This Friday we are super excited to share our latest interview with Elina Bergert; the founder of Coco’s Liberty Jewellery. She shares with us her vegan story and how she first found being vegan in London as well as what it’s like starting up a jewellery brand with ethics and strong values from the beginning. Read on to find out more…
Hi Elina! Tell us a bit about your childhood and how you feel that has influenced you today?
I was born in Sweden to a Swedish Mum and a German Dad, living out the first 10 years of my life in Stockholm. My Childhood was very nice, my siblings and I were out playing all day long. The summers were especially amazing as we would spend the whole time at our summer house in the middle of nowhere at the Sea. When I was 10 we moved to Germany and since then I have just been moving around. When I was 5 my Dad taught me how to make rings from leftover gold and it has been my big passion since!
When did you vegan and why?
I went vegan almost 5 years ago after being more or less vegetarian for almost my entire life. However we don´t really know how it happened; my sister and I were discussing something about having good hair, and how eggs supposedly help strengthen it, and then I think we recognised the suffering animals had to go through for it. My sister and I then both decided to go vegan. I think I was already very curious as a kid as to why we should eat and kill animals just for our pleasure, and that lead to started to refuse to eat meat and fish more and more.
What did you find most challenging about first going vegan?
5 years ago in Germany and especially in the UK, there weren’t that many vegan options yet, so at first, it was a bit of a struggle finding nice things to eat and would end up cooking a lot. I can be quite picky with what I eat and the taste; for example, I don’t like things that are supposed to taste like meat. Luckily my sister and I went vegan at the same time, so we went through the same things and always had someone to talk to.
What did you friends and family think of you going vegan?
As my sister and I went vegan at the same time it wasn’t too bad with the family, but they still don’t really understand why we went vegan, unfortunately. I think friends reacted quite positively and I have a couple of friends who then also went vegan or at least started to cut out more meat and dairy products. As time goes by, you also make new vegan friends, so that has been really nice.
I still from time to time do get the typical reactions when people find out I am vegan, such as; how do you get your protein, but 5 years in I have learned to deal with all these negative comments.
When did you start up Coco’s Liberty and what was the motivation behind it?
I started Coco´s Liberty 3 years ago after quitting my corporate law job from one day to the other. I was in a meeting with my boss at the time discussing my future within the company and it just hit me, that if that was going to be the rest of my life, someone might as well shoot me now! However, I think even before that talk I became more and more apprehensive that the direction I wanted to go in. I was most passionate about human rights, which was looking more and more impossible and that the other option would be working like crazy in a normal law job and following office policies in order to make it rather than enjoying the field of Law.
After I quit my law job I moved to a Friend of mine in London and started studying Jewellery Design and started Coco´s Liberty after more and more people asked me on the tube in London and everywhere else where I got my jewellery from. So that made me realise that maybe I have something going on here, which is great as jewellery as always been my great passion.
What sets Coco’s Liberty apart from the competition?
I call my Jewellery minimal Scandinavian with a Statement edge; in some ways, it is very minimal because there are barely any gemstones but then it has this fierce sassy empowered statement character to it. In my opinion, you can wear my jewellery all day and all night, alone or layered up. So it is very versatile.
I also do not really play it safe with the jewellery as I try to design pieces that I haven´t seen before, even if they end up sharp and “dangerous” like the Icebreaker Earrings or Azagaie Shoulder Duster Earrings.
What’s your one jewellery style tip?
I can´t live without Earrings and feel empty without them, so on a daily basis I am a hoop kinda girl and wear the Bolt Hoops a lot! So my one Style Tip is to wear gold Earrings and layer them up with as many other piercings as possible; layering jewellery in any form looks great.
What is your favourite Coco’s liberty piece?
Oh that´s difficult, I love them all. But I think if I have to choose, the Kolye Choker. To me it is so versatile, you can wear it with a blouse during the day or over a jumper, and in the evening with something off shoulder and have so many different looks with it. And it´s definitely an eye catcher.
What’s it like being vegan in the city you live in?
In the beginning London was quite difficult to be vegan in; most coffee shops didn’t even offer Soy Milk as an option. Luckily now it has become so much better and everyone even offers Almond or Oat Milk! Restaurants have started with vegan options and there are more and more vegan Restaurants opening up. Even the corner shop near my house stocks vegan options now, so it is become really easy to be vegan in London. I also think people are becoming more and more aware of what they eat, and people are actually interested in what to eat as a vegan. So I feel London is a great city to be in as a vegan.
Why do you think there has been such a rise in veganism over the last few years?
I think people are more and more aware about animal cruelty and don’t want to support it, but probably also because they are more aware of their own health. The media also has done a good job advertising Veganism; for example here in the UK we have Veganury (vegan January) and almost everyone I know did it this year and a lot of people then carry on being Vegan.
I also think people realise that it is not actually healthy to eat meat every single day and people are beginning to look through the food labelling and see the ingredients list and it is scary! So I think people are luckily becoming more health conscious which in the end leads to veganism.
What inspires you?
On Instagram there is John from Badassvegan, I think it´s nice to see his vegan blogs and how positive he is and show that especially as a guy it is cool to go vegan and still do Bodybuilding etc. You don´t need meat protein in order to be fit. I love that! Otherwise I get inspired by strong female Characters like Michelle Obama and Hillary Clinton; both were so graceful throughout the President Campaign.
What’s your average day like?
I usually get up at 7am and get ready and leave my house around 8am at the latest. At home I only drink a Glass of Lemon Juice as I eat breakfast at work. At the moment I work part-time as a lawyer in the city, so I walk there and have breakfast at my desk. By 3pm I go to my studio and get started with Coco´s Liberty stuff or I meet clients, customers, press and media. A lot of days I work really late and often only end up at home around 10/11pm. Often in the studio I forget the time as we don´t have windows there. However in the evenings I do try to either go to the gym or do a yoga class, or go to the Ballet, theatre, meet friends or try out new restaurants. I try to be in bed by midnight and then read a bit before I fall asleep.
Do you think you have a work/life balance?
Hm, probably not really as with Coco´s Liberty there is always something to do! I work every day on it but then again it doesn’t feel like working as it is my little baby and I just want to see it grow. But I can also be quite flexible with Coco´s Liberty when I work, such as working on admin whenever I have time for it, often also in bed.
What’s the best part of your job?
I love the flexibility around the job and seeing my own little Company grow. That makes me really happy and proud. I love being able to design the jewellery I always wanted to have, and find sustainable ways of creating the jewellery such as only using fair trade gold and silver. When I then meet Customer and they love the Jewellery, buy pieces and wear them, this is the perfect satisfaction for me.
What words do you live by?
I am a very positive person, so I try to see things from the positive side and try laugh and smile a lot throughout the Day. I don´t really live by any words but I guess I would say: A Day without Laughter is a wasted Day.
What’s next for you and Coco’s Liberty?
The goal for this year is to quit my part time Law Job for good and only do the jewellery which will leave way more time for it, so I´m hoping to be able to grow even further. Also I am planning to move my jewellery studio to a bigger space with potentially a showroom or store attached. I am also planning to create a monthly Coco´s Liberty vegan dinner event where I invite customer and friends to mingle with each other.
I would also like to grow more with bigger stockists. This year I´m already expanding to Tokyo and Chicago. So my Jewellery will be available there soon, which is super exciting!
If you were as inspired by Elina, her story and her beautiful jewellery pieces check them out here.
If you are vegan blogger, business or just about anyone leading an inspiring vegan lifestyle then please get in touch about being part of our interview series 🙂
All images via Elina Bergert.