Stacey Chang has built a shoe brand that delivers high fashion and high function to modern women
Shoe brand, VEERAH is a sustainable startup that produces multi-functional shoes that are responsibly sourced with cruelty-free materials.
Stacey Chang is the entrepreneur behind this shoe brand and since launching her business earlier this year, her debut line has garnered wide success and been embraced by many.
As a business traveler, Stacey had realized that her wardrobe was lacking in shoes that were stylish and comfortable, and that could be transitioned between day and night on a business trip.
Marrying this problem with her passion for living conscientiously and supporting women across the world, and VEERAH was born.
Today this shoe brand is helping women to feel empowered and look their best – whilst making an impact.
In line with her passion for giving back and Stacey’s business has partnered with She’s The First which supports girls’ education, globally.
Building a shoe brand to satisfy and complement the demands of their dynamic, fast-paced, and conscientious lifestyle has been the very foundation of VEERAH
Here, Stacey tells Nativa World about her shoe brand and how she’s making an impact alongside legions of beautifully-heeled #VEERAHwarriors
Stacey, what does the word ‘Achieve’ mean to you?
Breaking free from the status quo and going above-and-beyond the standard.
What’s your background?
Originally from Taipei, Taiwan, I came to the U.S. alone when I was 15 to attend boarding School in Culver, Indiana. I went to Boston University for college and got my MBA from The Wharton School. Prior to founding VEERAH, I had various roles from sales, merchandising, supply chain, and strategy to retail at The Estée Lauder Companies Asia Pacific Headquarters in Hong Kong and Coach Inc. Headquarters in New York City.
What’s the VEERAH mission?
VEERAH (vee-rah), derived from warrior in Sanskrit, is rooted in the belief that today’s mega-tasking women are true modern-day warriors. Building a shoe brand to satisfy and complement the demands of their dynamic, fast-paced, and conscientious lifestyle has been the very foundation of VEERAH. We look at products from a holistic point of view – from sourcing eco-conscious and cruelty-free materials to our support of various non-profit partners.
At VEERAH, we’re inspired by women, made for warriors. I created VEERAH to merge style, quality, compassion and functionality for women today (who we refer to as #VEERAHwarriors). We promise that all VEERAH warriors can always “Do Good. Look Incredible.”
Our shoes are classic silhouettes that come with removable accessories to create multiple looks
What inspired you to create your shoe brand?
I love shoes, but was frustrated by the lack of options in the marketplace that met my needs. I was traveling a lot for work, but it was difficult to travel with a carry-on and just one or two pairs of heels for all the events that I needed to attend. Furthermore, I couldn’t find comfortable designer heels! I found many women who shared similar problems. I decided to solve that by creating VEERAH, the first and only luxury shoe company that delivers high fashion, high function, and high impact. Our shoes are classic silhouettes that come with removable accessories to create multiple looks. Crafted innovatively, VEERAH’s custom soles are supportive, comfortable, and flexible.
What’s unique about VEERAH shoes?
We make high quality, timeless footwear that also happens to be sustainable and vegan. Each pair of our classic VEERAH shoes come with interchangeable, multi-functional accessories to multiply your look. Buying a pair of VEERAH heels is equivalent to buying multiple pairs of shoes. While buying less, our customers do not need to compromise their style as they can mix and match VEERAH accessories and stay right on trend. We believe less is more!
Furthermore, through continuous and robust testing, our shoes are meticulously crafted for supreme comfort, breathability and style. We utilize high function materials, such as antimicrobial cushion and impact absorbing memory foam, the same type of insoles that are used in high-performing sports brands. Our waterproof TPU outsole has 20% more anti-slip protection and durability than a leather outsole.
We find our early adopters are eco-conscious fashionistas who are looking for a better way to align their closets with their values without sacrificing style or comfort.
What did you know about shoe manufacturing before you launched your shoe brand?
I was naive at first and definitely underestimated the amount of time and work that’s required to build a collection from scratch! I started by going to a shoemaking school in Milan, Italy to learn about the manufacturing process and collection development. I also made a list of people who have experience in this industry to seek guidance and introductions to their network.
In the beginning, I received a lot of pushback. Factories told me that no one in the shoe industry would do this because it requires too much work, investment and time
Is it challenging to manufacture vegan shoes?
It’s a very new concept to produce premium vegan shoes that are luxurious, comfortable, durable AND come with detachable accessories. In the beginning, I received a lot of pushback. Factories told me that no one in the shoe industry would do this because it requires too much work, investment and time. Once I finally found the factory owner who believed in my vision, I also needed to make sure the everyone on the factory floor understood it. It takes over 300 steps to make a pair of VEERAH shoes. Shoemaking is a very manual process and I needed to make sure that everyone involved in the process understood our high-level standards. Therefore, I spend a lot of time in the factory building relationships with the people actually making our shoes.
Because the materials that we use are very unique, innovative and not commonly used in the industry, I do a lot of the sourcing myself. Because our order quantities are small now, we often do not meet the production minimum, which requires us to pay surcharges on the materials that we use. It’s very expensive to make our shoes at the moment. Hopefully as we grow and have a greater scale, our costs will come down.
I base a lot on my gut feelings and customer feedback. Then, I think about the story that I want to communicate to ensure each collection is coherent
What’s the process?
A lot of my creative process is to think about what do modern women want – beauty, comfort and sustainability. I base a lot on my gut feelings and customer feedback. Then, I think about the story that I want to communicate to ensure each collection is coherent. I like to start with a classic silhouette and work on what women really need from there – from cushioning for increased comfort to the removable accessories that add fun and flair to our shoes for virtually every occasion – business networking, cocktails after work, parties, weddings and everything in between. I also work with talented creative freelancers to brainstorm new ideas and then transfer them onto paper to share with my manufacturing partners.
What’s the philanthropic part to your business model?
A big part of our company ethos is giving back. We’re currently partnered with She’s The First, an incredible organization supporting girls’ education. We have also created our “1-10-100” battle plan. This means that we donate at least 1% of our proceeds to social impact causes, 10 hours are paid to our employees per month to volunteer or take self-improvement courses, and for every 100 customer feedback interviews we receive we will support one full year of a girl’s education with She’s the First. We aim to grow together and give back!
What successes have you had with your shoe brand?
Through our partnership with She’s The First, we receive letters from our girl scholar Sunita from Nepal. It’s incredible hearing that she wants to be a doctor when she grows up to help grant better access to healthcare across Nepal. I love her most recent letter to us that reads, “I think people who work hard and honest are beautiful.” I’m glad she’s being educated and building the right mindset.
Additionally, we get letters from brides all over the world (From South Africa and France to China and more) explaining that they have discovered our brand while searching for eco-conscious, impactful shoes for their wedding day. I’m proud to know that VEERAH is their choice of brand for this most meaningful day.
It’s (VEERAH) the perfect name to represent women balancing the yin and yang of strength and femininity while honoring the warrior spirit within all of us
How does your own lifestyle resonate with your shoe brand?
I’ve been a vegetarian for 12 years. As a socially and environmentally conscious woman, I felt that there had to be a way to strike a balance between style and conscience. I didn’t want to sacrifice style for a plant-based lifestyle or hurt any life for the sake of beauty but knew that looking and feeling good wasn’t any less important. The name VEERAH came to me when I was practicing “Virabhadasna”, a warrior pose in yoga, during a wellness retreat. It’s the perfect name to represent women balancing the yin and yang of strength and femininity, while honoring the warrior spirit within all of us.
Photography courtesy of Stacey Chang and VEERAH