Each year, PETA Australia (people for the ethical treatment of animals) awards someone as The Best Dressed Vegan. Looking for both style and passion, they found 23 year old, Kahla Dowler. When it comes to protecting animals, she means business. Literally. Her love for animals isn't just seen in what she wears, she has also opened an online boutique featuring some of her favorite vegan bags and accessories.
TAPERED: When did you first learn about animal cruelty in the industry?
KAHLA: About 2 years ago I started seeing more and more of what goes on behind the scenes of fashion. It truly broke my heart and I knew that I needed to start doing something about it in a way that I was passionate about.
T: Were you always into fashion or was the awareness of animal cruelty your starting point for running your boutique?
K: I have always been quite a creative person, especially with styling outfits and looking for classy clothing that were well priced and vegan.
T: What made you switch from being a vegan consumer to running a vegan business?
K: My biggest passion is stopping the use of animals for fashion and treating them so terribly for fashion — all so that people can say that they are wearing a fur coat or they have a real leather bag. So I decided to start something I love to help make an impact and to make a change any way I can.
T: Being named PETA Australia Best Dressed Vegan for 2017 is a big deal, what all does that entail?
K: It is an honour, truly. And I never thought it would happen so soon! It gives me a great platform to grow and a great resource for what I can offer in my store. Everyday my business and myself are growing and PETA Australia has really helped with that. I am very grateful.
T: What’s the hardest part of being in the vegan industry?
K: I will be honest, vegans can be quite harsh if something in a vegan business does not meet their standards. I feel some vegans may need a kinder approach in their preaching or advice. All vegans are trying to stop cruelty to animals, but some are being cruel to humans in the process. Vegans are part of a positive change whether it’s through food or fashion, but some need to remember that everyone is different and have their own journey and values. I respect vegans a lot because of what they do for animals, but I think we can all help the change by being kind to each other, to accept where people are at, and to help the people who want to become vegan.
T: Is there a particular process, or type of vegan leather that you find best / most durable?
K: I find Pinatex ( Pineapple leather) & PU are both good alternatives to real leather because they are strong and look great.
T: If you could be any animal, what animal would you be and why?
K: A dog. I just love them so much and feel that humans have a lot to learn from such beautiful beings. They love unconditionally and they are excited about everything! It’s a good life lesson.
T: Where do you get your inspiration from?
K: For fashion style ideas - pinterest! It’s amazing!
T: What are your thoughts on personal style and how would you describe yours?
K: I believe women look their best when they feel confident and classy! My style is chic, classy and comfortable — that is what I love and feel most confident in. The minimalist style is very chic as well, a simple pair of jeans with a faux leather jacket and white top can be so chic, simple and versatile with the right accessories.
T: How do you always start your day?
K: Everyday Monday - Friday, I wake up and make my bed right away at 6am, make a hot lemon water and sit and watch the morning awaken outside with my dog. It is a beautiful way to start the day, and I do not touch my phone until after breakfast. It is healthy to just connect to nature rather than technology first thing in the morning because for most of the day I have to be at a laptop! I always make sure to have a healthy energising breakfast to!
T: Favorite book?
K: I have a few favourite books - The Go Giver by Bob Burg, The Bingo Theory by Mimi Ikonn, and Sully, by Chesley Sullenberger (quite a mix of books there huh!).
T: If you had to wear the same outfit every day for a month, what would it be?
K: Hmm, I think it would be fitted dark blue jeans, A chic beige trench coat and a white turtleneck sweater - let’s make this a winter month! I would have a light grey vegan handbag too with some chic loafer shoes.
T: How do you define success and how do you measure up to your own definition?
K: To me, success is making an income from something you would do even if there was no money involved. In my opinion, when you choose to do something you truly love that has purpose, you will never work a day in your life. Success is so much more than money, it’s seeing yourself grow in a positive way while helping others too.