I first went vegan in 2010 and my transition was largely fueled by the ethical aspect of the plant-based diet. After watching documentaries and YouTube videos on the realities of meat production and dairy farming, I decided to research and connect with those living a plant-based lifestyle. I realized I can be healthy and thriving on a vegan diet without harming any animals.

After transforming my diet, I began to overhaul my everyday beauty and home products, quickly realizing how many were tested on animals or contained animal ingredients like glycerin, casein, and collagen. That is when I realized my biggest “why” to going vegan and, ultimately, what sparked the idea for a new business. Learning how difficult it was to recognize if a product was vegan, and the lack of resources to learn and purchase from, inspired me to make this process easier for myself and others.

This personal struggle brought me to creating The Vegan Warehouse in 2017 – the very first all-vegan online marketplace.

I, alongside my now-husband and business partner, wanted to create a platform to show vegans, plant-curious, and everyone in-between how easy it can be to shop vegan, without compromising convenience or quality. A platform like ours is something I always dreamed of on my vegan journey. We take the guesswork out of plant-based purchases, analyzing ingredient labels, looking up each product manufacturer, checking for cruelty free certifications, etc. Those tasks are incredibly time consuming and a hassle many of us simply do not have the energy for.

The response since our launch has been extremely encouraging. We now have over 10,000 customers and offer over 400 unique vegan products on our platform, with 20+ new items added each month.

I started The Vegan Warehouse at just 22 years old and encountered many challenges along my journey as a young female entrepreneur. For those trying to find their why, or just beginning their new business journey, here are some of my top tips to start implementing NOW:

1. Remember that starting young puts you at an ADVANTAGE (contrary to popular belief). At this stage of your life you have a lot less to risk. Your financial needs are likely still quite low and your energy levels high!

2. Keep your job for as long as you can. Make sure to have real proof of concept and financial viability before you quit. Don’t put all the pressure on your new business to bring you income right away. Growth and profitability takes time

3. Don’t be afraid to hire people who know more than you. As a young and inexperienced entrepreneur you may feel intimidated to be a “boss” to someone significantly older or with more knowledge. That is however the absolute best way to take your business to the next level!

4. Connect with fellow entrepreneurs. The path of a business owner can get lonely, especially when your friends are pursuing traditional careers. With the extreme ups and downs of entrepreneurship comes the need for emotional maturity and mental stability that can be hard to find on your own. From my experience connecting with fellow entrepreneurs via local meet ups is a great way to share your journey and get some support. Plus the networking doesn’t hurt!

5. Fake it till you make it!!! As a young female entrepreneur I really struggled with being in rooms with more experienced people and standing my ground. Insecurities are likely to creep up in those moments and what really helps me keep my confidence is the knowledge that truly nobody has it all figured out. That account you follow on Instagram with 100k followers and a multi-million dollar brand also has their own struggles. The people who intimidate you in business also have to ask questions sometimes. We are all learning as we go and you are no less worthy of respect because of your age or gender. So be proud of what you’ve built and don’t ever sell yourself short.