„Ananas” – the first Warsaw’s shop selling vegan shoes
Those who have given up animal products (or are trying to limit them) are certainly familiar with the following argument: “Not eating meat/dairy products does not change anything because you still wear leather shoes on a daily basis. This is hypocrisy”. Well, the people using this type of reasoning probably have not heard of vegan shoes, completely free of animal byproducts. Such accessories are becoming increasingly popular nowadays. Not only among vegans.
Until very recently, it was quite difficult to find a place dedicated to selling exclusively vegan shoes. But then the situation started changing. Warsaw’s first vegan shoe store was opened in March 2017 and since then it has already attracted many visitors, both from Poland and abroad. The shop’s name is Ananas (Polish word for pineapple) and is located at Dąbrowskiego 40, close to Racławicka Metro Station.
It is a small business run only by one girl – Kaja, with some help from her boyfriend Michał. Also, the store is supervised by a cute female dog called Stefa – the youngest of a-not-so-small team of Kaja and Michał’s four-legged friends. Kaja has a good professional experience in commerce, but also artistic make-up and design – she is therefore a creative soul. Michał is studying for a degree in sociology; he is also a photography lover and the author of the photos published at the company’s website.
I have had a chance to interview the founders of Ananas and ask them a few questions about their work. Here is what I have found out!
A few facts about the store (and not only!)
– Both Kaja and Michał are of course vegans. In Kaja’s family, there has been a long tradition of going vegetarian or vegan: her mom does not eat animal products, nor do her grandparents (in their case, it is also a question of religious rules as they belong to Brahma Kumaris). Being a vegan herself, Kaja was of course aware that the vegan movement in Poland was growing and that there was a big interest in vegan shoes as well. That is how she came up with the idea of opening a shop specializing in accessories free of animal products.
What are their shoes made of?
– Shoes available in „Ananas” are made of many different types of material, such as cork, microfiber, recycled plastic bottles or cotton, and, perhaps the most interesting, piñatex, or pineapple leaves fibre (hence the name of the shop). In their summer collection, you can find sandals, espadrilles, wedges and others. The shoes are made in Portugal and Spain. Available brands are Nae, Slowers and Vesica Piscis. Currently, Kaja is looking for more business contacts to expand the offer. She is preparing an autumn-winter collection and planning to add some elegant occasion shoes to the offer.
– Apart from shoes, Ananas sells denim jackets. They are bought in second-hand shops and then manually embroidered by Kaja’s mum. You can also purchase bags, belts and accessories for dogs – all of them 100% vegan, of course!
– Kaja and Michał obviously love animals and natural environment. They have adopted a big number of shelter animals (they are proud owners of 3 dogs and 3 cats). The couple is also involved in various initiatives supporting the Białowieża Forest.
Why is Ananas worth visiting?
– The first reason is of course empathy for animals. Ananas’ founders have successfully proven that shoes do not need to be made of animal products and, at the same time, they can be very comfortable and beautiful!
– Another reason is also empathy… this time for humans! Products of NAE, Vesica Piscis and Slowers are all fair trade. People working at all production levels (including harvesting the pineapples) receive a fair pay and they work in a safe and healthy environment.
– Yet another reason – respect for our natural environment. Vegan shoes are often made of recycled materials. Items, which would otherwise become trash polluting our planet, receive a second life. By buying them – we help minimize the amount of waste contaminating natural environment.
– Their prices are approachable. Same or lower than in well-known retail brand stores.
– When shopping at Ananas, instead of financing an already rich company, you are supporting the work of an amazing young person who puts a lot of passion, time, effort and resources into her socially and environmentally responsible business.
– Shopping at Ananas is a pleasant alternative to loud and crowded shopping centres, which I personally hate. Ananas is located in a quiet, green part of Warsaw, where you can take an enjoyable stroll. When shopping, you can have a nice conversation with Kaja and Michał (and Stefa!). It is a much more relaxing and personal experience than rushing through a shopping centre. At the same time, you can find out a lot about veganism and other initiatives for animals and environment.
– Ananas’ Facebook website: https://pl-pl.facebook.com/ananas.warsaw/
– A TEDx talk by Carmen Hijosa, inventor of Piñatex: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cUkv4VWIum0
– A BBC article on the benefits of becoming a vegetarian: http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20160926-what-would-happen-if-the-world-suddenly-went-vegetarian