In this week’s MABBH Spotlight we talk with actress, public speaker, previous contestant on UK’s Big Brother, and vegan activist- Ksenia Lavrentieva. We dive deep into her passion for new technology in the sustainable fashion space as well as biofabrication, vegan brands she’s been loving and debuting her new website: The Bio Fashion Vible. Read on to take a peak inside her beautiful mind and world.
1. Hi Kay, tell us a little about yourself!
I’m a creative dreamer out of classic fairy tales where love is all you need and kindness is king. I wear my heart on both sleeves. I am a social butterfly with a message. A thumerlina pocket rocket full of life energy on a mission to make a difference before I leave this earthly plane. - there you go - how about that for a self description. ;-)
Others have said: "Kay may stand against everything that the fashion industry expects, being an eco diversity model but this is what makes her controversially different. But she is no outsider and ultimately her form of activism will soon make her fashions’ new best friend. Leading the way by example into the future of textiles and animal free products. Along with her infectious personality, relating to the public in her own unique way; bringing beauty, compassion and ethics. It is time to pull fashions’ skeletons out the closet and replace them with cruelty free transparency."
2. You most notably appeared on Big Brother UK and have starred in multiple TV series, what have you learned about yourself while being in front of the camera? Biggest challenges?
Going from a professional, closed, scripted set to reality of course is a huge leap and cannot be compared. In all truth, I actually find reality really freeing but equally an anxious space. Ideally I would like to meet in the middle and have my own show that will be a mix of scripted reality - one that is educational, informative and full of glamour, style and love.
The biggest challenge was to be vulnerable and at the hands of the producers rather than hiding behind the editors vision, as you would on a professional film set. I’m a bit of a control freak and a clinical compulsive when it comes to my work, so I can tell you that Big Brother was a one off experience - to get my cause out main stream (self sacrifice - ahhahahaa).
I like to be thorough in my work and for everything that I do to have significance and meaning; creating a positive impact to better society on many levels.
3. As an actress and signed model, how do you practice self care and maintain a positive self image in today's society?
By eating plant based cakesss!! Ok, so I am the biggest foodie and as long as it’s vegan nothing is OFF the menu. As I’m classified as a ‘CURVE’ model, I don’t have to stress to stay super skinny so that's a bonus. I’ve even stopped working out everyday recently, but I think I’m keeping the weight off because eating plant based just naturally does that and I am super active generally.
My main maintenance I would say is my investment in my face - I’m obsessed with organic, cruelty-free makeup and skincare and have been for the past 10 years! I think the secret to the youthful glow is honesty that! I don't use any conventional brands because they are just full of crap that only ages the skin long term and I also use SPF when ever I am prone to sun exposure. My favorite is Alteya Organics - Bio Damascena Rose Otto Face Sunscreen with SPF 25 sheer tint. It gives you full spectrum coverage without the pasty white finish (just plant based anti-aging skin food).
My secret weapon is the incredible cosmetic expert in tradition Chinese medicine and human bioscience, (the one and only John Tsagaris), who is a state of the art facial acupuncturist offering a natural alternative to anti-aging treatments such as fillers and botox, using state of the art technology.
4. You have brought so much positive attention to the vegan movement, what made you make the switch? Was there a specific turning point or event?
A very close friend of mine went vegan first, and she sent me a life changing video to watch. That video was “Gary Yourofsky - The Most Important Speech You Will Ever Hear” and that was my turning point. I then watched "What The Health” and “Cowspiracy” on Netflix, which completely sealed the deal.
I learned about what happens to the animals in graphic detail and I no longer wished to continue fueling such a cruel industry that not only kills these intelligent, sentient beings in the most barbaric ways but also wreaks havoc on my health and well being in the process of consuming them. I realized that by discontinuing my consumption of animal products I would not only be saving the lives of animals but bettering my health to live longer at my most optimal, and help the environment in the process as the agriculture industry brings great devastation to all living things including our planet. Above all, as with any business practice that I participate in as a consumer, I now long for transparency and I no longer wish to support any industry that fuels itself on making profit out of abusing and killing innocent victims that feel love, fear and suffering just like us.
5. Since going vegan, what has been the biggest differences you've noticed in your life?
It’s my first year of being vegan actually this month (March). My life, my health (physical & mental), my perspective, my thinking, my knowledge, my views and even my career have all undergone a 360° rewiring process. I have never looked back. I’m still learning as I go, but for sure I can tell you I feel more inner peace and a real sense of purpose. I never thought this would be my career being a public speaker on behalf of this incredible movement.
Even though at times it can get very emotionally draining knowing what goes on behind the closed doors of the slaughter houses/battery farms/dairy farms/fur farms/bear bile farms/reptile farms/fish farms/“free range” farms/laboratories/aquariums/circuses/zoos/puppy mills (farms), that haunt my soul; it’s still worth fighting for. I do it just to add my drop in the ocean amongst the others who are fighting the good fight, for every little bit makes the whole.
6. You recently launched your website The Bio Fashion Vible which talks about the importance of ethical leather alternatives and sustainable materials in the fashion world. Can you tell us more about your mission and why this is such an important topic for today's world?
I’m targeting the fashion industry predominantly because it is a trillion dollar industry and it effects us on all levels having a huge social impact on the world. It currently promotes cruelty and allows for animal abuse, making it acceptable.
If I can help shift the perception and denormalize the use of animals in fashion and shine the light on how abnormal and inhumane it actually is; degrading sentient life into textiles for the sake of human vanity - it could just move mountains.
If fashion goes cruelty free this will change the mass consciousness of the manufactures, the designers and the consumers, allowing them to view animals from a different stand point and not just mere resources; steering us towards conscious living in general and empowering us with knowledge and truth of how our clothes are made. This will let us stop fueling these devilish industries that pray on the innocent. I wish to raise as much awareness as possible to speed up this shift towards a more technologically advanced and civilized future that benefits us all.
Creating The Bio Fashion Vible gives me an opportunity to alter the often negative perception of the vegan fashion cliché; to commercialize and maximize the audience to which it will appeal.
I am confident that once people appreciate that vegan fashion is innovation and truly is the new desired cool, they will be able to embrace it. You can still be an “ethical fashionista” and can, if you choose, to live your life in a glamorous/modern way. Our animals deserve to be treated with respect, and I vouch to give my all to ensure we reach this goal in a structured way toward a sustainably cruelty free world, one step at a time. ✌
7. Shopping sustainably and ethically can be hard sometimes for beginners, what would be your biggest tips for people to start?
I would say, please begin with shopping less via the main high street chains and fast fashion online retailers. (Unless they start coming up with sustainable/cruelty free options.) Please also start buying alternatives to animal skins, especially when it comes to leather. The high street chains just need that push and if the customers stop their business, these retailers will work harder on proving us with the ethical/cruelty-free/sustainable alternatives. They are more than capable with doing so and once they see sales decline they will soon step up their game. It is up to us as the consumers to push them in the right direction and it will be a win/win situation for us all.
I would also like to add that it is very important to buy less and buy well, even if you end up paying a little more, the clothing will last you longer so long term you will actually save money. These big high street chains see us as money bags - pumping out new styles monthly for us to buy that only end up on landfills and are made with the blood sweat and tears of the workers in poorer countries. Where some of which are exploited physically and mentally.
Start going to smaller chains and ethical boutiques if you, where you can still find cool stuff without the price tag, that has not scarified animals, workers or the environment to end up on your back.
Also a great way to check how ethical/sustainable a company is- by downloading an app called ‘Good On You’ - which tells you all the ratings for any high street/designer brands, so you can see if you wish to buy from them or not- to continue fueling their business practices.
I also want to add this - for anyone that is concerned with plastics or faux fur:
According to the "HIGG Material Sustainability Index" (an apparel and footwear industry self-assessment standard for assessing environmental and social sustainability throughout the supply chain), which scores textiles based on their environmental costs of production showed that synthetics have a less negative impact than other types of fabrics. This was also confirmed by the “Pulse of the Fashion" industry report which found that polyurethane (PU) leather has less than half the impact on the environment than animal-derived leather, because it does not have the livestock footprint. A similar comparison was made between polyester and wool. Just to reiterate: animal-derived leather and wool are twice as harmful to the environment as PU and polyester, which are plastics! The report also found on a whole that 3 of the 4 most environmentally damaging materials are animal-derived.
The annual global impact of animal leather is approximately 130 MT Co2e. This is the same amount of damaging emissions as those from 30 million passenger vehicles each year. The global average water footprint of raising cattle for leather is 17,093 liters of fresh water per kg of leather. It takes approximately 500,000 liters of water to manufacture a metric ton of wool. Five faux fur coats have significantly less impact on climate change than that of one mink fur coat. It takes at least 4 times more energy to produce a real fur coat than a faux fur coat. The making of one mink fur coat emits 7 times more CO2 than the making of one faux fur coat.
8. What are some of your favorite vegan/sustainable brands you'd like to shoutout?
Nak - The sexiest vegan shoes for the ethical & glamorous.
Mashu - state of the art vegan chic designer bags for the art deco minimalists.
Bag Affair - bags for the modern eco conscious business woman.
I am GoldRad - ethical vegan cool glam bags
Hampi Bags - for the quirky/cool/minimalist fashionista.
Altiir - the pineapple leather vegan biker jackets - rock chic at its finest.
S*Dress - pure class for all the sophisticated, classy ladies out there - seamless figure hugging silhouettes.
Woron Lingerie - feel sexy, beautiful and comfortable in these gorgeous minimalistic, luxurious designs made from trees.
A fuller list can be found via my website for all of my favorite brands.
9. Can you also tell us some vegan beauty finds in your makeup bag you can't live without?
Sure, my tops picks -
I also trust anything sold in Wholefoods, Content Beauty and Planet Organic.
10. Where do you see yourself within the vegan movement in 3-5 years?
1) Traveling the world advocating all things veganism, innovation and technology.
2) Starting an animal welfare political party. ;-)
3) Being an owner of a high end luxury fashion brand.
4) And, of course having my very own animal sanctuary…. you gotta aim high! ;-)
Follow Ksenia on Instagram and let us know who we should talk to next!