Louisville’s Designer Vegan Bags: GRACESHIP

It’s always a good thing when vegan products make the news, because it puts the word vegan – and the beliefs behind it – in the minds of people who may not have thought about such an issue. Consumer goods, and in particular designer goods, often seem far removed from the animal rights activism that we engage in every day by choosing plant-based foods. But activism takes a variety of forms, and I’m happy to hear that GRACESHIP, a Louisville-based company making designer women’s laptop bags, has put this message at the forefront.

It’s with this in mind that I was excited to learn about GRACESHIP’s receipt of PETA’s “PETA-approved Vegan” logo, certifying them as a cruelty-free company:

GRACESHIP meets the high standards PETA sets for endorsement, and is the only Kentucky based company to have received the endorsement. GRACESHIP utilizes advanced technology in its manufacturing process to create premium products without sacrificing durability or style. GRACESHIP bags resist scratching, fading, and water damage. [press release]

I spoke with GRACESHIP’s Emily Gimmel about the company, and her thoughts on sustainability:

TNTSU: Congratulations on the PETA certification. Did you pursue this, or did they come to you after learning about the product?
GRACESHIP: Thank you, Sam! We learned about the new Vegan-Certified program that PETA was starting, and brought our line to their attention. We went through an extensive application process where they assessed our company and brand… and found out a few weeks later that they accepted us!

Can you talk a little about why you decided to make the line with vegan/synthetic leather?
At GRACESHIP, a primary reason our products are made from animal-friendly materials is because animals deserve to live and breathe free from suffering just as we do! Plus there are various other advantages to this alternative material. Our vegan leather is very low maintenance, so you can effortlessly remain stylish while maintaining an on-the-go lifestyle. Furthermore, choosing vegan products like ours mean you can remain confident that your bag won’t lose its impeccable and consistent color. Genuine leather is notorious for fading, becoming blotchy, and cracking. Our laptop totes will maintain their ideal shade and continue to look as if you pulled it right out of the box! Through our rigorous testing processes and compliance with the California Prop. 65, we also guarantee our products are both lead and chemical free. Using vegan leather also allows us to create a product that is accessible to a larger market. Our price point is well below many designer leather laptop bags, and we are able to offer a product that looks and functions as well or better for a more easily attainable price.

Does the sustainability factor of the brand play an important role in marketing, or is that a “bonus” and simply ethically satisfying?
Sustainability is something we feel very passionately about. We strive to be ethical in everything we do as a business, and think that our customers appreciate our efforts. The fact that the products are vegan is a great bonus for us. We want to educate consumers to let them know that good fashion does not have to be synonymous with waste, cruelty, or greed.

What are some things that women who travel frequently can do to be more sustainable?
There are so many things you can do! Be conscious of your choices. Limit fuel usage as much as possible. If you have the choice of whether to drive or fly to your destination, calculate the possible environmental impact of each choice, so you can make an informed decision. Where possible, take a non-stop flight. Pack lighter to limit the amount of fuel that plane or car requires to carry you. Once you have reached your destination, rent a bike or use public transportation instead of a car. If you have to rent a car, ask for a hybrid vehicle. While traveling, limit eating out whenever possible- bring your travel snacks from home, and if you have access to a kitchen, cook your own meals. If you don’t, try out some locally sourced restaurants to sample local fare and limit the environmental impact of your meal. Stay away from disposable “travel-friendly” products- bring your own water bottle and reusable silverware for eating on the go.

When choosing where to stay, research your hotel options, and stay in one that is environmentally aware. Some larger chains that focus on the environment are Kimpton, Hyatt, The Fairmont, and Marriott- but searching for a small boutique hotel can often land you in a greener spot. Treat the hotel like your home: turn the lights, air and electronics when you leave. Limit the length of your shower, and reuse your towels (they aren’t dirty after one use so there is no need to wash them). These actions may not affect you financially like they do at home, but they have the same environmental impact.

Do many of the employees of GRACESHIP follow a vegan lifestyle?
The employees at GRACESHIP follow varied lifestyles when it comes to food choices, but we all recognize the needless harm (both for animals and the planet) involved in using leather for fashion products. We are huge animal lovers, and our office mascot Harper, the dog, brings joy to our lives every day!

Are there any plans to develop a “budget” or less expensive line?
We have a lot of pride in the craftsmanship of the GRACESHIP products, and feel that we offer them at a fair price point. The GRACESHIP brand was created in part to offer a less expensive, well made alternative to very expensive designer bags. We have been known to offer occasional giveaways or discounts on social media, so savvy shoppers should keep an eye out for those!

Where do you see GRACESHIP in five years?
GRACESHIP aims to become an authority for mobile professional women. Our goal is to be a top of mind, go to brand for women who work and travel. We constantly strive to expand our customer base and international reach. We have plans to expand the product line, using input from our customers to create products that truly fulfill their needs, and offer them more fashionable and functional products that add value to their busy lives. We will continue to focus on sustainable growth and ethical practices as our business grows and our goals are achieved.

Thanks to GRACESHIP for their time!