There are tons of reasons for us, as New Yorkers, to be proud of the city and state in which we live. When you look at city and state as an extension of yourself—in the larger sense—it's truly important what decisions your community is making. It's a pretty basic thought and a common reason given for the importance of representation at the governmental and political level for every citizen.
Which is why we're still so, so proud of New York for passing the Marriage Equality Act and finally legalizing love for all. The resulting passage in June has resulted, obviously, in a lot of long-awaited marriages. It's also resulted in weddings and marriage making headlines in all it's aspects of late. Not wanting to feel left out, we thought we'd jump on the wedding bandwagon by interviewing Kristin Lajeunesse, the creator of Rose Pedals Vegan Weddings—a new online resource for anyone planning a vegan wedding and a source for compelling stories of matrimonial vegan-ness. We chatted with Kristin recently about the woes and wonders of planning a vegan wedding, what it takes to make business dreams a reality, and the band, Creed. That's right—we just linked to Creed, Reader. And we're not sorry.
Rose Pedals illustration by illustrator, Amanda Chronister.
Rose Pedals illustration by illustrator, Amanda Chronister.
Kindness of Ravens: Alright, as we like to start with the obvious, I'll first ask—what made you want to start a vegan wedding site?
Kristin Lajeunesse: I always have what some would call "business" ideas. As in, my mind is always on the go and any given day or moment could spark a new idea that I “have to” follow. But I've come to learn that I usually pursue something that, when I first think of it, just won’t go away. And it seems incredibly exciting, and maybe a little scary, but I can't stop thinking about it. Several months ago I was putting a lot of energy into coming up with an online business model, and, during that process I thought, “How cool would it be to have a vegan wedding resource online.”
I still remember the exact moment when I thought, "I MUST do this!" I was standing at the Boylston T stop in Boston, MA... just got out of work at my 9-5 job and kind of out of nowhere I thought—“Rose Pedals. Like a bicycle. Wait, Rose as in the flower but also a person…and Pedals...like petals but also like pedals. Haha!” And then it was like a burst of energy… a Web site name came to me in a blink of an eye and there was no turning back.
From that day forward I started planning the details of the site. And at the time I really had no idea what I was doing so I basically taught myself how to set up a Web site, a business email account, business PayPal account, ad and vendor listings, and all that stuff associated with running an online site of this sort.
The site launched in a rushed two-month timeframe in order to go live in Valentine's Day of this year. It was awesome.
KoR: Man. That is pretty impressive. So, may as well get to the inevitable vegan business-owner question—what made you go vegan?
KL: That's kind of a long story. Do you mind if I refer to you to a section on my travel site that explains the whole thing? Here it is (scroll down to "my vegan story").
KoR: Fair enough. So, I'm assuming you're a big wedding fan?
KL: Hm. Not really. Eeek! I hate admitting it but aside from always kind of having an interest in event planning—I really like to plan and host events... last year I organized the first ever vegan fashion show on the East Coast at a veg expo in Albany, NY! That and I may have spent too much time watching TLC's "Perfect Proposal" in high school. I really am not a wedding person. I don't really plan to get married anytime soon, if ever. Well, it's not totally out of the question, but it's something that isn't super important to me right now. But weddings are cool. I will admit that I usually get choked up when I see a bride walk down the aisle. Aaaaand some of the stories that are sent into us get me a little choked up too. Just sayin'.
KoR: Man, this is like Watergate…. So, pressure's kinda on if you do get married to kinda have a gigantic vegan wedding blow-out, eh?
KL: LOL—yup… I've got more resources now than ever before, and hopefully more will come in over time. So yeah... it better be the kick-assiest vegan wedding of them all… should the day ever come.
KoR: So you've been up-and-running since February. Going well, I assume? Positive response?
KL: It's been going pretty well. I was running the full one-lady show until a couple of months ago when Melissa came on board to volunteer to manage the blog. She's the best, by the way! There were two kinda big things that happened from the launch—VegNews picked up the launch, which drove mad traffic to the site, and then I hosted an NYC Getaway contest, where one couple won a weekend in NYC and an engagement photo shoot. That drew a lot of attention as well. But since then things have quieted down. I've also been very, very busy working and planning my next 'big idea', so I'm so grateful to have Melissa helping me out. I'm hoping to have a little more time in the upcoming months to invest in the site. It's been up for 6 months now and I think it needs a facelift.
KoR: Okay then, I have to ask—what’s the NEXT big idea?
KL: In just a couple weeks I'm heading out on a vegan-food-focused road trip across the US—all 50 states! The goal is to eat at every 100% vegan restaurant in the country while documenting the trip via my blog, YouTube, and other social media channels. I'll be interviewing restaurant owners, other vegan business owners, and volunteering at farm sanctuaries and animal rescues along the way. You can read more about it here. This was another one of those ideas that I just couldn't put down until I put it into action. I'm super excited about it!
KoR: Oh, wow, that sounds AWESOME. We’ve got some area recommendations for you when you’re in town. Back to the Rose Pedals site, it seems to provide a fair mix of narrative, story-based content on real-life vegan weddings/proposals and resources for vegans wanting to plan a wedding of their own. Are you finding one part of that more compelling to you audience than others or do they strike a pretty even balance on the site?
KL: People LOVE the real stories. They eat them up... especially when there are food pics involved.
KoR: Have you heard any good vegan honeymoon stories? Any plans on adding that as either a resource or story source on the site, by chance?
KL: Oh, great question—Melissa, who works with me, JUST suggested we add a page for honeymoon stories, so we're workin' on that now! If you've got any, please send 'em our way.
In the meantime, this is one of the best proposal stories on the site. I know, I know, it's not really relevant to this question but I have to share it. When I read this I thought, now THIS is a proposal story I'd like to tell.
KoR: Man. Hawaii makes everything better! So do you see the site going in a particular direction in the future or sort of just growing within the existing format?
KL: I'd love to update it, make it easier for vendors to submit their info and pics, make it more streamlined…but that costs money I don't have just yet. We did JUST change our vendor offerings because most of the vendors now are listed for free... but I figured, if I really want to give this a go and build up the site, I can't do it out of pocket. I'd also like to add a section about charitable resources for couples who want to have donations sent to their favorite charities instead of getting gifts.
AND...this is kind of top secret but, oh well—I'd LOVE to start a vegan bridal registry. I spent a little time a while back trying to figure out how that would work. But for the time being it's waaaaaay outside of my time and budgetary limits. It's just one of those ideas I can't stop thinking about. So we'll see.
KoR: Oh, that WOULD be cool. More breaking news from Kindness of Ravens!!! So, what's one of the trickier things to pull off vegan at a wedding, in your opinion? I feel like the food and cake are pretty obvious to most people as far as vegan priorities, but, as with any wedding planning, there are ALL these details that you don't consider until you're right up on 'em.
KL: This is true, and being that I'm not a wedding planner, it's hard to say. But from what I've heard, the menswear seems to be the most challenging to veganize. And sometimes shoes, for the ladies.
KoR: I know you're not based here, but, as someone involved in the greater nuptial world, were you psyched about New York State legalizing same-sex marriage in June?
KL: I'm from New York, actually—upstate (don't judge)—so yes, I was VERY excited!!!!!!!!!! Still am! I hope this progress continues across the country sooner rather than later!
KoR: Agreed! Who are some of your favorite vegan-run businesses, wedding-related or not?
KL: I LOVE Liz Lovely Cookies—I love their branding, their messaging, their Web site, and of course, their cookies! And I have to mention Vegan Mainstream because I've worked as their social media manager for two years and I love my boss, Stephanie. She's so driven and passionate. And how could I ask for a better job? Marketing (my grad degree) + veganism (my life) = happy Kristin. I also adore The Ethical Man and Vaute Couture. Dan and Leanne are adorbs and I can't get enough of how awesome they are!
KoR: A list of VERY admirable vegans, there. Alright, quickfire—favorite vegan restaurant in Boston?!
KL: True Bistro.
KoR: Ooh. Though their use of Papyrus on the menu pains us...their green curry sings to us from afar.... Dog or cat person?!!
KL: Both (more cat)!
KoR: Agreed! Favorite recent vegan find, food or non-food?
KL: TOMS vegan shoes.
KoR: We like the ninja-mummy boots. Band you can't stop listening to lately?!!
KoR: Hah! We posted a tight song with her in it at the beginning of the month! Favorite recipe of late?
KL: Chickpea cutlets from Veganomicon.
KoR: Oh, good one. Coolest wedding invite you've ever seen?
KL: I tell you when I see it.
KoR: Daaaaaaaamn. I’ll submit our portfolio then. Book you're reading right now?
KL: Sex at Dawn.
KoR: Haven't read it. Best wedding song ever?
KL: “I Want Your Sex.”
KoR: I see a theme here…. Finally, and most importantly in case this ever comes up—If you were presented with the power to suddenly, miraculously make all weddings from here on out totally vegan and cruelty-free...but could do so only by also making everyone's wedding band from here on out Creed performing all original material...peppered with 3 or 4 hip-hop covers....would you do it?
You can check out Kristin's wedding site, Rose Pedals Vegan Weddings, for both über-sweet vegan wedding stories and wedding planning resources (including a entry for these lovely vegan designers...) and check out her cross-country vegan travel site, Will Travel For Vegan Food, to track her vegan culinary adventures.