April 18 Questions: Leanne Mai-Ly Hilgart

by Leesa Raab

Each month we will ask a new eco-maven 18 questions about his or her life, occupation and advice for other like-minded people. This month we were able to sit down with Leanne Mai-ly Hilgart, the designer behind vegan fashion line, VAUTE Couture–we recently covered her A/W ’13 runway show.

1. What is your name (and age)?

Leanne Mai-ly Hilgart, thirty, flirty, and thriving

2. What is your occupation?

I am the President & creative director of Vaute Couture.

3. Do you have a “green” memory growing up?

In grade school I was obsessed with recycling & learning all the symbols, in high school I organized recycling programs there and at the after school programs I was a part of.

4. What’s your favorite meal?

I love eating so this totally depends on my mood. I’d say the Squash dinner with cauliflower & mashed potatoes with strawberry shortcake, at Peacefood Cafe in NYC, which just opened a new location closer to me in Union Square! Their strawberry shortcake is the perfect mix between savory and sweet. The squash dinner is like thanksgiving but feels so good for you too.

5. Who/What inspires you to be more “green” in your life?

I focus on interacting with the world in a way that I choose, instead of allowing industries or corporations choose how I impact the world as a silent participant of their profit driven structures. Nothing inspires me more than a strong sense of connection to the Earth and the world. I am responsible for treating well everything and everyone I come into contact with, just as a basic tenant of living. Good things are good inherently, as actions in themselves, as well as to those affected, and to myself, it’s really all the same anyway. I am constantly inspired–by the breeze, a song, a stranger, to choose to do good however I can.

6. Where on the “green scale” do you fall?

I don’t really understand this question, I honestly don’t think of myself int terms like that… I focus on being good to everyone–the earth, the animals, and people, in every aspect of my life.

7. What are the most rewarding and most challenging parts of your job?

The most rewarding thing is using every bit of me to do what I can for the world, and specifically for pushing the fashion industry forward for the animals. The most challenging is getting over my fears and limitations in my mind.

8. Where’s your “greenspot”: food, bodycare/beauty, oceans, home or neighborhood, explain.

Fashion. Vaute is the pioneer in developing the future of fashion–high ethics (to the earth, animals, and people), performance and style at once.

9. Where do you turn for your news?

The news is everywhere. It’s hard to not see it. I do love the Business of Fashion, and of course, my friends let me know what’s happening in social justice issues around the world.

10. What is one environmental change you vow to make in the next year?

Walking to work and back every day (well, I just took the subway before so I guess that doesn’t count!) To carry a reusable glass bottle with me so that I can never have an excuse to use a disposable cup again.

11. If you could trade places with one person from any time in history (past or present) for one day—who would it be and why?

I would love one day as Audrey Hepburn in 1951 while she was filming Roman Holiday, or Anita Roddick, while she was starting the Body Shop. I’d love to just hear their thoughts throughout their day, how they spoke to themselves, so I could keep their voice with me forever, especially when things are rough.

12. You have a meeting with the leader of every country in the world. You have 30 seconds to tell them anything you want. Go!

Stop wasting your energy fighting. Start growing your energy working together.

13. You have the chance to send one tweet to all the tweeps in the world. Let’s hear it in 140 characters, or less!

You are lucky. Whether you really are or not, it serves no one to complain, it serves everyone to make the most of what you have, to seek out every day what makes you lucky.

14. If there was one industry/product that you could make more eco-friendly, what would it be?

Anti- perspirant–a vegan, cruelty free, eco conscious one that actually works and smells amazing would be awesome.

15. Where in the world would you most like to be right now?

The hot springs in Japan sound pretty great right now. Or a karaoke room with friends and lots of vegan pizza. Or this is pretty great too–working in a coffee shop a block from my street, I just wish I got more sleep last night. 🙂

16. What is the best book you have read recently?

I recently reread Business As Unusual by Anita Roddick. It’s amazing.

17. What makes you cringe?

Victimization & entitlement. When people act like they can’t help themselves and the world is against them. It makes me pretty upset, because its’ a lose lose situation… no matter what they’re given, it will always look like it’s not good enough.

18. What do you want your legacy to be?

To empower others to care again. Let’s conquer empathy by awakening that fire inside that loves to connect with the world, and know that every choice, every thing we do has the potential to create good, and fun, darn it. Lots and lots of fun. Oh, and to know we are all freaks and to fully embrace exactly that, because the world needs exactly who you are- what you’ve experienced, what you’ve learned, who you love.



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