Lorri Delahunty got fit at 50, lost nearly five stones, quit drinking, became vegan, reinvented herself and feels better than she did at 30. Lorri was also one of 12 finalists in PETA’s UK and Ireland’s Most Beautiful Vegan Over 50 Competition 2020 too.
1. What has been your Best Life Project to date?
Setting up VEGAN Happy Clothing as it allows us to raise much-needed funds for animal rescue and sanctuaries and allows us to be vegan evangelists through all our customers wearing our clothes, which each carries a subtle vegan logo, therefore sparking the conversation wherever people go.
2. The unknown … what challenges did you have to overcome?
We have huge competition in that there are a lot of vegan brands that offer clothing so we had to be very clear on how we wanted to be different… and then ignore the competition! We try not to look over our shoulder but forge our own path.
We have recently branched out and have a base in the US, in Boston, so we have also had the extra challenge of trying to find suppliers and decorators in the US whilst meeting on Zoom calls! It’s been tricky but you have to look at all the subtleties of communication this way and also trust your gut a lot.
3. In hindsight…..what would you do differently?
I don’t think I would do anything differently. We didn’t even really expect VEGAN Happy to take off as well as it did. I really set it up as I couldn’t find the sort of clothes I wanted to wear so set about creating my own range that I thought would appeal to a broad section of vegans that wanted to fly the vegan flag but in a more subtle way.
So when it did take off, no one was more surprised than us, so I guess in the beginning we didn’t even feel like we were taking a big leap of faith as we only invested a small amount and a dream.
Possibly the only thing I would change is to have devoted more time to it in year one to help it grow quicker but that wasn’t possible at the time, it was still my side project then whilst now it is my full time business.
4. Next steps?
For VEGAN Happy UK to start manufacturing our own clothes as currently we ethically source and then decorate with our logo, but with the pandemic we haven’t been able to visit factories to check them out so we haven’t been able to take this next step. However, we already have plans to design and have our first garments made for us and visits to factories to check them out will happen early in 2022.
For VEGAN Happy USA, it’s such early days that our plan is to spend more time trying to build our profile and customer base in this new and very exciting territory. We thought it could be an easy replication of how things at what drivers will help us deliver the very best for the US audience.
5. What lifestyle changes has lockdown made you consider?
It actually made me exercise less rather than more, I felt it made me lack motivation rather than me grabbing the extra time and making the most of it. I filled the extra time with more work and, with hindsight, that was an error and I should have used that time to focus on myself and spend more time doing yoga and getting my head and heart in tip top shape.
We have also moved into our new premises from previously working from a home-office so it’s been a real gear change to now ‘go to work’ rather than rolling out of bed in my pyjamas and straight in to my office (not a great look but so comfy!). But it’s been good to have to learn new behaviours and also it’s made us more organised as now, dog walk is at 6am, yoga at 7am and then it’s work time. So it’s a change I was really resisting, but it’s been so refreshing.
6. Kissing frogs …. is there an unexpected person who has helped you and, if so, how did they do it?
The most unexpected person who has ever helped me is a guy I sat next to at an awards dinner just over five years ago who set me on to the path to giving up alcohol for good.
It was a random discussion about his wife giving up smoking and it really spurred me on to give up drinking, and it’s funny how abstract comments can really impact your already churning brain cogs and set in motion a turn of events you really hadn’t expected.
My drinking had become really quite serious, always more than two bottles of wine a day, but I was so highly functioning I never really fought hard to stop. I had tried but didn’t get very far.
Then I met the amazing Jason and just one kind conversation (about smoking, not drinking) set me on the path to quitting alcohol completely, I lost over four stones and I have now been sober for over five years and couldn’t be happier and healthier.
So it’s amazing how random strangers and encounters can really affect your life if you are open to listening and to change. I probably owe Jason my life and I can never thank him enough.
7. My Inspiration ….who or what inspires you?
I am inspired by so many people daily. Anyone that suffers and struggles, and still manages to keep going and keep a smile on their face. I resonate with upbeat, happy people, but the pandemic has brought such despair to so many, such financial and emotional hardship for everyone, and I still can’t see a quick end to this. I see daily the inspiring people that continue to help families and individuals through this crisis, and to all of those who put their own needs aside and focus on animal welfare and help all those sanctuaries that are struggling now more than ever.
I am inspired mostly by anyone that sets up an animal sanctuary or rescue. This means they usually put ALL of their money into it. They don’t have a waking moment ever for themselves. Their lives become devoted to helping those gorgeous animals they rescue. I salute each and every one of them.
8. How do you relax or do you struggle to relax?
I love walking my Beagle Marbles who is a cute three-year-old, literally like a toddler. We live in the countryside near Worcester, with the Malvern Hills in the distance, so walking really does clear your head and makes me very grateful for being alive.
Of course sheep and cows are everywhere along our walks so counting sheep is actually a hobby!
Also, another surprise from lockdown is within the females in our family we started a Book Club. There are four of us and each month we choose a new book, so that is quite lovely, to rediscover reading again, to read such diverse choices, and to have to devote time to it so we can confer. I am finding it so relaxing and a great stress release at the end of the day just before bed.
Oooh… I am also learning to make raw vegan chocolates currently. Super easy and so exciting to start combining flavours and seeing what happens! Some hit and miss but some amazing!
9. Guilty secret pleasure?
Buying shoes which I keep hiding in the cupboard before anyone sees them! When you run a casual clothing brand, and I LOVE all of our clothes, combined with living in the messy muddy countryside, the danger is you stop dressing up, so I recognised that I had become a little bit tardy in the dressing up to go out stakes so I have rectified that… and I didn’t realise there are so many gorgeous shoes about right now! Oh dear…
10. Words of wisdom?
I hate to pinch the words off Nike, but ‘Just Do It’. Lockdown has been amazing for lots of smaller brands popping up. There are lots of crafty and unique brands now selling on Etsy and other marketplaces and it’s amazing to see! So this has proved that you don’t need to think long and hard and have huge capital investments, and with the advent of marketplaces like www.crazy-bean.com (vegan and ethical) and also Etsy, it means anyone can have an idea and start a business without huge outlay. So any creative thoughts that people want to do, items they want to make, just do it! You will regret it if you don’t, but you might end up running the business of your dreams, and on your own terms.
The only thing in life holding us back is ourselves.
We can be anything we want to be.
Decide what you want and go for it.
VEGAN Happy is located in Stockton-on Teme, near Worcester, England, but ships globally. Please check out VEGAN Happy at www.veganhappyclothing.co.uk