reads ‘Because the future of luxury is not leather’.
How important do you feel it is to collaborate with influencers such as myself?
I believe it’s imperative for the brand’s growth and spreading a cruelty-free message! I’m very grateful for the opportunity to collaborate with you 🙂 This allows me to build my brand’s awareness and spread the word about FERRON. The influencers I work with create an authentic content for the brand as they believe in its mission and values. They are associated with those values and share them with their followers. I’ve met so many wonderful people through collaborations. I’ve made good friends with some of them “offline” too. I feel very privileged to own a brand that attracts so many genuine souls, like yourself 🙂
You are a new brand that’s already done so well. What’s the future for FERRON as a brand?
Oh wow, thank you so much for your kind words! I’m so pleased that you think that. Though it’s only the beginning for FERRON. I never wanted FERRON just to be an online store or one collection – I really want to be a part of the change in the fashion industry, and I hope that I am on the path to doing that. I’m planning to expand the brand with more designs, to really offer a scaled-up model where I can sell wholesale and distribute much larger quantities. I’d love to open my own boutique locally too!
I want to build a community of like- minded people around the brand. Whatever the cards hold for FERRON, I’m very excited about the future.
In closing, Ania adds:
“I’d like to use this opportunity to first say that my thoughts are with those affected by the virus in the UK and around the globe. I wish you, your loved ones, and your readers & their families, health and safety.
It was an absolute pleasure speaking with you Ania. I’m a huge fan of your brand & your ethics & I wish you the very best of luck with your incredible ethical brand Ferron. You are an inspiration. Thank you!