On this week’s MABBH Spotlight we talk with Laura Prim: the talented co-founder and designer behind the Barcelona based vegan clothing brand Oscar Prim. We chatted creating your own brand, how being vegan influenced her career and words of wisdom to other entrepreneurs trying to pave their own way in fashion. Discover her story and read more on how she made a successful brand all while keeping the principles of veganism within her company’s ethos.
*Edit: This interview was translated from Spanish to English, being that Laura’s native language is Spanish.
1. Hey Laura, tell us a little about yourself!
I define myself as a lover of nature and open spaces. I love being surrounded by the people I love most, but I also have a great need to have my own space and to feel free. I find pleasure in the little things of life. Since I was young I always had a strong bond with animals and nature, and I was always excited to draw. I was a lover of fashion, but fashion was linked to some very ethical pillars I didn’t agree with. Sometimes I get very angry with the absurdity of humans and how hypocritical they can be with their actions.
2. What was the catalyst to make you go vegan?
They are living beings who can’t speak for themselves, so someone has to stand up for them. I wish I could talk to them and explain that we have no right to decide weather they should live or die. Every living being is deserving of life and yes, there are many misfortunes in the world but this one is luckily one that we can solve in our day to day actions.
3. How long have you been vegan for, and what has your experience been like adapting to our society?
It was 13 years ago one day when I was watching a video in class about animals. I was shown horrifically terrible images of a slaughterhouse and the next morning at home I announced that I was not going to eat anything from animals ever again. That’s how it started- I made a radical change.
After a year I got sick because I did not take as much vitamin B12 as recommended, and my nutrients were not up to par. I was 20 years old and there was not all the information that there is now available. People did not know the details about veganism and what is appropriate diet wise and I felt very misunderstood and not respected with my personal choices. I went to several nutritionists who told me if I didn’t start eating meat again I would collapse. They made me diets that I continued until I decided to start researching on my own and I became vegetarian. During this time, I still felt that something was not right. I did not feel good inside, and two years ago I decided to look into egg and dairy consumption and if that could be a possible problem.
When I started to inform myself, the next day again I decided to become vegan. I've been vegan for two years and I feel better than ever. I have a strong and powerful internal connection that nobody or anything can now change and obviously I'm feeling better than ever. Sometimes it's a very difficult road, not because of what they tell me, but since I'm also an animal activist from many years ago. Once you have the reality in front of you on what is actually going on and you have seen how things happen and internalize that, nobody can persuade you otherwise. On the other hand I am very happy, my mother has even made a change in her life and is now vegetarian. My friends are increasingly making the connection too and are changing their habits little by little. Once they shake the desensitization of being so far removed from what is actually going on- it clicks for them as well.
4. What is the story behind creating your brand Oscar Prim? How did you start?
Oscar prim was born from two people connected through the world of fashion. Oscar Ruiz (my partner) and I created brought it to life. Oscar is a social educator, and since childhood he was linked to fashion by a textile company that his parents and I had studied art in. I have done different degrees and masters related to illustration and design. One year we went to Thailand one month and there, with a lot of time, disconnection and personal work, we decided that when we returned to Barcelona we would start our brand. After two years of internalizing the project it came to light.
5. Why did you feel it was important to have your brand Peta approved, sustainable and vegan?
It truly is the pillar of our brand. From the start to now, creating a brand without animal products was the main focus. The production was made by a local family, sustainable and slow fashion without the endless seasons of clothing on the market these days. These were our pillars because the textile industry is one of the most destructive, and we want to show to the world that things can be done well and that nothing has to suffer and be affected by the textile sector or manufacturing of our garments.
6. What is the hardest and most rewarding part of having your own brand?
The most difficult is to just start completely from scratch and to make a name for yourself where competition is there. Make sure you helo others and collaborate, because people remember that when starting out. In some of our collections we collaborate with other artisans and like to mix techniques and the equipment we use to give visibility to the small ateliers, whose processes have been lost with time. Also being such a small team, sometimes it makes it difficult to accomplish everything that needs to get done but patience and positivism are always the key. The most rewarding thing is that people increasingly value slow fashion, sustainability…and to think we’ve been doing it this way this whole time! That is our purpose- when people start to get it. We’re trying to create a better world in the process!
7. As a designer, you study and come across many fashion brands. What would be some words of wisdom you wish you heard when starting, for anyone wanting to create their own fashion brand?
The truth is that years ago when I started in the world of design and illustration I would have liked to have been shown all the truth behind it. It would have been amazing to have been provided the information that we know now. When you go to classes, they teach you about great designers, styles, trends- but not the dark side about how difficult making it in this business can be.
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8. What have been any career highlights you’ve experienced since starting Oscar Prim?
One of the best moments was when Sergio trusted our brand and carried us in his store. We truly believe that it would not have been possible without him.
9. If you were to influence someone to go vegan, where do you normally start the conversation?
More than starting the conversation in some way, it mostly depends on if the person is receptive to hearing about it in the first place. When I do talk about it, I address more towards the value of animal life and sustainability.
10. Do you have any projects in the works? What’s next for the brand?
In the future we want each and every one of our pieces to be made from recycled materials. We have started but are in the process of converting totally. Our next collection is called “Sensitivity”. It was born from a need to return to our roots, linked closely with women, being vulnerable. We are born and are then hardened by stress, work and the challenges of life and often forget to express our sensitive nature. The designs are full of nostalgia and peace.