What we put on in the morning can either make us feel like we’re on our game or just going through the motions. If you think about when you’ve felt your most confident at work or out on the town, it’s more than likely a time when you’ve put your best-dressed foot forward. When you’re looking for a polished, cruelty-free fashion label that will make you feel sophisticated while being modest enough for the office, you have a friend in Animal Behavior.
Beginning as an idea over two years ago, Founder and CEO Melanie Linehan launched this conscious brand in Winter 2014. With an MFA in fashion design from the Academy of Art University in San Francisco, Linehan uses her sketching skills in Animal Behavior and her second business, HauteSketch, as a marketing and creative consultant. AB’s first collection includes the breezy Canopy top, the svelte Nocturnal dress, and their best-selling Panthera jumpsuit.
Not only are Animal Behavior garments classy, but so is the ethos behind them. The vision, as detailed on their site, reads: “By using sustainable materials and socially responsible practices, our goal is to create a shift in the fashion industry towards more thoughtful and responsible way of doing business.”
The company also boasts a triple-threat of awareness:
1. Locally Produced: Every component of animal behavior’s garments, from zippers, buttons to labels, are made within a 10 mile radius in Los Angeles, CA”
2. Sustainable: animal behavior’s garments are produced using surplus materials, creating a second life for these leftover fabrics. In order to counter the environmental impact of shipping, Animal Behavior donates to carbon offset programs for every shipment sent.
3. Socially Responsible: With every purchase made, Animal Behavior will donate 5% to Panthera.org in hopes of reversing the Amur Leopard’s endangerment and extinction. (Note: the group donated to will change from collection to collection.)
Linehan was kind enough to take time out for an interview on her life and the brand. Read on to find out what’s surprised her about running AB, how she stays centered, and her favorite vegan beauty product recommendations.
PD: So why did you decide to start a cruelty-free fashion company? Did you have any prior experience in the fashion industry before this?
ML: I knew I wanted to have a positive, not negative impact on the environment, so the cruelty-free component was certainly paramount to the brand. Outside of my MFA in Fashion Design, I had experience working with fashion brands on their social and marketing strategies during my time at Twitter and as a marketing consultant at my own company, HauteSketch.
PD: What has been the most surprising thing you’ve learned since you’ve started your company?
ML: Probably how passionate the vegan community is about a brand like Animal Behavior.
PD: How do you stay on track in your day-to-day life when you feel overwhelmed or anxious?
ML: Yoga! And maybe a glass of red wine and a phone call to my mother.
PD: Who or what has inspired you the most?
ML: Certainly my parents; my father is a sustainable engineer and entrepreneur, and my mother is the rock of our family. And of course, the iconic Jane Goodall and her impact and voice of those that have no voice, the animal kingdom.
PD: If you could give one piece of advice to aspiring entrepreneurs who want to make a difference, what would it be?
ML: Starting is the hardest part, but once you start there is no stopping you.
PD: What’s up next for Animal Behavior?
ML: We are currently working on raising a seed round of funding so we can start on our next collection, and creating some second runs of our most popular piece, the Panthera Jumpsuit, in black.
Melanie’s Essentials List
Can’t-Live-Without-It Vegan Beauty Product:
I have two: for stress-induced breakouts, the Indie Lee Blemish Stick and a little anti-aging magic, Eminence Organics Bamboo Firming Fluid; it smells divine.
Style Icon That Inspires You:
The iconic Katharine Hepburn
Favorite City/Country to Visit:
Most recently San Sebastian or Zahara in Spain (and soon, Capetown, South Africa)
Favorite Vegan Restaurant:
Gracias Madre off Melrose is amazing.
It is your life’s work, so do what you love.
My friend @cakeandcork makes some incredible vegan cookies.
When You Feel Most Beautiful:
When I have helped someone in need.
More inspiring interviews: Jill Fraser of Luxury Vegan Accessories Line Jill Milan
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Photo: Animal Behavior