APRIL 5, 2018
We had the chance to connect with the creator and owner Crystal Brown and ask her a few questions about how her store came to be, how she finds her gems, what they are made of, and what fabulous delights are in house for our yoga community.
Can you share with us how Grinning Goat came to be?
In January 2017, I took a voluntary leave from my job to spend some time focusing on my passions, time that my then current job just didn’t allow for. Soon into my 1 year leave, I was lucky enough to learn about The Alice Sanctuary and began helping out there 3-4 days a week and it was amazing!! I finally felt like I was doing something truly important with my life. I had already been vegan for a number of years at that point, but this was my first time meeting other vegans in Calgary and the surrounding area. As I met the other volunteers and their families, I realized that we all faced the same challenges when it came to finding places to shop. There was a definite lack of ethical vegan shopping options in Calgary. A major problem was finding somewhere to shop for shoes. Usually it meant purchasing them online which can be risky when you can’t try them on or see them in person. As my leave was coming to an end, I decided to open The Grinning Goat instead of continuing in the oil & gas industry. It just seemed like to perfect fit. It means that every day, my team and I get to talk to those who are passionate about animals, ethics, the environment, and social responsibility. We are able to provide people with products that match their values and also educate others who are curious about what it all means. Every day we see so many happy faces come into the store, it really is an amazing community and I am so grateful to be part of it.
All items in your store are not only vegan but also ethically sourced. Many of us aren’t even aware of how challenging it can be to find something that is truly vegan or what it takes to find these items. Can you give us a little glimpse into how you go about discovering these gems?
Research, research, research! And ask questions! We are always on the hunt for new materials and textiles. When we see something that intrigues us, we will get in touch with the manufacturer and see what products are on the market. We have many criteria that we look at before bringing something into the store. These include not only being animal free (of course), but things such as the environmental impact of the production process, how the garment workers are treated, and policies that manufacturer may have in place to ensure fair labour practices are being used. We also prefer to support local and Canadian where possible. As a vegan, you learn to question everything so it’s pretty much second nature. Also, companies and brands that follow these same philosophies are proud to share that information, so you can often even find a lot of the information straight from their website. It is important these days to be as transparent as possible because it makes shopping more accessible for those with an interest in ethical living.
From shoes to t-shirts to watches your store has a fabulous variety of vegan items. I know they can be made of a variety of things. What are some of the more unusual materials used.
When people come into the store for the first time, we love pointing out our more unique items. The most exciting of these and the one that people find the most fascinating are the Pinatex shoes. Pinatex is a textile that is made by felting the fibres from pineapple leaves. Since the leaves are a waste product of the industry, there is no additional land, water, pesticides or fertilizers needed to produce them. Not only is it vegan, but it is also significantly more eco friendly than leather which uses toxic chemicals in the tanning process. Another unique material you will see in store is cork. Cork is also a significantly more sustainable material that is becoming increasingly popular. The cork tree is the only tree that can have its bark harvested without actually killing the tree itself. Once the tree is about 25-30 years old, it can be harvested every 9 years until it is approximately 200 years old. Cork is naturally waterproof and can be used in the same way as leather or even upholstery fabric.
Are there any items you are excited to share this Spring in your store?
We are currently focusing on bringing more cork items into the store in terms of bags, wallets, and caps. Since we don’t deal in fast fashion, it can take time for some new products to make an appearance on the shelves, but you can expect to see more of this material later this Spring. We can’t wait!
Any items our yogi’s might really be into?
We think our yogi friends would really love the shampoo and conditioner bars that we carry from local company Unwrapped Life. They come in a tin which is super convenient to take to the gym or yoga studio and even travelling! You no longer have to carry bottles of shampoo and conditioner around which makes it way more convenient and environmentally friendly than using bottled hair products. And when the bars run out (which takes forever), you can just come into the store and pick up refills! Another great item would be our Jefferson shoes from Native in Vancouver. They are incredibly light, comfy, and so easy to slip on and off when running to and from yoga class!
For Santosha Members: Visit Grinning Goat and flash them your MBO to receive 10% off your purchase.
Free Yoga: Bring in your receipt from Grinning Goat and receive one free class at Yoga Santosha from April 1-30*
*One free class per member per month.