For those who might not know about it, can you sum up Noa Vee in a headline?
The best way to describe Noa Vee would be as a ‘shoppable platform’. It’s an online forum for posting content, as well as showcasing products from small-scale producers, all focused around ethical and sustainable brands.
What was your inspiration for creating Noa Vee?
Growing up, I kept seeing all these harmful standards that women were expected to conform to, and I wanted to try and change that. Noa Vee began life as a blog, I simply wanted to create an online space where anyone could write in to share their experiences, in particular those relating to beauty and fashion. And then as Noa Vee grew, I had lots of people and brands contacting me saying that they wanted to get involved. At the same time, I was seeing a huge increase in the ‘shoppable content’ trend and I thought, there must be a way of combining all of these things. I didn’t want to necessarily create a brand in itself, I just wanted to introduce all these amazing brands to the site’s followers.
Why did you want to tackle traditional beauty standards?
I just saw this whole misconception of health and happiness that was being sold to us all – and in particular to young girls – by the beauty and fashion industries. We’re constantly being told that if we’re thin and pretty, then we’ll be happy. But that’s not right. I wanted to change this, but in a really thoughtful way. And I didn’t just want to publicise my opinion, I wanted to share lots of different voices, from a young girl in Mumbai talking about her life experiences and what makes her happy, to an albino woman living in Mexico and her understanding of what beauty is.
Noa Vee focuses on ethical and sustainable products, do you think buying in this way brings happiness?
Whilst I would definitely love sustainable and ethical fashion to succeed, I’m mindful not to push it as a trend or an agenda. Noa Vee is an online platform that’s there for everyone, and if you happen to see a product you like whilst you’re browsing, then that’s great. The fact that it’s sustainably made and ethically sourced is definitely a bonus, but it’s not the absolute. The last thing I want is for sustainable fashion to become some kind of cult-trend, with the result being that we’ve got young children in school feeling ashamed for not being able to afford these types of clothes.
What difference do you think buying ethical and sustainable products make?
When you buy something that’s ethical and sustainable, you buy a product that’s genuinely been made with care, attention and thoughtfulness. The ‘fast fashion’ trend encourages us to idolise a particular fashion or celebrity – take the Kardashians for example – and then we rush out to the shops or fill our online baskets with products that will help us copy their latest look. And then, by the next week, it’s all over and we’re onto the next big thing. With ethical clothing, it’s completely different. When you buy ethical products, it’s just the product as it is and there’s nobody to aspire to. It’s just you and a product that you love, which has been made with thought and consideration.
How do you choose which products feature on Noa Vee?
I’m really lucky, I feel quite spoilt for choice. When I started, I wasn’t aware of how many brands were out there. I’m always keeping an eye out for unique products that I think will fit well on the website. Yes, the products do need to look pretty, and fit in with the website’s aesthetic, but it’s also got to be something that you wouldn’t just find on the high street. That being said, we do get lots of people shopping on Noa Vee for everyday essentials, like underwear. But for the most part, people are using the site to find that unique item. The brands I pick are carefully selected, so I can really showcase the best of their products.
In addition to running Noa Vee, you’re also studying English Literature at Northumbria University. How do you fit it all in?
I’ve grown so accustomed to Noa Vee being my 24/7 and I’ve always kept myself busy, so I’m used to it being pretty full on! I moved down to London to start interning when I was only 17, before I started college. But I just couldn’t keep up with the expense of being in London as a student, so I had to do something to support myself. I knew that I had so much to say and so many ideas to share, I just needed a way of expressing myself. When I came up with Noa Vee, I poured everything I had into it. Luckily it was really well received, which is amazing because it became an affordable way to say what I wanted, and to build a business, and support myself independently.
What advice would you give to anyone thinking of doing something similar?
Setting up your own business from scratch and running it every day requires someone who’s happy to do a bit of everything. I’ve undertaken work experience in so many different roles, which has exposed me to a lot of different skills. I’ve absorbed what I needed from each role, which has allowed me to build the skillset that I think I need to run Noa Vee. You also can’t do it alone. I have lots of people around me who are really good at what they do, and I love learning from them. But at the end of the day, I feel like I’m still at the start line! I’ve got so much more to learn, but I’m just so excited to keep building the brand.
What’s the best part of running Noa Vee?
There’s so much to choose from! Ever since I founded the website, I’m amazed that it keeps getting such a high volume of traffic. And then to see orders coming through and people buying the products on the site is really mind-blowing. When I think about myself, I’m just a girl from Durham, it’s crazy to me that I’ve built and achieved this. Personally, I really love it when people write to share their experiences, or tell me how thankful they are that I’ve featured their products or their content. There’s certainly a tendency when you run an online platform to want to ‘sell out’ and attract bigger numbers, but Noa Vee’s philosophy is that you don’t need to be an influencer to have an influential story. And I love that I have the ability to publish really interesting stories from people all over the world, it gives me the incentive to keep going.
Do you find inspiration in the North East?
The North East and its creative industry are amazing. We don’t tend to shout about how good we are, and how many skills we have, but that’s what I love about it. We’re quietly just getting on with being brilliant, which fits in very well with Noa Vee.
Finally, where do you go to relax in the North East?
It’s got to be Tynemouth. Whilst I really like Newcastle’s city centre, I just love to escape to the beach from time to time. I like going down to the fish quays – creatively speaking it’s a really beautiful space to be in. I also love Bamburgh Castle, the long grasses and the beaches there are just incredible. We’re so lucky in the North East to be spoilt with such beautiful places.