Sometimes life presents you with a special opportunity to personally meet and get to know someone you admire. That special someone is Ashley Byrne, Director of Outreach & Communications for PETA. We at O2 Monde immediately found not only a fellow animal-lover but equally a passionate advocate for ethical fashions. Animal welfare has played a major role in Ashley’s life since a very young age. Over the years she became more and more concerned about the ethical treatment of animals across all sectors of life not just what's being served on your plate. And so began her life of activism and advocating for the protection and rights of animals. We wanted to absorb all her knowledge and expertise, and Ashley was kind enough to offer us the chance.
First, a quick introduction about you…
"I’m a director with PETA and have been with the organization for 15 years, I always knew I wanted to work on behalf of animals in some way in my life because the work is so very important. I feel incredibly lucky, I got my dream job without even realizing it was my dream job or that it even existed. PETA and everyone who works there are passionately devoted to the mission and job we do on behalf of all animals.
I began my journey as a vegetarian at 17 and quickly became a vegan a year later. In the 90s it was a challenge and definitely not so much fun trying to live that lifestyle. There was a tremendous lack of awareness and availability, and the fashion industry forget about it, there were even fewer options if you wanted to wear an ethical wardrobe. I've always had a deep love for fashion and thought I might end up working in the fashion industry someday as a fashion photographer or working for a fashion magazine. I knew very early on that living a vegan lifestyle must extend to my closet as well."
What is your favorite O2 Monde shoe and how did you discover the brand?
"O2 Monde is a PETA business friend, we support each other, they also have the PETA-approved Vegan Certification as well as the PETA-approved Cruelty-Free Certification. I own the gorgeous Celia pump, they are both vegan and ethical!"
"I love the embellished Y strap slingback, they are so versatile and transition from work to evening perfectly. You can feel the quality and care but above all the expert attention to detail, I very much appreciate that. You will even find me walking around NY in my Celia pump that's how comfortable they are.
I value Mirco and O2 Monde for the deeper message, and integrity they stand for. The passion, authenticity, and love come through from everything they do. Mirco is showing the world that it can be done, his vision is exciting and it’s refreshing to see the bold steps he has taken in the luxury shoe industry."
"Please share more about PETA for those who may not know or understand what and who they are as an organization. PETA stands for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, an animal rights organization that was started in the U.S and has since spread internationally. I fell in love with the work PETA does long before I started working there. Most people may not be aware that PETA extends from protecting animals, not just in the food and agricultural industries but in cosmetics and fashion too. PETA was addressing these issues throughout various industries, not just animals raised for food but for fashion as well. PETA has powerful undercover investigations, in addition to their amazing and bold campaigns that are impossible to ignore and reach people by applying to activism."
Photo Credit: PETA.org / Joaquin Phoenix: PETA’s 2019 Person of the Year
Where can someone find the best inspiration as well as credible honest sustainable fashions?
"Anyone wanting to make changes or make a difference to help the animals start with your shopping habits, look for the PETA Vegan and/or Cruelty-Free Certifications from brands. Anyone wanting to make more of a commitment to wearing vegan look no further than the www.PETA.org website. We literally have a guide to wearing vegan and how and where to shop. There are petitions you can sign, receive our emails, and an action alert, movements to join for those wanting to get more involved. "
What is something you wish people knew about sustainable fashion? Or the biggest myth/misconception about sustainable fashions?
I want to dispel the prejudice, that sustainable, ethical luxury fashion is boring and limited. There are such unique and innovative vegan materials happening now within the fashion industry and it keeps getting better. From plants, wine, or grape leather to cactus, pineapple, and mushrooms, and what’s most exciting is they are often using the waste products. There is no longer really a need to use animal skins and fibers and let’s be honest there is no eco-friendly way to do it. Many forward-thinking consumers nowadays want more from their fashions, the demand is there and the message is getting out and it can’t be stopped."