In conversation with Suzanne Harper, founder of A Perfect Jane, discussing the inspiration and process behind her cruelty-free, sustainable and fun products.
Q1. What inspired you to pursue building your brand and bringing it to life?

When I got my first dog, Jane, our bond was immediate and unbreakable. This connection made me acutely aware of animal cruelty not only in fashion but also in my diet, leading me to adopt a vegan lifestyle. While finding trendy and high-quality vegan boots proved to be a challenge, I was determined to fill this gap in the market and decided to design them myself.

Q2. What were the biggest challenges for you to launch it?

Launching our brand amidst the COVID-19 pandemic presented significant hurdles. Retailers were understandably hesitant to stock a completely new brand during such uncertain times. Additionally, building a brand from scratch, creating unique designs, and gaining recognition in a competitive industry posed substantial challenges.

Q3. Why do you think sustainability in the fashion industry is so important?

Because there is no Planet B. Mass consumption and fast fashion practices must come to a halt. They have detrimental effects on the environment and the people working in this sector. Prioritising sustainability in the fashion industry is crucial for the well-being of our planet and future generations.

Q4. Can you share the greatest lesson you have learned while working in the fashion industry?

One of the greatest lessons I have learned is that sustainability often comes at a price. While I strive to operate as sustainably as possible and minimize waste, achieving this goal requires collaboration throughout the entire supply chain. For instance, if I want to order lower quantities of boots but my shoe box supplier or material supplier has minimum order quantity requirements, it becomes challenging to maintain sustainable practices.

Q5. Can you tell us about the fabrics/materials that you use and why you chose them?

We utilize apple leather for the exterior of our boots. I chose this material because it is sourced from Europe, aligning with our commitment to local production. Additionally, apple leather is incredibly durable and sustainable, ensuring longevity and reducing environmental impact. For the interior, we opted for corn leather, which provides a soft and comfortable feel against the skin. Furthermore, our cork insoles offer exceptional comfort and breathability, allowing our boots to be worn without socks while preventing sweaty or odorous feet.

Q6. What makes your products stand out?

Our products stand out for several reasons. Firstly, the story behind starting our brand resonates with our customers. It showcases our passion for cruelty-free fashion and our commitment to making a positive impact. Additionally, our unique branding sets us apart. The bright green outsoles, designed in a leaf pattern to leave a "green footprint," symbolise our dedication to sustainability. We have also incorporated our slogan, "Walking on Plants," into some of our designs through embroidery, further emphasising our brand message.

Q7. A lot of people find working in the fashion industry fascinating. What does your usual work routine consist of?

I primarily focus on managing our online sales channel. However, I find the intricacies of running a successful online business to be more challenging than anticipated. This includes tasks such as maintaining a technically sound website, implementing effective advertising strategies, building a strong online brand presence, and ensuring smooth coordination among various parties involved in production and the supply chain.

Q8. How do you think the fashion industry can be improved?

To promote sustainability, I believe the fashion industry should adopt a significantly lower minimum order quantity requirement. Additionally, implementing stricter regulations for fast fashion practices would help curb overconsumption and encourage a more sustainable approach to fashion production.

Q9. Do you have any other designers that inspire you? Who's your idol? (in fashion and otherwise)

When it comes to style and unique designs, I draw inspiration from Isabel Marant.

Q10. Is there a specific type of style you aim for when designing your products, or do you experiment with different styles throughout the whole process of creating an item?

We initially focused on Western-style boots that can be worn for various occasions, including work. However, we are continuously evolving and exploring new styles for the future.

Q11. In times of tough challenges, how do you overcome them?

During challenging times, I overcome obstacles by maintaining unwavering belief in our brand. Instead of solely focusing on sales, I aim to inspire others and build a sense of community and support. By fostering a loyal fanbase, we can navigate through tough challenges together and emerge stronger.

Q12. In what ways does your brand interact with the consumer?

We interact with consumers through various channels, including social media platforms, LinkedIn, blog writing, and attending trade fairs and events.

Q13.What kind of message do you want your brand to reflect on the public?

Our brand strives to convey a powerful message of cruelty-free fashion, sustainability, and looking great.

Q14. Where do you see your brand in the near future?

In the near future, we envision our brand gaining international recognition. As part of our expansion plans, we are excited to participate in Vegan Fashion Week 2023 in Los Angeles. 

Q15. Which aspects of your production process have changed over time and why?

Over time, we have made adjustments to our production process to align with our sustainability goals. Instead of producing two new collections per year, we now focus on ordering good-selling styles in new colours and lower quantities. 

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