29 November 2010

Interview with 'Vegan Aesthetics' founder Pennie Mills

“Just about every piece of jewelry I have made tells a story,” says Pennie Mills who is the soft spoken founder of Vegan Aesthetics and Compassionate Blend. Mills a long time animal rights activist and vegan was kind enough to take some time to answer a few questions for This Dish is Veg.

This Dish is Veg (TDIV): What inspired you to start Ladies Blend Brand/Vegan Aesthetics?
Pennie Mills (PM): I’m a licensed massage therapist with a strong creative side. I have a great passion for natural holistic living, gem therapy, meditation, aromatherapy and welcome complementing ideals that fill my life with positive influences. In the very beginning, nothing grand really, basically my hobbies turned into a little business. Through the years, it has grown and taken on more meaning.

TDIV: For anyone who may not be too familiar with gem therapy can you explain what it is?
PM: Gem Therapy is an alternative form of healing/supporting specific conditions/subjects that has been around and used for generations. Distinct gemstones are chosen based on therapeutic properties and sometimes mystical lore, color, and chakra association.

TDIV: Why choose to make jewelry?
PM : I really enjoy working with tiny pieces/parts and it is a form of self expression. So much of what I believe in is in some way incorporated into the jewelry that I create.

TDIV: What usually inspires you to create a piece?
PM: Life-the good, the bad and the ugly. The good is easy, the others are the challenges. Positive and sometimes healing energy, messages and feelings can come from the latter two.

TDIV: How important is it for your product to be vegan?
PM: I’m vegan and lifestyle driven, so it is very important, there is no other way in my eyes. Animal derived materials are in no way needed or necessary to create anything meaningful and beautiful.

TDIV: When creating your jewelry what are your favorite types of materials to use?
PM: I love being surrounded by beautiful semi-precious stones and enjoy using sterling silver wire to create designs.

TDIV: What are you best sellers?
PM: It changes with the seasons, vegan inspired and pieces that convey a message are always good sellers.

TDIV: What is your favorite piece of jewelry and why?
PM: Right now, because I am trying to bring more balance into my life, my favorite piece is the chakras bracelet. My all-time favorite piece is the key to the farm necklace. The blessed farm animals, their pain and suffering weighs heavy on my heart.

TDIV: Do any of your pieces that you have created have a story behind how they came about?
PM: There are very few pieces that do not have a story behind them. Most recently, the gem therapy bracelets, which started out as one bracelet for myself. Now there are seven in the collection with more that have been requested. I am very determined when something goes awry to find the positive aspects and if it is at all possible, I will make a positive connection through a piece of jewelry.

TDIV: What message would you like your brand to convey?
PM: It is a simplistic, fresh looking collection that is made and meant to be worn.

TDIV: What inspires you?
PM: Lifestyle, life changing events, people, animals, beauty, simplicity, truth, honesty, positive energy.

TDIV: Can you explain what your blog Compassionate Blend is about?
PM: It’s really just a place to put things that I think may be helpful or interesting to others. I add to it as I feel up to it. It’s fun, not something I stress about having to do. I like to post about vegan health and beauty, my jewelry, animal related things, etc. Before my jewelry line, I had a natural, organic bath and beauty product line. I share a lot of those recipes as well as at home spa recipes that we can whip up with ingredients found right in our kitchen and gardens. There is a tutorial on how to make candles, how to help control stress with aromatherapy, some vegan food recipes, all kinds of good little tidbits.

TDIV: What’s in store for the future?
PM: In 2011 the line will make a noticeable transition. In an effort to become more self sufficient and have more control of the creative reigns, I’ll be phasing out some pieces and replacing many of the hand stamped jewelry pieces with similar, more detailed pieces made from precious metal clay. Whereas right now I am using sterling silver blanks to hand stamp on, the new pieces will be 100% unique and made by me.

TDIV: Why should people purchase your jewelry?
PM: It is easy to wear everyday jewelry, comfortable, meaningful and vegan!

Jodi Truglio | email
Jodi has a degree from UNLV in Journalism and Media Studies. She has been a vegetarian for 15 years and now a strict vegan for two years. Jodi made the choice to be a vegetarian because she has always loved animals and nature and saw the importance of wanting to preserve both. In Jodi's spare time when she enjoys yoga and pilates.

Photo credit: Pennie Mills