Thank you for visiting The Cruelty Free Shop online!
The Cruelty Free Shop was founded in January 2001 by Jess Bailey and we've been serving the vegan community in Australia ever since. We supply Australia's widest range of vegan food and products and deliver Australia-wide.
This is an article that was published in Animal Liberation's Release Magazine in September 2012 that gives some background information about the Cruelty Free Shop.
Profile of a vegan business owner
Jess Bailey, The Cruelty Free Shop
In 2000 I became a vegan; this was a defining point in my life, a time when I finally felt I knew who I was and what was important to me. My veganism was a progressive thing; I started as the usual unthinking omnivore and slowly made changes to my diet and lifestyle as I became more aware of animal rights issues. I met some people from Animal Liberation NSW at a stall, attended one of their meetings and read a lot of their literature. I’m so grateful that Animal Liberation existed at that point as without them I may never have made the connection and changed my life. Being vegan is now a part of who I am and knowing that I don’t contribute to the suffering of animals sets my mind at ease.
I am an ethical vegan, I chose to avoid animal derived products as I don’t believe that we have the right to enslave, torture or kill animals for our benefit. There is no animal-derived product that we can’t do without. Liking the taste of something is not a good enough justification for taking a life and it continues to amaze me when otherwise kind, caring people justify eating meat by saying “oh but I love the taste of it!” - You can be sure that the animal loved their life way more than you loved that meal! To use or consume an animal-derived product is to support cruelty – there’s no avoiding it.
The suffering I’ve seen, particularly in the meat and dairy industries, are images I’ll never be able to forget and they confirm my view that veganism is the only morally acceptable way to live. The fact that being vegan is better for the environment and for your health, are wonderful added bonuses that make veganism a win-win-win life choice.
In the early days of being a vegan I found it difficult to find the products I wanted, many of them were available but it meant traipsing around to multiple shops, and some simply weren’t available in Australia. I found shopping a frustrating and time consuming experience. Around that time I met some people who said they had been vegan but stopped because it was too hard. And so I found my dual mission: to make it easy for people to become vegan, and to make it easy for people to stay vegan.
Opening an online shop seemed to me to be a practical way to reach both these goals while also (selfishly) meaning I could get all the goodies I wanted as well. The Cruelty Free Shop online started off very small, with a $500 of stock in a cupboard and no marketing to speak of. As things do in the vegan community, word spread and bit by bit the business started to grow. It continued to grow at a steady rate even through the GFC when all the mainstream retailers were complaining about losses. Having spoken to many other ethical business owners, a common theme emerges: While mainstream businesses have suffered, the ethical businesses continue to grow unabated. This suggests to me that the general population is changing its purchasing patterns and that more people are considering the ethics of their purchases.
This year The Cruelty Free Shop finally grew too big for our house and we had a choice; to move to a warehouse or open a shopfront. I agonised over this for ages as the expense of opening a shop was terrifying. With the support of my partner, Stuart, and my son, Robbie, and with the goal of reaching more existing and potential vegans, I made the decision to open a shopfront in the inner Sydney suburb of Glebe. The amount of preparation required was all consuming; from choosing a non-toxic paint to setting up a point of sale system, to sourcing new stock and so much more. It was quite an adventure and a very steep learning curve.
I didn’t really know what the response would be to the shop but our opening day was a revelation; when I opened the doors on that first Saturday and saw a queue of people waiting outside I knew we’d done the right thing. Ever since then the flow of people coming through the shop has been steady and the support from the vegan and local communities has been fantastic. We now have a team of 7 staff (all vegan!) who work both in the shop and out the back processing the online orders. We’ve started to get to know our regulars and are feeling a real sense of community. Many vegans find it difficult to live in a non-vegan world but when they come in to the Cruelty Free Shop they can feel safe among people who understand them. It’s an environment where we all support each other and don’t have to defend our beliefs, a place where vegan is the norm. Oh, to live in a world like that!
While the Glebe shop gets established, our online store www.crueltyfreeshop.com.au continues to thrive and allows us to send vegan products to people all over Australia. We continue to increase our range of vegan food and products (over 1000 products now!) and have just returned from a trip to New York where we met with some vegan producers and designers who are keen to work with us to bring more vegan options to the Australian market such as vegan shoes, belts, wallets and handbags. We have lots of plans to expand our services to the vegan community including expansion of the shop to make space for a vegan shoe shop, pie warmers, an ice cream bar, cafe, meeting place.... the possibilities are endless!
Like us on Facebook (www.facebook.com/CrueltyFreeShop) to follow our progress or come on in to the shop and say hi - we’d love to see you!
Jess Bailey has been vegan since 2000 and has been running The Cruelty Free Shop (www.crueltyfreeshop.com.au) since founding it in January 2001. She is also the founder of Sydney’s first all vegan festival The Cruelty Free Festival (www.crueltyfreefestival.org.au) and was a board member of Animal Liberation until recently. You can contact her on firstname.lastname@example.org.