A Vegan Festival in La Belle Ville

November 12, 2017

A Vegan Festival in La Belle Ville

I went in with no expectations of what kind of response we'd get at the Montreal Vegan Festival / Festival Vegane de Montreal. I suppose when you have no expectations, you can only be pleasantly surprised by the outcome. And pleasantly surprised, I was!

Two days of excited response to the shoes we carry at SOULiers Studio with so many people coming to the realization that stylish vegan shoes can exist! It was so invigorating to receive such a warm response and appreciation for my efforts of, in some small way, furthering the vegan movement. 

The most common question asked was: "what are the shoes made of?". A good question indeed. Rather than recapping the answer here, I direct you to the SOULiers Studio site, where each shoe and bag has a description of the materials and manufacturing conditions. I also recently wrote a blog post on what to look for when buying vegan products. 

Here are some of my observations from the festival:

1. The people - everyone was so nice, so genuine, so encouraging! A special thanks goes out to the incredible volunteers that make the FVM run like a well-oiled machine. Wow, just wow. 

2. The venue - I've been to many festivals that take place in dark, windowless halls. The fact that FVM is in the light-filled, spacious Marche Bonsecours in the Old Port makes a big difference to the Festival atmosphere. 

3. More than ten thousand people made their way to the Festival over the course of two days. That meant that SOULiers Studio got lots of new exposure to people who weren't previously aware of us. Yay! It also meant thtat we barely had the time to breathe and therefore also barely had the time to stroll around ourselves. That said, on trips to the bathroom and to get snacks, I had the chance to check out of a few of the amazing vendors. Here are some of my faves, in no particular order:

- Wully Outerwear: Deep-freeze rated, all vegan parkas. I love that they're stylish too. No compromise. 

- Sophie Sucree: These guys kept us fuelled with spanakopita, coffee, and cookies!

- Sinai Gourmet: Hot sauces that will keep you drinking your nut milk of choice just to dull that burn! Full disclosure: I've already finished half of the bottle I bought at the festival in one week! 

4. The encouragement to keep going - we had SUCH a fantastic response to SOULiers Studio shoes that it just propels me forward. Although not always easy and certainly lots of hard work, I'm going to keep going with this lil' company. It felt very rewarding to connect with people who connect with my brand and product offerings. Having an online business means that you're not typically personally connected with your customers on a regular basis. Until the FVM, I didn't realize how gratifying it could be to experience that first-hand. It feels very important to me to be able to connect in this way and to represent the brand that I am building. I also realize that I am part of the brand make-up, ethos, and values which makes it all that much more important to connect in person. 

We (that's me and my sister-in-law who's also my top "sales associate" - ha!), had so much fun. As (vegan) cheesy as it may sound, that's really what it's all about  having fun and finding reward in your efforts. 

So what's next? Well, my "doors" continue to be open 24/7 on the online store throughout the winter. And then maybe we'll head to Hamilton Veg Fest and Ottawa VegFest and who knows where else! Do you have any ideas for me? If so, let me know at hello@souliersstudio.com or leave a comment here! Until next time...

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