WCW with Bridget Brown from Filbert
We are super excited to bring you our November Woman Crush Wednesday! Bridget Brown, owner of Californian based luxury vegan bag and accessory company Filbert * is not only a crush of ours but a business woman we seriously admire. We are in love with her values and brand aesthetics, the attention to detail in every piece she creates is beautiful. This is where vegan meets luxe! Thank you so much to Bridget for this exclusive interview!
What inspired you to start your business?
I came up with the concept of Filbert after moving to a vegan lifestyle a little over 4 years ago. I became vegan for compassionate reasons: my diet didn’t match with my beliefs that animals should be loved, not eaten. I found the dietary change was much easier than the fashion aspect of trying to find luxe, beautifully crafted, made in the USA handbags. My husband Nick and I have spent the last 2 years sourcing the fabric (vegan leather, cotton canvas, a luxe microsuede), the hardware (solid brass, made in Connecticut), the lining (organic cotton grown in Texas), and finding a domestic factory to produce the goods. We think that ethical and luxury shouldn’t be mutually exclusive of each other and than things can always be made better. We launched Filbert this past March with a curated 4-piece collection of luxe cruelty-free bags available for sale at www.shopfilbert.com*. Ultimately we want to bring awareness of why using cruelty-free fabrics is a kinder option!
What is your background? Have you always been interested in vegan and sustainable fashion?
I’m originally from Mississippi where I attended undergrad at Mississippi University for Women and received a B.A in English, and then law school where I received a J.D. at Mississippi College School of Law. Upon graduation in 1998, I moved to San Francisco and not long after launched Bella Bridesmaid after seeing a need in the market for chic, modern and wearable bridesmaid dresses. Nick and I franchised the company in 2006, grew it to 43 stores across the U.S. and sold the company in 2012.
After taking some time off and spending a year in England and Europe traveling, we came up with the idea for Filbert*. I honestly didn’t know that a vegan lifestyle included what you wear and what you buy, so I only became aware of buying cruelty-free when I moved to a vegan diet in January of 2013. I’m a conscious consumer, so the idea of buying a cheap, PVC handbag wasn’t appealing. And I try to buy US made where possible, so these 2 things made my quest virtually impossible!
What sets Filbert apart from other vegan bag companies?
We set out to create a line of handbags that are not only cruelty-free, but also made domestically and mindfully…meaning, we want to know every component that goes into making the bags and where it’s from. We were shocked to find the sneaky ways that animal products or by-products made their way into most handbags, such as glue! I also believe that we’re different from other vegan companies because our products are made in small-batch and are curated. So we don’t carry a ton of inventory and a ton of styles. Just a handful of classic, well-made styles!
Why do you think many people often associate vegan accessories with lower quality and opt for leather items instead? What would you say to someone in order to encourage them to ditch leather and opt for one of your bags instead?
There’s an age-old perception that leather = luxury. It’s odd that we associate dead animal skin with luxury, isn’t it? I think there’s a newer, better way to look at luxury. Luxury to me is knowing that my products are made in a factory with good, safe conditions and where the workers are treated well and paid fairly. Luxury to me is knowing that a product was made without causing harm or suffering to anyone…human or animal.
For those of our followers in the UK can they purchase your bags?
Yes! We ship to the UK on our website www.shopfilbert.com*. Eat Sleep Organic UK readers can use the promo code ESOFREE for free shipping.
For those looking to enter a career in vegan fashion what advice would you give them?
I think right now we’re at the forefront of the vegan fashion movement, and I think there’s a lot of education that has to go along with any vegan company at the moment, which won’t always be the case, hopefully! But you have to be patient and help people understand why the vegan lifestyle is a better choice and in our case, why using cruelty-free materials rather than say leather, is a more kind and ethical choice as well.
We know you love to visit the UK! Whats your favourite vegan eatery in the UK?
Yes! My husband Nick is from North Yorkshire, so we visit often. London has a plethora of amazing vegan eateries! I try to choose somewhere different on each trip, but it’s hard to not visit Mildred’s and Tibits every time. The vegan high tea at the Charlotte Street Hotel is a must. And on my most recent trip this summer we dined at Manna in Primrose Hill, which is the oldest vegetarian restaurant in the UK. It opened in 1967, way before it was cool to be vegan! ;)
Who inspires you?
I’m constantly inspired by fellow female entrepreneurs starting cool companies and doing amazing work that combines their beliefs and lifestyle choices. Like yourselves! Laura Way of Votch. Leanne Mai-ly of Vaute Couture. Jane Goodall. Stella McCartney. Yael Aflalo of Reformation.
What are you grateful for?
My husband Nick and dog Presley. My family. My health. Public libraries. At the moment, with the recent fires in nearby Napa/Sonoma, I am especially grateful for the things we take for granted everyday like a roof over our heads, running water, and groceries in the fridge.
Don't forget for those of you in the UK you can use our special Eat Sleep Organic promo code ESOFREE for free shipping! Perfect timing for Christmas presents for your vegan bestie...or even yourself! We definitely know that The Stanyan* luxe vegan suede tote is on our Christmas wish lists...hint hint boyfriend and husband.