Alex and Kev are bringing a double whammy of ethical independent business to the lanes of our lil ol' town, with a vegan-friendly food and product cooperative and a dairy-free dessert diner: Alex tells us all!
What brought you to Colchester? What is your background?
- Myself and hubby Kev moved to Colchester 6 and a half years ago from Brentwood. We liked the town, its culture and diversity and felt we and our 4 children would have a better life here. Kev got cancer within a year of moving here and we have spent the last 6 years dealing with that (twice) whilst trying to survive financially and mentally. (He is in remission now). He is a graphic designer and I have had to put my hand to whatever need be to help pay the bills - childminder, cleaner, ironing service, accounts, office manager, tree surgeon and artist to name but a few!
Why did you decide to start an independent business in Colchester?
- I went vegan last year after studying mindfulness and neuroscience and then my hubby soon followed. All of my children are veggie and they have struggled so much when out when tempted by the likes of Kasper’s and Starbucks for milkshakes, frappes, ice creams, etc. We started by running VGang on facebook as a non profit info and support page. We also organise events and raise money for charities as we felt compelled to spread the word and help our community. Kev's dream was to open a dairy-free dessert diner and I wanted to start an ethical vegan cooperative style shop, so when we stumbled upon a shop to rent in Eld Lane we just jumped in and decided to give it a go!
Tell us some more about your business and your vision for your company.
- The Ethical Emporium will be a shop for local and independent vegan-friendly businesses to sell their products by renting shelf space so we are like a cooperative in that we are all contributing to keep the shop open and the businesses receive 100% of the profits of their products. Renting shops and even renting pitches at fairs and events can be extortionate for a small business (hence why many close and towns are saturated with chain shops and big multinational franchises) My vision is for Colchester to have its first Vegan Supermarket where all products are SFV ethical and affordable and will help the community by making it viable to shop local again.
- Shakers Dairy Free is aimed at the future generation and educating them to make more ethical and healthier decisions when choosing things like milkshakes and ice creams. With veganism on the rise and the dairy industry now being exposed for its cruel practices, along with evidence as to the health issues in consuming dairy we decided it was time to make a stand and offer alternative options in the form of a dairy-free American style dessert diner. Our vision is for people to have the choice to consume a more ethical and cruelty free alternative without being over charged for the privilege! Of the few big chain shops that offer dairy alternatives they also charge extra and often for less as they are unable to offer the normal extras like whipped cream, etc.
Where’s your favourite place to eat/drink in the town right now?
- Not that we have much of a chance to eat/drink out with 4 kids and running our businesses but we do like No.9 Queen Street, next to Queen Street Brewhouse, run by Good Souls Bakery and Garden Of Vegan Streetfood.
Shakers opens 10am on Saturday, June 16th with a launch party featuring rockabilly music and lots of treats! All The Ethical Emporium/Shakers Dairy Free details are in our directory and watch this space for an exclusive Colchester Life cardholder offer coming soon!