Velvet Heartbeat: Vegan + Ethical + Sustainable + Beautiful Bags
From the second I met Suzie, founder of Velvet Heartbeat, I knew I had found something great. Suzie grew Velvet Heartbeat out of her love for making and creating, and her passion for being part of a global shift in how we, the consumers, use items to express ourselves. Sound like your cup of tea? It's just the beginning.
I had the pleasure of meeting Suzie in her Auckland workroom, and was blown away by the level of care and compassion she puts into her creations. Firstly, her workroom was so cosy and cute, I could have sat in it all day long. We had organic juice, fruit and nut nibbles, and a whole lot of laughter. Suzie showed me her handmade bag patterns, sewing machines, and deadstock fabric.
I was super intrigued by the old coffee sacks she sources from local coffee roasters. They act as an internal structure to keep the crossover bags just stiff enough for practical use, but not too ridged that they feel uncomfortable on the body (like padding often does). In case you're wondering, they don't smell like coffee, and add another element of sustainability as they were originally destined for the landfill.
Velvet Heartbeat is all about sustainability, and I love Suzie's transparency in her materials. Three types of materials are used at Velvet Heartbeat:
1. Industry Deadstock
When companies order the wrong stock, or fabric suppliers simply don't sell their products, their materials are deemed 'deadstock'. Suzie hunts for deadstock materials, like zippers and fabric, and uses these in her own designs. This means the products are cheaper for customers, and have less impact and demand on the earth and it's resources.
2. Vintage or Re-purposed
From re-purposed coffee sacks, to hardware from clothing (like zippers and clips), vintage and re-purposing, is often best. Not only is this a great way to get thrifty and reduce rubbish, but vintage is often exceptional quality. If it's lasted a long time in it's initial use, then chances are, it will last a whole lot longer in the future.
3. Brand New
Often ethical brands are vague about the brand new materials they need in order to keep functioning. If you can't find a strong thread at a second-hand store, it's important to buy thread new, so that the bag lasts. As a believer in weighing up quality and sustainability, I'm all for this. The fact this is on the 'About' page for all to see, is admirable- I hope others follow suit.
With vegan, New Zealand made, and eco-conscious at the heart of their products, Velvet Heartbeat tick so many boxes. Not being vegan myself, I am still aware of the negative impact the fashion industry has on our animals. When possible, I choose to support vegan brands, who are truly few and far between, especially in New Zealand. Velvet Heartbeat are doing an amazing job at offering vegan products, which don't cost the earth (literally, and figuratively).
Pictured below, my green vegan leather bag has become a staple for travelling and festival-going.
DETAIL: Faux leather outer (PU, Vegan) ~ Deadstock 100% cotton lining ~ Strap with stud detail ~ Zip Closure ~ Internal zip pocket ~ Deadstock hardware (buckle and rings)
Whenever I take my Velvet Heart tote out and about, I can't help but tell at least one person "this was dyed with onion skins!" It's my market favourite, and a winner for keeping scrunched up in your handbag in case you stop at the grocery store on your way home. Made with deadstock, unbleached cotton, Suzie dyes the bags in her workspace too, using onions, beetroot, black beans, and experimentation!
Photography: IG @itsisaaccraig