In June, vegan fashion brand VAUTE Couture launched a new investment program and raised more than $65,000 in only a few weeks. Since May 2016, consumers (aka, unaccredited investors) have been legally able to invest in companies in exchange for convertible notes that turn into a stock option after two years. VAUTE—founded in 2009 by vegan entrepreneur/model Leanne Mai-ly Hilgart—is offering a program in which customers can profit from the growth of vegan fashion. Unlike the high risk of investing in startups—usually dominated by the wealthy—or the donation model of crowdfunding platforms such as Kickstarter, this program allows investors to help an established, ethically motivated brand move forward and reap the benefits of its success. “If we have [this type of] support, we can reach bigger markets of people who typically buy Canada Goose or wool coats, through paid marketing campaigns, and more textile development,” Mai-ly Hilgart tells VegNews. “For every three wool-free VAUTE coats sold, a sheep doesn’t have to endure one year of factory farming, which ends in slaughter. For every down-free VAUTE coat sold, three to four geese aren’t live-plucked.” The forward-thinking brand opened a retail location in Manhattan, NY last August and sells designer vegan coats, formal wear, casual items, and swimwear.
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