My goal was the same as it has been since I was ten -- to save animals. - Leanne Maily Hilgart
How powerful is that one sentence? It sums up founder of the former @vaute_nyc @Leanne Maily Hilgart's reason for starting Vaute Couture. Leanne's story connected her to her customer, and I believe that's a huge reason why she was able to accomplish what she did.
I met Leanne when she was just starting out, before she had a store or even a website. She was meeting with customers 1:1 to showcase her products and get enough orders to do a production run. In the boardroom of a environmentally-friendly magazine in San Francisco, Leanne shared her story with me.
She talked about her time in modeling, and a little bit about how Vaute Couture came to be. But what I really connected to was her "why". Why she chose to start her vegan label, and how as a little girl she always loved animals. It didn't matter that I wasn't someone who could really be described as an animal lover. What mattered is that I could so clearly see her passion for what she was doing. That made me want to support her.
Simply by telling her authentic story, Leanne connected with potential customers who wanted to buy what she was selling. At the time it was winterwear, but could it have been practically anything else? Absolutely. It was the story that mattered, not the product.
That's what makes telling your story so important to your brand.
The day I met Leanne, her products were well above my budget, and I didn't really know if I was going to buy anything at all. I ended up purchasing multiple items from her, and I felt good doing it. Her story was compelling enough for me to buy her stuff. That's where you want to be.
Leanne went on to successfully run Vaute Couture for 12 years online and in a storefront in Brooklyn. During that time, she won PETA's Most Influential Designer award and was a pioneer in vegan fashion and entrepreneurship. Though she closed Vaute last year in 2020, she paved the way for many well-known vegan brands today.
And her story is still as powerful as ever.
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