Julie Gueraseva dishes on new vegan style mag Laika! »
I recently told you about Laika, the new vegan lifestyle magazine, and now I have a special treat! Laika’s creator, Julie Gueraseva, was kind enough to answer some questions for us! I don’t know about you guys but I find these answers pretty awesome and inspiring. Enjoy!
Why did you start Laika Magazine?
Julie Gueraseva: I want to see animal liberation happen in my lifetime. And if not within my lifetime, then at least see definitive indications that it is in active progress. This magazine is my way of contributing to the movement, utilizing everything I have learned and all of my skills to their maximum capacity in advocating for animal liberation. I can be frank here: this magazine is a very strategic tactic. Of course, it goes without saying that I wanted to express my creativity and give other talented people an opportunity to do the same. Of course, I want to offer readers compelling, engaging and imaginative subject matter. But the real mission of this magazine is to spread compassion. And the strategy is basically carrying out this mission via a creative, dynamic format. I believe in a diversity of tactics. And this magazine is just one tactic. We all gotta get our hammers out and start hammering away at monolithic decaying status quos in any way we can, until they crumble.
How long did it take to launch Laika and produce the first issue?
The idea came about a year ago. The first photo shoot happened in January 2012, but the bulk of the work happened from June through October. So I would say about 5-6 months. In terms of the launch, I planned the party in about two weeks, and before that I was conscious to not put out much advanced buzz, because I felt that something like this needed to be delivered as a surprise, unexpected.
Were there any surprises along the way?
There’s many surprises I could talk about, but I will highlight one particular thing… Right before I launched, I thought that orders for the magazine would come primarily from metropolitan areas, concentrated on the coasts. But it turned out to be totally unexpected. It’s not concentrated in any particular geographic area- it’s from all over the country, literally. New Mexico, South Carolina, Minnesota, East Coast, West Coast, North, South, towns I’d never heard of, even a Military address. And digital is from all over the world- places as far as Sweden, Australia and Brazil. It just feels to me now that there’s more of us than we’ve been led to believe. It makes me feel very encouraged and hopeful. And if those subscribers are not all vegan, then they have definitely been awakened to something, and are tuning into their compassion.
How has the magazine been received by the vegan community?
Very beautifully. I have seen some genuine, wonderful support, from people I have never met— but suddenly they feel like family. (I was very touched that you Megan—never even having met me before—not only came to the party, but also wrote a post about it the very next day, and a very genuine post) [Ed. note: I know, I’m the best!]. So basically, I have seen kind gestures and words, that have been very touching, very moving and it is hard to even write about them without tearing up. We’ve all been discouraged sometimes, if we’ve been hurt or let down by someone. I’ve heard from time to time philosophical questions posed…are people inherently good, or bad? Well, after this experience, my life-long belief that people are in fact inherently good has not only been reaffirmed, but I see now just how much infinite we are all capable of. It’s all there. I am really really inspired by Laika’s readers right now, and the vegan community as a whole.
Has there been any response from the non-vegan community?
Well, interestingly, the very first piece of press came from Crain’s New York—not known to be a vegan publication. And I remember the person who did the phone interview with me was completely respectful and genuinely interested in the concept of a vegan lifestyle magazine, and essentially treated it as not some kind of niche publication, but just a new interesting-sounding publication worthy of covering. And then after that, I definitely got a lot of positive feedback from omni friends, and friends of friends, who had seen the magazine (some of them tweeted about a “vegan magazine”). I’ve also gotten inquiries from people interested in contributing— not all of them vegan, and a few emails from people within the design community complementing the design. Many of the vegan readers have reported showing the magazine to their non-vegan friends and family, citing positive reactions. It does feel like word has spread to outside of the vegan community, and is continuing to do so.
How did you get so many great vegans involved?
Some people—like Joshua Katcher and Melisser Elliott—I had already known, admired, and had worked on other projects with. My twin sister Stacy is someone I’ve known since birth, who is also vegan and a great writer, so she was a natural choice. And then there were people who I either sought out, or was put in touch with by other peers—like Hannah Kaminsky, who was introduced to me by Melisser. Some connections really felt like kismet, like with writer James McWilliams. My friend and fellow vegan Jessica Turner (who had by then been modeled for the magazine’s beauty feature) forwarded me an article of his one day out of the blue, which I really loved. I already knew who he was of course, and thought—what if I could get him to write a piece for my magazine? To my astonishment, he enthusiastically agreed. As did Melissa Schwartz, when I asked her if she would shoot the cover. I had already been a fan of her photography and activism, and finally met her at the Animal Rights Conference in DC over the summer (which was an inspiring, energizing experience—highly recommend everyone to attend one). After the conference, I reached out to her and proposed my cover idea, and she ended up shooting a beautiful cover, as well as the back cover.
Besides veganism, are there any other social issues you’d like Laika to address?
I would like to examine all of the aspects of animal agriculture and its toll on our world— the environment being one. Workers’ plight within the animal agriculture system is something I would also like to address. There are egregious workers rights violations, exploitation. It’s just a horrible industry for not only animals, but people as well. Slaughterhouses, for example, have the highest turn-over rate of any industry in the world. I’d like to shed some light on that. The psychological damage of working in an industry that exists to satisfy a demand for which there is no justification, are catastrophic.
There are many issues I am passionate about. Any kind of human rights violations shake me to the core. What is happening in Gaza right now is very distressing to me; indefinite detention, recently signed into law—deeply troubling. Is that something I can see being covered in a vegan lifestyle magazine? I don’t rule it out. But my focus is advocating for animals. I side with Leo Tolstoy, who once said: “As long as there are slaughterhouses, there will be battlefields.”
What is your favorite non-vegan magazine?
For articles, the Atlantic; for design, this design magazine called Grafik. I check out Vanity Fair and the New York Times Magazine. I don’t know if I have a “favorite” mainstream magazine anymore. I used to. There have been some really great, inspiring publications, like Vibe in its early days, the British music magazine Q; I used to look at a lot of fashion magazines like French and Italian Vogue. But over the years, they’ve become harder and harder to look at, with all the dead animals permeating the pages. Which is a reason I started Laika. No risk of seeing dead animals! These days, if I look at a non-vegan mag, it’s mostly for research.
Bonus question: What’s your favorite animal?!
A tie between koalas and turkeys. If I ever come face to face with a koala in this lifetime, I will have an epic melt-down, in the style of Kristen Bell and the sloths. Turkeys, I’ve met in real life. They have qualities I most admire and enjoy in others: curiosity, kindness, affection and loyalty. They are unique and completely charming and fun to be around. One turkey in particular has my heart - Beatrice. She lives at Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary in the Catskills. I met her there last summer, and I miss her.
Laika magazine: New super-dope Vegan quarterly! »
Have you been wanting to burst out of your comfortable vegan shell and upgrade to an ultra-genius-hottie vegan? Laika magazine is here to help you out!
I went to the launch of Laika a few nights ago and what a party. With eco-friendly mojitos and delicious food from Cinnamon Snail, you know I was happy. And my favorite NYC vegan fashion plate, Leanne of Vaute Couture, was there, as was the ever-talented Joshua Katcher. Both made contributions to this inaugural issue. And of course, Laika creator Julie Gueraseva was there too. I spoke to her briefly, she’s plain lovely. Basically: I’m drinking the Laika Kool-Aid.
The spread at the launch. Hubba hubba!
The only thing I regret about the party—and I know you’re going to kill me for this—there was an elaborate cheese spread from new vegan cheese company Treeline Cheese and I didn’t try any. I know! I’m sorry! But people were buzzing around the cheese plates like cray and I actually had to run back to work because I’m hella important so I didn’t have time to muscle my way in. But I swear to the Vegansaur gods, I will try the cheese and tell you how it is.
So Laika covers vegan fashion but also food and travel. Plus this issue profiles several young vegan activists. There’s something for everyone. If you’ve been wondering where the title comes from, that’s my favorite part:
LAIKA Magazine is named after the stray dog who died within hours of being launched into outer space inside Soviet spacecraft Sputnik 2 on November 3, 1957. About sending Laika into space, scientist Oleg Gozanko, part of the original mission, said “We shouldn’t have done it … We did not learn enough from this mission to justify the death of the dog.”
Aw, sad. But that dog does deserve a namesake. R.I.P. little pal. Get your subscription to Laika here!
Anne Hathaway’s custom vegan Tom Ford boots! »
Tom Ford did a vegan version of his spring 2013 boots for Anne Hathaway to wear at the New York premiere of Les Misérables, because she is a famous vegan movie star, and why wouldn’t Tom Ford make you, famous vegan movie star, fabulous a vegan version of his elaborate bondage-sandal boots for the premiere of your latest, biggest movie in New York City?
I’m not in love with the actual boots, but I am in love with the idea of designers accommodating their vegan movie star fans with ethically appropriate fashion pieces. Dear Anne Hathaway, please wear these to the grocery store.
So Necessary: 55K Crocodile skin backpack from the Olsen Twins. Yes. »
This edition of So Necessary is brought to you by the Olsen twins. This backpack the two young women just unveiled is priced at $55,000 and made from the skin of Nile crocodiles. How rude indeed.
It may surprise you to hear that animals bred specifically to be skinned for accessories aren’t generally treated very humanely. Shocker, I know. But need a reminder? I have one for you (warning: this gets the coveted graphic as fuck rating):
Can’t see the video? Watch it on Vegansaurus.com!
For those not watching the movie—and I don’t blame you—it’s the usual stuff: torture, animals being skinned alive, blatant cruelty and inhumanity. But obvi this bag is totes worth it. And I didn’t even address the prescription meds decorating it. How completely out-of-the-box! No really, it’s truly, truly outrageous. Good job Olsens, I dub thee scumbags.
CoraLlei: Beautiful vegan handbags! »
Everyone, I’m in love! Don’t worry, it’s not with a person—my emotional wall is still intact. I’m in love with these super-lovable vegan purses from CoraLlei! From Irish designer Lorna Burton, these bags aren’t just beautiful, they are also environmentally friendly:
Conscious of the environmental and social impact of her designs, Lorna Burton’s CoraLlei collection places paramount importance on ethics and sustainability. She uses only sustainable fabrics, packaging, textiles and manufacturing techniques where possible.
Ranging from €220 to €390, I won’t be owning one of these anytime soon (dang U.S. dollar!), but it’s nice to dream. Which is your favorite? Tell me!
John Bartlett’s vegan menswear is so hot right now »
BlackBook’s Nell Alk has a feature on John Bartlett’s spring 2013 line, which he showed at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, you guys are you in love yet? OK, how about this: The clothes are all linen, vegan, sustainable, and totally gorgeous. Love!
We’ve talked about him before, but man, you should read this article, Bartlett is a good dude. Joshua Katcher loves him, Jeff Nesmith loves him, Vaute Couture collectively loves him, and (most importantly), Megan Rascal loves him. Why?
As he told BlackBook, “Everything I’ve learned—about how we use animals for clothing, entertainment, food—I would like not to do.” And what about the rest of his animal-product-using industry? “Being in the fashion industry, [avoiding animal-derived materials is] never a big consideration. I think it’s going to change. It’s changing.”
Here’s hoping. Get over to BlackBook to read the article and see photos of Bartlett’s entire SS13 line, which is pretty delightful. That pink suit! The shorts! The ties! Men’s vegan clothing is catching up to women’s and I couldn’t be happier. You guys in like five years we are all going to look so good.
[Photo by Dan Lecca via BlackBook]
Unstitched Utilities: Vegan shoes for ladies and dudes! »
Hello, Turn Down Chukka QT
The New York Times’ International Herald Tribune did a little feature on Unstitched Utilities, a vegan shoe company that uses Tyvek to make sustainable, theoretically recyclable shoes. And they are kinda hot, you guys.
The totally vegan Hang Up Slip On, in a sunshiny yellow
What I particularly love is that not only are Unstitched Utilities shoes totally vegan and eco-friendly, they are waterproof. This means you can pop out of the house in your cheery yellow slip-ons, get caught in a freak rainstorm, and still have happy, dry feet! Because as much as I love a rainboot, I don’t always want to commit to full-on wellingtons. These are casual and charming and just weird-looking enough. And the men’s shoes are absolutely great, vegan dudes.
Read more about Unstitched Utilities at their site. Wearing stylish, eco-friendly vegan shoes increases your sexual attractiveness by 20 percent, guaranteed.
John Barlett has cute shirts for Farm Sanctuary! »
Lookie what I saw on fb! John Bartlett has teamed up with Farm Sanctuary to create a limited edition “Ambassador Collection.” And I want! If you didn’t know, that’s our fave vegan fashion plate Leanne of Vaute Couture in that pic. Man! Leanne is so lucky! She gets to meet pigs! I NEVER get to meet pigs! My life is the worst.
The notes on the pig shirt say that’s Eric…is that THIS ERIC? He got so big!
At $40, the tees are not cheap. But 10% of the proceeds is going to Farm Sanctuary. I think the chicken one is my fave just for the sexual harassment I would invite. And I’d have to say, “actually it’s HEN not a ROOSTER, dummies!”
Cute Neuaura heels at Compassion Couture! »
These are the hotness! They’re the Mulberry from Neuaura and apparently they are exclusive to our friends Compassion Couture. I’m totally in love with black velvet. It’s just the blackest black, right? So much blacker than other materials that pretend to be black. What’s that about? It’s prob some science stuff. That Science, always telling me the secrets of the universe. Yup, Science can’t keep a goddamn secret.
Cat-toure: buy kitty clothes from one badass cat »
Guys, if you didn’t know, I got a new job. Yes, that’s why I haven’t been as prolific lately. But I still love you! So I find you great things like Cat-toure! There’s this funny guy Jeff at my work and my intern BFF was like, “you know he has a cat clothing line, right?” And I was like, “hell no I did not but I’m so ready to make him internet famous!” Which is the natural outcome of all Vegansaurus posts.
Cat-toure is kind of like American Apparel for your kitty pals. It’s some cute-ass stuff. I love the hoodies like whoa. But my favorite part is the model! Look at this bruiser:
Holy crap, let’s cuddle already! I had to ask Jeff all about her. This tough guy is named Liley! Jeff and his wife rescued her when she was one year old. He says she weighed less than four pounds and “was pretty much bald and had mad shit wrong with her.” Now she’s happy and healthy! She’s a Devon Rex and purportedly “mad friendly and mad chill.” She sleeps on Jeff’s wife’s head every night and can do paw (that Devon Rex link says they hella great at tricks). So cute! My Mitsy can sit for treats but if I tried to teach her paw, she’d be like “LOLZ you are hilar. BRB I just saw some dust move!”
Like I always say when we discuss cat clothes, if your kitty don’t like clothes, don’t make her wear clothes. If she don’t care, no harm no foul. Though I think anybody might want to get Cat-toure’s super cute kitty robe for the post-bath routine. I don’t bathe Mitsy too often but sometimes you just gotta. I’m talking pee. Shit just got real.