Friday, December 17

VEGAN PROFILE: Fashion Designer - Bri Cheeseman

Location: Inside Bri's world.

Bri of Secret Squirrel

The beautiful lady in the picture above is Bri Cheeseman: the designer and driving force behind the label Secret Squirrel. I have a few Secret Squirrel pieces in my wardrobe including a beautiful pleated black skirt and a bedazzled cardigan which I absolutely adore! So I was excited to book their A/W2011 shoot! But what thrilled me the most was when I learnt that Bri is a die hard vegan!!! On the day of the photo shoot she went all out and prepared a delicious vegan lunch for everyone!! The entire crew ate vegan including different types of nutty and grainy breads, varieties of hummus, baba ganoush, tofu steaks, mushrooms etc… SERIOUSLY the works!! Oh and vegan cake for dessert! Everyone who worked on the shoot could not believe how delicious veganism can be and was so impressed by the food.

I also managed to persuade Bri into giving an interview and took a few snap shots of some of her cute pieces!!

Here is what Bri and I talked about


Bri with one of her beautiful pieces

My main job is designer and co-owner of fashion label Secret Squirrel. We have been established for about 6 years now and are a 100% Australian made, independent label who make gorgeous clothes for discerning ladies. Simple, elegant, young, modern and a little innocent – Secret Squirrel is all about clothing that oozes luxury but is never ostentatious.

I have also worked as a florist for 14 years and continue to do so on top of the work I do for Secret Squirrel. Floristry is something I fell into - I was living across the road from a florist shop when I first moved up to Sydney and needed a job and the rest is history! I do really love it, even after all these years- how could you ever get sick of gorgeous flowers? Floristry is all about combining and layering colour and texture, which is something that has translated across to the design I do at Secret Squirrel.

Quick Veg bio:

  • I gave up meat when I was 9, so have been a vegetarian for 23 years. 
  • My favourite animals would have to be my two dogs, Boo and Pip, who are a pair of misfits we rescued from the pound. Most of the time they are an absolute delight.
  • I love home-made banana ice-cream: chopped frozen bananas and a splash of soy milk blended in a food processor until it has the consistency of ice cream- it’s a constant in our household.
  • For anyone interested in investigating veganism and ethical food choices I recommend reading “the ethics of what we eat” by Peter singer and Pim mason. It is a fantastic, eye-opening book that will really shake up the way you consider food.
Boo and Pip

What triggered you to become vegetarian? Is there anything specifically?
I have to admit that in the beginning I think I became vegetarian purely because my older sister decided to stop eating meat and I idolized her (and still do) so at the time, anything she did I copied along. I never liked the smell of meat cooking which was also a contributing factor..

Over the years it has become more of a health and ethical decision for me, and while I don’t call myself a vegan, I don’t eat any dairy products or animal by-products because the processes involved with producing all this meat and dairy is devastating both for the animals being farmed and also for the environment.

Looking at designers such as Stella McCartney, Gorman and Yeojin Bae, do you feel like there could be an animal/eco friendly movement waiting to happen in the world of fashion?
I think more and more there will be designers who practise animal/eco friendly operations and that should be applauded. The more people strive to be ethical, green companies the better. I wonder about a full on “movement” happening in the fashion world though, I think it will always be an alternative route to take, rather than the norm.

Myself with Bri
How do you approach leather and fur? (These materials are very popular at the moment, do you compromise your materials to fit with what people want to wear or do you disregard this look completely?)
Secret Squirrel is not a trend driven label, so while we pay attention to what is happening in fashion, we don’t really let that dictate what we design. Of course, the fact that these materials are popular at the moment in fashion means that there are lots of variations of them available at the fabric wholesalers we visit, so if we like what we see there we go with it.
We have just designed a range of faux- leather garments for our forthcoming winter 2011 collection that look fantastic and extremely like the real thing. I would always choose this option over using real leather in our designs. Same goes for faux fur which I would use happily if I found a quality I really loved, but wouldn’t ever consider using the real thing for Secret Squirrel.

 Have you ever felt pressured to hide your values?No, I’ve never felt pressure to hide my values. These days, I don’t really think choosing to be a vegan or similar is something that is considered so radical as perhaps it once was. I never feel the need to impose my lifestyle decisions to people either, although I’m always up for lively discussions with interested people about animal rights and the ethics of food.

Beautiful nautical inspired shirt

What is your biggest challenge eating out?
Wheat. I don’t eat any wheat (on top of everything else!) and while it’s socially acceptable to ask “does that have any dairy in it?” often, when you follow it up with “does is have any wheat in it?” you can get a bit of attitude. Vegan options at restaurants can still be really disappointing as well, but once you know where is good to go, you just keep going there.

Do you only go to vegetarian restaurants, or do you enjoy picking out vegetarian options (or hassling the staff to create a personalized dish?)
Both. Depends on who I’m dining with- some friends/family will only go to restaurants with meat options on the menu.

Do you ever have health concerns being a vegetarian? How do you get around this?
No, I think this a huge myth about the vegetarian diet, that we’re all anaemic or wasting away from malnutrition. It’s important to educate yourself about food and know how to eat a balanced meal to ensure that you are getting enough vitamins and nutrients to be healthy, but this isn’t restricted to vegetarians. Lots
of meat eaters have unhealthy, unbalanced diets but think they’re ok because they eat meat regularly and it doesn’t really work like that.

I do try to eat as much organic fresh food as I can for health reasons.

Im so naughty, Im obsessed with bedazzlement... I want to take this cardi home!

 The latest look book will be released in January! To celebrate the Vegan Spirit she may also be doing a GIVE AWAY on this blog!!  So keep your eyes pealed for the upcomming collection !
Xx Yas


Anonymous said...

Ooo great interview! I just won some secret squirrel pieces in a blog competition so I'm delighted to know that the designer is vegan and passionate about animal rights :)

Definitely a label to watch

Roz said...

Bri's work looks LOVELY!!!!! As are Boo and Pip! Thanks for the interview, it's a great read.

Sarah Elizabeth said...

That is such a great post!! I only just discovered the horrors of commercial dairy two weeks ago and have managed to stay away from it since then -going to work on making it permanent! Love hearing about others that focus on these topics!! Will check out that book :0)

Also love to hear about sustainable, Australian made fashion labels, it's so important!

Such a great interview, thanks for sharing!

Frou Frou said...

Baba Ganoush! Yummmm. Sounds like my kind of catering!

Another great vegan profile Yasmine! I'm really enjoying these little insights.

purplegrape. said...

Im glad you're enjoying these profiles! Thanks for commenting on my blog guys :) it spurs me on to find more interesting veggies and share their ideas with the world!!

Xx Yas

Indian Sarees said...

We have a huge collection of designer clothes like Sarees, Salwar Kameez and Lehenga Cholis visit -

Anna B said...

Bri sounds so sweet! Keeping my eyes peeled for her lable and the give away!!

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