At vegan charity Viva!’s birthday fundraising dinner last month, Brighton-based Vegetarian Shoes founder Robin Webb was presented with two awards by Viva! Patrons Peter Egan and Jerome Flynn. Webb received the prestigious ‘Award for Outstanding Loyalty & Commitment as a Business Partner’ and the ‘Award for Excellence and Innovation: Best Vegan Footwear’.
Vegetarian Shoes was established in 1990, inspired by founder Webb’s drive to create sustainable and environmentally-friendly leather-free shoes. Originally, Robin made all the shoes by hand from a synthetic Microfibre material used for yachting upholstery. Soon after, Robin expanded his range of products to include boots, sandals and belts made from the synthetic fabric, and as business boomed the manufacturing was outsourced to a factory. Today, Vegetarian Shoes supplies footwear to consumers all over the world.
For almost 25 years, Robin Webb of Vegetarian Shoes has donated 10% of the sales of his company’s renowned hiking trail boot to Viva!, raising an impressive £25,000. He is a passionate advocate of animal rights and has provided thousands of consumers with fantastic cruelty-free footwear.
In terms of the name Vegetarian Shoes, rather than with the tem “vegan” – Robin explains that the shop “was established in 1990 at a time when Veganism was not as widely recognised – it was a battle just to try and get some soya milk for a cup of tea locally!! As a small, but long established company, it is now a massive undertaking to get our name and identity changed around the world. We are a Vegan-Friendly footwear company (as the majority of our vegan staff will testify), and we are proud and privileged to make the highest quality vegan footwear possible for our wonderful customers!”
Robin explains what the award means to him: “We are so pleased to win two awards from Viva!. We have always been so impressed with the important work Viva! does and are proud that Vegetarian Shoes can be supporters in making the world a better place for animals and humans.”
Other award winners included animal rights advocate and television star Peter Egan, and vegan entrepreneur Heather Mills.