Interview Series #11: Kate Wolff of Evolve Accessories - AND A GIVEAWAY!

Before we get to the wonderful interview below, I have an announcement to the entire KMIV! community: 

I'm starting a Q&A page on the site! 

Each week, I will tackle one of YOUR questions about making the transition to a vegan diet and/or maintaining your vegan lifestyle. Questions can range from "Where do I get my protein?" to "How can I make something vegan the whole family will love?" to "I cheated on my vegan diet. What do I do now?" The sky's the limit!

If you have a question, send it on over to kissmyvegan@gmail.com, and I will choose one for each week to focus on. I'm excited about this, and I hope you are too!

Okay, and now for what we're really here for...

Kate Wolff wears many hats - art teacher, mommy, jewelry maker, vegan activist, animal advocate, and volunteer, to name a few. Today, my primary focus for Kate was to talk about her own vegan journey, her amazing jewelry company - Evolve Accessories - and the joys and challenges of raising a vegetarian child. What I received in return was immense. Kate is hands down one of the strongest women I've ever met - someone who, on a daily basis, impacts those around her to make compassionate choices, and a vegan mama who teaches her son awareness and love toward all living creatures.

Kate went vegan in 2004, and as her veganism strengthened, she was searching to find a way to produce something positive out of her volunteer work for animal rights and vegan advocacy, all while trying to support charities that were and continue to be meaningful to her (see below to learn which charity got her started on this creative journey). Enter Evolve Accessories. It is Kate's fervent hope that businesses will start to pay attention to the kind of suffering they are or might be inflicting on both humans and animals. For Kate, there is no moral compromise - her jewelry is entirely cruelty-free and made with the kind of love you'd wish every jewelry maker would devote to their own work.

A little bit about Evolve from Kate's website:

Evolve Accessories is about causing the least amount of harm as possible to both humans and animals. Everything made is 100% vegan. All of the beads are either fair trade beads, recycled beads, beads purchased from goodwill, or reused beads from my own collection. I do not purchase beads, charms, or armature craft wire if I do not know where they have come from. Any fiber or textile used is fair trade and vegan. Sometimes materials are found at goodwill, and if not, they are purchased online.

Kate is a jewelry maker people can trust to produce the most compassionate accessories around. She's a teacher who inspires her students to share their own compassion with the world, and she even brings that compassion home to her little boy with each lesson of love she teaches him. Kate is a testament to all of us out there working to create a more positive, loving, generous society, and I feel truly blessed to give you a glimpse into her personal journey. Enjoy!

Kiss Me, I'm Vegan: What was the turning point in your life that led you to veganism? Was it one huge moment, or a collective group of small moments that changed you? 

Kate: I became a vegetarian in 2003 and went vegan a year later. I first decided to become vegetarian after I forced myself to watch videos of animals being slaughtered. I was so disturbed by them that I knew I had to make a decision - either I go into denial in order to continue to eat meat, or I be completely honest with myself and stop being part of a horrendous industry. It is easy to go through life with blinders on, and I didn't want to continue doing that. These animals do not have a voice of their own, and they need humans to fight for them.

KMIV: What have been the greatest rewards of your vegan lifestyle? What  have been the greatest challenges? 

Kate: I have to say the greatest reward has been knowing that I am living in a way where I am consciously trying to not harm anything. The world is such a chaotic place, and I like to think that I am not contributing to the pain that many animals and humans have to endure. I would like to think that if we humans were not "on top" of the food chain, another species would choose to not kill humans if it wasn't crucial. Every time a person sits down to eat a steak, they are not doing it out of necessity. They are doing it simply for the satisfaction of their palate. It's just so sad to me that a life has to end, just so someone can have a good meal.

The greatest challenge has been not getting defensive when others criticize me for being a vegan. I used to get quite emotional and argumentative, but I now realize that only pushes people away more. I also no longer try to make jokes about being vegan in order for people to feel more comfortable with my decision.

KMIV: When did you begin jewelry making, and how did that lead you to creating Evolve Accessories?

Kate: I am an art teacher, and I help out at my school with a charity club called charity: water. I thought we could raise money if we made necklaces that said "charity: water" on them and sell them at school events. One of the students in the club said she had been making jewelry for years and that she could teach us how to make them. So I got really into making jewelry, and I decided to go off on my own and create my own fair trade vegan line. I also know that I like showing off the fact that I am a vegan, and I thought more people out there would want the world to know they are as well. 

KMIV: What a beautiful idea for the vegans out there! Alright, next question - what is the easiest part of raising your son vegetarian? The hardest?

Kate: The easiest part of raising Shane vegetarian is knowing that I am teaching him what love and respect is really about. It's so hypocritical to teach your children to love animals and not hurt them when you then sit down and eat a chicken dinner. There is such an inconsistency there.

It's actually pretty easy to raise Shane vegetarian, because most children naturally love animals and do not want to see them in pain. I think that's why many parents lie to their children and don't tell them what a hamburger is really made of - because they suddenly realize how on earth are they going to explain to a child that they are okay with killing pigs, cows, lambs, or any other animal. To Shane, it makes more sense to not eat animals. He's quite vocal when he sees someone eating meat. When we go out to dinner and see someone eating fish, for example, he gets quite upset and almost flabbergasted that someone would actually choose to eat a dead fish.

The hardest part is when he goes to a party, and all of the other kids are eating things like hot dogs and hamburgers. He's normally fine and happy to tell them all where their food came from. However, there are times when you can see he feels a little left out. I just talk to him about it, and explain that some people do not see the wrong in harming animals. I want him to understand that just because one's society condones something, that does not make it okay. One must think for him or herself.

KMIV: If only every parent could have the courage you possess to share the truth with their children. Speaking of grown-ups, what advice would you give someone who is interested in veganism,  but afraid of taking the leap?
 

Kate: My advice to someone who is interested in veganism is to realize that there are so many amazing and delicious foods out there that are vegan! In fact, when I go out to dinner with  vegan friends, we actually get more excited about our food than when I'm with a meat-eater. This is because we are so excited to have found great food that did not involve harming any living being.

KMIV: Okay -  you're stuck on a deserted island with three vegan food items - what are they?
 

Kate: I would say avocados, vegan primal strips (or just seitan), and vegan brownies. :) 

Now, once I found out that Kate had a baby boy - three years old now - named Shane, I couldn't resist giving little Shane some questions of his own to answer. 

These questions included: 

Why do you like helping the animals?
What does the word vegan mean to you?
What do you think of mommy's jewelry?
What are the yummiest foods you eat?

After watching the video about twenty times over (he is just too cute NOT to keep watching!), I have to say - boy, is this little three year-old sharp! Which is all thanks to what I am sure is amazing parenting on Kate's part. Kate seems to have allowed Shane to make his own choices so far in life, but she grounds him with the truth about and compassion towards the animals people make into food. It is clear that both Shane and Kate are against any idea of eating animals, and it made me think about why, as children, we had to be convinced to eat them in the first place. As Kate mentioned above, children have endless reserves of compassion from birth, yet, as a society, we work to numb them of that compassion toward a very specific group of animals we call "food" - which include cows, chickens, turkeys, geese, ducks, goats, pigs, and even rabbits that are just as affectionate, just as cuddly, and just as loving as our feline and canine companions. I am proud to know a mama as dedicated and honest as Kate - she is part of a growing generation of young adults working to change the status quo of our world, and for this, she is a hero in my book.

And now for little Shane's interview:


I think you'll agree - this little three-year old is already shaping up to be a veggie superstar himself!

And since the title of this post included the word "GIVEAWAY", it would be silly to end this post without one:

Kate has graciously offered to give away two pieces of her beautiful jewelry to the KMIV community!

If you're interested - which I know you are! - please submit a 3-4 sentence answer to kissmyvegan@gmail.com in response to this question:

How would you describe your own vegan evolution?

(Don't you like that? I took the word "evolve" and placed it in the question... as in Evolve Accessories, Kate's company... Yeah, I know, I'm a dork.)

**THIS QUESTION IS OPEN TO VEGANS AND NON-VEGANS ALIKE!**

You don't have to be 100% vegan to answer this question, so please interpret it as it relates to you and your individual journey and evolution.

Just like last time, the winners of this giveaway will receive mention in one of my upcoming posts and one of Kate's beautiful pieces of jewelry!  The deadline for this contest is Monday, May 31st, so get cracking folks! 

Info about the two giveaway pieces: 

Kate's mauve charm necklace is made with 100% vegan soy silk, fair trade beads, armature wire, sterling silver, and pewter. The soy silk has been braided and hangs a bit past your chest. The armature wire has been shaped into a circle with three different charms hanging form it. There are some purple beads hanging, a pewter peace charm, and a sterling silver "vegan" charm.

Kate's copper vegan pride bracelet is made with copper armature wire, and fair trade beads. The copper wire has been shapes to say "vegan". To complete the bracelet, there are copper, gold, and yellows Czech fire-polished beads. 

Endless thanks to Kate Wolff for taking time out of her busy life of raising a cute veggie kid, being an art teacher, and making awesome jewelry, to do this interview. Thanks to Shane for being such a good little boy and sitting still for his own interview - two thumbs up, Shane! 

To learn more about Kate and her company, please visit www.evolveaccessories.com.

To learn more about one of Kate's favorite charities, charity:water, please visit: www.charitywater.org.

Comments

wendy said…
i would describe my vegan evolution as "ongoing." i still have much to learn about myself, how i feel about certain things, and how i will express those things to the outside world. i also have alot of recipes to try! great post and thanks for the giveaway!
Abigail S. Bean said…
As a vegan, I have had the opportunity to become part of a community of people that consistently helps and insipires me to evolve into someone who can do even more for the animals than I originally thought I could when I became an ethical vegan ten years ago. This evolution has not only improved my life, but also helped to turn my mom veg; the best part of the journey.
Angela said…
Ok, so I don't think anything gets cuter than that video. Adorable! Though I have read and heard about raising vegetarian children I have never met or seen a veggie kid in action. This gives me tremendous hope for establishing a vegetarian family one day. The video clearly shows that children have an innate desire to save animals from unnecessary harm and have a genuine enthusiasm for this compassionate lifestyle. Kate is an awesome role model for parents. And yes Shane, your mom just glows...
Lindsay said…
Thanks for such beautiful answers ladies! :)
Carol said…
As an 'evolving' vegan every day I am confronted with the choice to not cause harm to any living thing that day. And every day I consciously make that choice I can go to bed at the end of the day feeling good about myself knowing that I've done what's best for not only the animals but my body and the whole planet!! Now that's priceles isn't it, what could be better than that?
CurlyLocks said…
The video of Kate and Shane is just precious! Kate is a talented lady and definitely a role model for vegan/vegetarian moms. The "vegan" necklace which she designed is lovely.
I've been so blessed to connect with giving and proactive vegans from the first day I started 4 months ago. Because of that I went from simply changing my diet to now writing articles for our local paper on proactive vegan lifestyle. I've learned about diet impacting our environment and that I can help with that by my everyday choices. We've just become member owners of our local cooperative market and will start volunteering there all because of the interviews I get to do for the paper. The best thing is I get to share all I learn with everybody I know! And...I get to keep learning everyday.

Evolved from changing diet to a proactive whole lifestyle because I have awesome people surrounding me, encouraging me, and mentoring me. Hard work, but so fulfilling. Rewards come from my life being changed every time I try to help someone. I 'm the one who ends up better for it.

Woohoo!!! Living out Loud is so healthful, body, soul, mind, and spirit :D
Kylee said…
I would describe my Vegan evolution as an evolution of my self. I am seventeen year old who has recently had unknown medical issues, affecting my mobility and just about every aspect of my everyday life. I was mad at myself, mad at my body, and mad t the world in general. I stumbled upon a video of animal cruelty, and my life was changed for the better. I realized if I couldn't control what was happening to MY body, then I could control what was happening to the body of another creature. I learned to turn my anger and confusion into love and into compassion. I have evolved into a person I can be happy with inside, and forget about my flaws people see when I walk slowly. Veganism has given me my life back, a new one that I am so excited to explore!
JACQUELYNN said…
Oh my goodness, that little boy is the cutest thing EVER! What an awesome little veggie munchkin! So cool to see a younger generation becoming so aware, it's giving us so much hope!

Her story, personality and jewelry is heart warming and beautiful!
Lindsay said…
These are fabulous! Thank you for sharing such amazing stories - and I'll be announcing the winners on the blog tomorrow. Keep your eyes open for it... :)
oops. you asked for 3-4 sentences. Sorry about that. I was so excited by the question I did not read your instructions well.
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Thank you for your support.
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Anonymous said…
Kate Wolff ladies & gentlemen! Give it up for her & Shaney!!! ;-)
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