Julie Mathers is the CEO of Flora & Fauna, Australia’s largest 100% vegan and cruelty free beauty & lifestyle store.

They’re a brand driven by a mission to change the way people shop.

In this interview, Julie took some time to let us know everything from what the vegan philosophy means to Flora & Fauna, her vision for the future and why she loves being vegan!

Why did you decide to launch Flora & Fauna? 

I’m a strong believer we can do things better and make change. I want to drive change and not sit on the sidelines waiting for someone else to do it. I’m a passionate retailer, animal lover, vegan and I absolutely love our planet.

So I decided to create Flora & Fauna to offer customers choice and to be a transparent, authentic business that weaves community and purpose through what we do everyday.

We started three years ago in November 2014 and we’ve grown significantly in that time and keep pushing change. 

What does the vegan philosophy mean to your brand? 

We only sell products that are 100% vegan and cruelty free.

This is very important to us so it is easy for customers to find what they want and they can be assured it is vegan; many brands and retailers misrepresent what’s vegan and we remove that issue entirely.

We also look very closely at the brand and the parent company too. If there is anything that is grey or unethical we avoid it.

We are currently phasing out one brand as they have been bought by a larger parent company that endorses animal testing and we simply don’t want to support them and don’t want to offer that to our customers either. 

Further to this we also feel veganism doesn’t stop at ingredients or animal testing. It is very important to look at packaging and impact to the environment. We source many sustainable products that are either plastic free, biodegradable or eco-friendly in some way and we think it is very important we look at everything we do every day to see how we can do things in a better way.

We’re not perfect and we are on a journey like everyone else but it’s exciting getting there. 

What hurdles do you face as an ethical brand?

We love being ethical and it’s at the core of what we do and it’s represented in our values and reason for being.

We don’t have hurdles, we have amazing opportunities and we can do things other brands can’t.

We can change how we package orders, we can work with our suppliers ethically, our team are empowered to drive our business and purpose forward and our customers have choice and they can choose products from a socially driven retailer. There really isn’t anything we can’t do and we don’t have barriers. 

What’s your vision for the future?

People have the power to drive change. There will be socially driven retailers like Flora & Fauna that make change because it’s part of who we are but customers will be the ones demanding change from other businesses.

This will be driven by millennials as they align their spending power and who they work for to more socially responsible businesses.

As a global community we will be concerned far more with waste and the impact we have on the planet and it’s people who have the power to make a difference.

Don’t rely on big businesses or governments making moves, it will be too late. So let’s all get involved. 

Why do you choose to align with World Vegan Day Melbourne? 

World Vegan Day is a huge opportunity for us to be part of this growing community we love. We know a lot of the other stall holders like Sprout & Kernel, The Chocolate Yogi, Hannahpad, Hanami and Wrappa. They are wonderful people all making a difference and we love seeing them. We enjoy meeting the wider community and people either well versed in veganism or those at the start of their journey. It’s a fun, exciting and humbling event.  

What are the top five eco-friendly products you just can’t live without?

Bamboo toothbrush

Natural soap – I use it for everything, a totally underrated product and its biodegradable and zero waste. 

My water bottle

My Reusable Coffee Cup

Reusable wraps for wrapping food. 

Finish this sentence “I love Vegan Living because….

We’re making a difference everyday whether that be helping with reducing waste, reducing cruelty to animals and it’s better for our health, it certainly is for mine anyway.

Some of the world best athletes are turning to vegan diets to improve performance, slowly we’re seeing change. 

PS: It’s Flora & Fauna’s birthday today and they have free shipping across their store available here