Vegan start-ups are having a heyday. With big names like Bill Gates investing in vegan brands the future of all things vegan looks bright. Our recent visit to Berlin during January Ethical Fashion Show amazed us with the veganism taking over the city by storm. From food, fashion, tours, supermarkets, bars, coffee shops and beauty – everything has been veganized in Berlin.
While looking up for vegan businesses in Berlin we discovered Vegan Beauty Basket (VBB) - a vegan version of beauty subscription box. While the concept of beauty subscription box is not unique, in fact ever since the launch of Birchbox in 2010 the market has been flooded with beauty boxes, but there are very few 'vegan' boxes, especially in Europe.
We were intrigued by this vegan start-up and decided to meet the brain behind VBB - Ina Doncheva.
Considerate, consistent and ambitious these three words define the gorgeous Ina Doncheva. Hailing from a small city in Bulgaria called Varna, located on the black sea coast in Eastern Europe, Ina moved to Germany at the age of 15 and soon turned vegetarian due to ethical reasons.
After studying Design from the University of Trier, she moved to Berlin where her vegan calling came. She was shocked to see the gruesome treatment of animals in the dairy industry and immediately made the vegan switch, which she calls as the "best decision of her life". Prior to Vegan Beauty Basket, Ina was a self-employed graphic designer (no wonder her social media pages and branding is always on point and catchy).
To douse our curosity, learn more about her venture and the vegan beauty industry we met Ina over dinner at this awesome vegan restaurant in Berlin - The Bowl (a visit to this place is absolutely recommended).
On Her Vegan Transition and Challenges
"I always tried to incorporate cruelty-free ethics into my lifestyle and moving onto veganism was not difficult at all. When you know exactly why you want to be vegan you simply don’t stray from the lifestyle."
On The Hardest Part Of Being Vegan
"Living by your values can never be hard. However when I make efforts and raise awareness among other people for a cruelty-free lifestyle with all my heart and dedication yet it doesn't always lead to change of perspective - that's the hardest part for me."
What led to the idea of beauty box business
"My partner Georgi and I started Vegan Beauty Basket almost 7 months ago. I had always been passionate about cruelty-free and vegan beauty. However, finding good vegan products especially the new ones wasn't always easy. Although I could still find vegan options at most local drug stores, the problem was I would always find the same brands and nearly the same products. It was not enough for me. I like to get my hands on the latest in skincare and makeup and discover new products. This need translated into a business idea and VBB was born. Beauty box is indeed a wonderful discovery - it's a great way to get to know and share new exciting brands coming from around the world.
After moving to Berlin, I started visiting several local markets and got to know small businesses offering vegan and cruelty-free cosmetics, I became more curious about small local businesses as well as small brands outside of Germany and realized that through VBB I can offer the most amazing products to women like me, which otherwise may not be accessible to them. So we launched VBB and deliver about 5-6 new products, ranging from unique cosmetics to luxurious skincare, every month to our subscribers. We are quite thrilled from the response we have received so far and our customers are loving the products they receive in their little box of treasure each month."
On Challenges Of Starting A Business
"Since we relied on the experience we both gained so far we did not really have to face any challenges. It has been a great journey for us so far. When you love what you are doing, there are no challenges only great learning experiences.
I found my happiness through Vegan Beauty Basket, because for me being vegan is more than just a diet - it is a lifestyle, a commitment towards compassion towards all species, which is very important and one of the main reasons why I started my business - bring cruelty-free change in every woman's beauty cabinet."
On How VBB Stands Out From Other Beauty Boxes
"VBB is unique because it offers subscribers the choice of personalizing up to two products, which no other beauty box does. We offer a good mix of local and international products and our USP is we mainly support small businesses, producing small batches by hand. Not only are these products simple and effective, they are also high quality and come from a source we can trust. We have worked with quality brands from across the Europe, and a few outside, including Little Ondine, White Rabbit Skincare, Inner Soul Organics (UK), Hurraw! Balm (USA), Rivelles (Austria), Pure Skin Food (Austria), Eskay Essentials and CremeKampagne (Germany)."
How She Starts Her Day & Her Beauty Breakfast
"I believe good skincare should start from the moment you wake up until the end of the day. In fact beginning the day early and with a good skincare routine has improved the look and feel of my skin dramatically. My perfect morning always begins with a nice cup of tea, followed by a healthy breakfast that mostly comprises of - a slice of toasted wholegrain bread with smashed avocados, sun dried tomatoes and olives on the side. On weekends I love to go to Café Morgenrot, a quaint cafe offering delicious vegan brunch from Friday to Sunday."
How She Unwinds After A Long Day
"I love sketching and I this it is the best way to relax and de-stress. I also love playing with my cat Boo and going for a walk with him. When the weather permits, riding my bicycle alongside the Spree River in Treptower Park is always a good option too."
Her Skincare Routine
"A little effort every day can get the most out of your skincare. I am still trying a lot of products in order to find my perfect skincare routine. I start my skincare routine with a cleansing foam, since a deep cleanse is always very important, followed by facial toner, facial oil and eye crème. Most important of all steps is the protection; our skin needs protecting from the sun’s harmful rays and this is why using the right SPF moisturizer is a must for me.
Here's what I use as part of my morning skincare routine:
Cleansing Foam by Love Me Green
Moisturing Toner by Pure Skin Food
Facial Oil by CremeKampagne
Lipbalm by Hurraw!Balm
And my evening skincare routine comprises of:
Cleansing Foam by Love Me Green
Konjac Sponge by The Konjac Sponge Co
Moisturing Toner by Pure Skin Food
Eyecream by Rivelles
Hand & Foot Cream by i+m Naturkosmetik
Lipbalm by Hurraw!Balm
Aromatherapy Roll On by CremeKampagne"
Her Favourite Makeup Brands (Good Vegan Makeup Is Hard To Find)
"I usually do not wear much makeup, but I have few favorites. I am currently wearing AROMI "Red Dahlia" Matte Liquid Lipstick (same color as in the picture) and I love it! I also like PHB's vegan lipsticks. Finding a good mascara without harsh chemicals and with a vegan formula can be challenging and I swear by PHB Black Mascara, which is the best vegan mascara ever (I found this after trying quite a lot of them).
One fashion necessity she can’t live without
"My bag, I feel naked without a bag."
Guilty fashion pleasure?
"Bags & Eyeglass Frames"
What’s in your handbag?
"At least 3 different lipbalms (by Amazingy, Hurraw!Balm, CremeKampagne), lipsticks (PHB Beauty and Aromi) my deocreme (Eskay Essentials), hand sanitizer, hand cream, notebook, eyeglass, headphones, purse."
Her Favourite Vegan Fashion Brands
"I mostly shop online and my favorite places to shop for vegan fashion are Le Shop Vegan, Matt & Nat, Vaute Couture, Umasan,Avesu, Vegetarian Shoes, Ace & Tate, Monki and Asos (last two not 100% vegan but offer plenty options)."
Best Vegan Meal She Had
"At Soy Berlin - a vegan Vietnamese restaurant. My favourite vegan meal there is called 'My Quang', I love it. I could eat Vietnamese food everyday."
On Most Vegan Friendly City She Visited
"I have been to many cities including London, New York, Paris, Sydney, Amsterdam, but in my opinion Berlin is
the most vegan friendly city at all (and no I am not biased)."
Her Favourite Place In The World
"Kangoroo Island in Australia, I loved the remarkable flora and fauna."
"We are striving to achieve the best and that´s why we are constantly working on new ideas. We would love to get work with small ethical and vegan friendly beauty brands from Australia and the USA. I am also very interested in small brands, coming from Eastern Europe and would love to introduce them to our customers. There is definitely much more to come........."
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