Q&A: Veo — The earth friendly marketplace

We spoke to Joe from Veo, a sustainable marketplace and Ethical Consumer Best Buy which is launching in June 2019. We discussed where the platform came from,  how Veo ensures kindness, health and happiness, and advice on how to be more 'earth friendly'.

Tell us a bit about your business, how and when did it start?

Veo is the earth-friendly marketplace. It is a destination for consumers who care about the origins of the products they purchase, and a home for unique independent brands who create high-quality sustainable products.

The idea for the platform originated in December 2015. The concept was to create a shopping platform which showcased and celebrated brands that produced beautiful high-quality products, but those that also ticked all the boxes for ethics and sustainability. 

At the start, it was just something that was discussed in our friend circles and networks, as we all found we were seeking an alternative to other marketplaces that did not seem to align with our ideals and values. Soon after we launched an 'MVP' (minimum viable product) prototype of the Veo marketplace in December 2016 which ran for 2 years (Veopolis). This was really successful as a proof of concept and for customer validation.

We discovered that there were lots of people looking for a similar ethical platform. So at the start of 2019, it was decided that we would re-brand, expand the platform, invite hundreds of brands with fantastic products, and re-launch the Veo marketplace v2.0 in summer 2019.

Just for a bit of added info, the tilted 'e' in Veo resembles a smiley face, but also the tilt is 23.5 degrees which is the same degree that the earth tilts on its axis, which fits in with our earth-friendly message.

What does 'effortlessly ethical' mean?

That's how we describe the core value of Veo. As a curated marketplace, we make the kind, healthy, green choices simple and easy. Ergo, 'effortlessly ethical'. 

Our vendor curation process means that Veo only approves brands that meet the 'earth friendly' criteria, or only those that are good for the earth and everyone on it. With this in place, those on the Veo marketplace can shop freely and unreservedly knowing that all the products on there meet their ethics. 

This creates a frictionless experience for consumers, making ethical shopping effortless.

So tell us about your vendor curation process -  three ‘pillars’ of your marketplace are ‘Kind’, ‘Healthy’ and ‘Green’. How do you make sure that the brands on your store line up with all of those values?

Our Vendor Application process reviews many areas of a business, including governance, manufacturing, labour and workforce policy, and supply chains. 

For 'Kindness' it looks at promoting dignity and quality of life for all humans and animals. This includes protecting the rights of people and workers worldwide, maintaining fair standards, and ensuring safe & healthy conditions across the supply chain(s). It also ensures that all products are cruelty-free (no animal testing), and free from animal products or by-products, to ensure the marketplace is suitable for animal rights supporters, vegans, and vegetarians (100% vegan-friendly).

For 'Health' we ensure that products are free from toxins, harmful ingredients, and hazardous substances that may be detrimental to our health. This includes a long list of prohibited items and processes, including petroleum-based ingredients, any Formaldehyde donating preservatives, microbeads, or Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) to name just a few.

For 'Environment' this means ensuring that brands promote planet awareness, sustainability and biodiversity, with business processes that consider the environmental and ecological impact in the design, manufacture, and production of goods – to support low carbon, minimised waste, reduced pollution, and eco-friendly trading.

What sets you apart from other online ethical stores?

What sets Veo apart from other stores is its fully holistic approach to ethics, combined with the scope and convenience of a multi-vendor marketplace. In the beginning, we identified two problems which applied to both consumers and brands:

  • the ability to discover ethical brands (or be discovered)

  • the difficulty in consumers being able to determine whether products and brands met the various criteria. 

For the first challenge, we realised that there are millions of incredible earth-friendly brands around the UK and abroad, producing amazing ethical products, but we found that consumers often had difficulty discovering brands (both online and offline). If these brands were all discoverable in an online marketplace then consumers would have a one-stop shop to explore and discover many new brands and products all in one place. 

The second challenge was ensuring that the platform met all ethical criteria, and to create a trusted and seamless journey for the consumer regardless of what level they were engaged. This would ensure an inclusive and accessible experience that could engage all visitors, from those who are starting to become engaged with making better choices, through to those already highly informed and discerning consumers, and everyone in between.

So rather than focus on any one single ethical issue, we set out to cover all bases and ensure that Veo could live up to all the myriad expectations of an ethical consumer. These would include fair trade, safe working conditions and ethical supply chains, as well as protecting animals by being one hundred per cent cruelty-free and vegan-friendly, it would champion health with no nasty ingredients used anywhere, and it would protect the environment. 

We don't believe that this all-encompassing holistic approach is available on any other shopping platform, and it is something we really wanted to achieve with the Veo marketplace. 

Where do you see Veo in five years time?

We would like Veo to become a leading shopping & lifestyle marketplace to inspire kind, healthy, green living. 

We hope to be a part of the movement to disrupt retail and expedite the global trend towards sustainable business and a Circular Economy. The trend is critical, but the positive stories we increasingly see in the news indicate that the tide is turning and meaningful and powerful changes are happening. 
 

What advice do you have for someone who is thinking about becoming more earth-friendly?

I think it's rewarding to find small incremental 'upgrades' that we can make from our regular everyday activities. From the moment we wake our routine is filled with products, household consumables, beauty, personal hygiene, food & beverage, clothing, and general lifestyle. When we examine each of the products used we begin to get an idea of the impact that we make, and also how each of these tiny choices begins to define the larger picture of each of all our collective consumer choices. 

A great way to begin recognising and making these 'upgrades' is by speaking with others about different things we can do, improvements for our routine, and sharing recommendations for different products and alternatives that we can swap. The ethical community is growing exponentially, so there are countless online forums and social media groups to join the conversation, and also real-life events, meet-ups, fairs, and markets. We can connect with other like-minded people, colleagues, friends, and everyone can exchange tips, ideas, and encouragement.

With our forays into becoming more earth-friendly, the conversation continues to grow. For those with children, this is also a great way to get the family involved, making games and fun exercises out of it. 

And although I guess it goes without saying, Veo world is a good place to check out. Not just for the shopper marketplace, but also for lots of engaging content, regular blogs, features, and our #Veovids video channel which can be followed on social media.
   

Sum up Veo in three words? 

I suppose it would have to be our pillars: Kind, Healthy, Green! 

We would like to thank Joe for taking the time to chat to Ethical Consumer. For more information, visit the Veo website.