Nadine Rich, founder of Cruelty Free Models, with her rescue dog.
Vegan fashion has indeed come a long way, and we can’t help but appreciate the increasing number of valuable supporters and patrons of the industry we’re proud to be in. Enter Cruelty Free Models, a platform for connecting and representing fashion industry professionals who inspire cruelty-free and eco-conscious living. With a mission to encourage “positive change for animals and the environment,” we know they’re well on their way to further success. Ahead, meet Cruelty Free Models founder, Nadine Rich, and learn more about the brand she has passionately built.
You started your brand over ten years ago. Before rebranding it to what we now know as Cruelty Free Models, it was called "Models Supporting Animals". How do you think your journey has evolved and what prompted this shift?
The evolution actually started out of necessity. When my family and I moved overseas, I was no longer able to participate in physical photoshoots with my models and it made me rethink how I wanted to proceed. I knew by really concentrating my efforts on the website I could reach more people and make a bigger impact. I also knew by making the directory at the forefront, I could bring eco-friendly professionals together and serve ethical brands at the same time.
NADINE POSING NEAR HER HOME IN BEAUTIFUL COSTA RICA.
BEING AN ANIMAL LOVER ENCOURAGED THIS PASSIONISTA TO START HER BRAND.
What inspired you to create Cruelty Free Models?
I've always been an animal lover. I've always volunteered and worked with animals since I was old enough to work. I even owned my own pet spa for almost 15 years. I also did freelance modeling on the side and dabbled in fashion photography, as well. It was a lot! I felt so spread thin, especially while juggling three kids, one day I thought, "how can I bring all my passions together," and Cruelty Free Models (originally, Models Supporting Animals) was born. I held an open call for models and the rest is history!
What are your dreams for your brand?
To have a successful directory site that small and large ethical brands seek out as a reliable and professional resource for finding eco-friendly models and industry creatives. I also look forward to seeing listing members collaborating together, producing eco-conscious campaigns that set the bar for the industry, and working on impactful awareness campaigns that directly impact animals and the environment. Go big or go home, right?!
As a business owner, Nadine finds balance by connecting with nature, while still looking chic in this emerald green hair wrap!
How do you keep yourself motivated in running a business amidst the pandemic?
If anything, the pandemic has motivated me to go gung-ho with this business model. I think it has for a lot of people— opened their eyes to the advantages of working from home. I do, however, have to check out, go outside, and just indulge in nature at times, which isn't hard when you live at the base of a Costa Rican volcano. Also, my one and three-year-old keep me on my toes!
How do you live a cruelty-free life? Can you share tips for those who are just starting out with this kind of lifestyle?
I used to try to be ALL things eco-friendly: zero-waste, vegan, plastic-free, cruelty-free, sustainable. It was overwhelming and I was failing. I was literally drowning in guilt about everything! I finally let go, gave myself some wiggle room, and committed to a few things I could handle—cruelty-free beauty, vegan and second-hand fashion, and a vegetarian diet. I still do the other things when I can but without the pressure, it's all about balance and growth. With that being said, my main tip to anyone starting an eco-friendly lifestyle is to commit to one to three actions you can handle and go from there because eco-guilt is real! For a cruelty-free life, write a list of all your beauty and household products and commit to switching at least one every month until everything is switched with cruelty-free products that work for you.
Committing to a few achievable goals makes sustainable living more manageable. start small and dont give up!
What does sustainable fashion mean to you? How do you think this will affect consumerism?
For me, sustainable fashion means purchasing items that you really put thought into, that you see yourself wearing 3, 5 or even 7 years down the line. It means actually taking care of the clothing that you do have (thanks, mom!), and paying attention to where, how, and with what materials your clothing is made. I think these considerations can affect many concerns from animal welfare to forced labor to climate change. I really love the Good on You directory, and looking forward to them adding many, many more brands!
Name your top five cruelty-free fashion and beauty brands.
80% of my wardrobe is second-hand but I do love Mud Jeans, Nanushka, Doshi, and VEERAH, of course! My go-to cruelty-free beauty brands are Milani, Beauty Creations, L.A. Girl, Zinc It Over, and Costa Skincare. As a mom of five, I stick to budget-friendly brands that last!
A SNAPSHOT FROM NADINE'S EARLIER MODELING DAYS.
Who are your inspirations or life pegs?
My inspirations are people who are working behind the scenes and changing the world with little or no recognition. They are a large part of why I started Cruelty Free Models.
What are you most looking forward to this year? Any exciting projects or goals that you can share with us?
Yes! I am looking forward to growing the Cruelty Free Models Youtube channel and my husband and I are in the middle of building a dedicated studio. I also have some high-profile interviews in the works that I am excited about and I'm also looking forward to partnering with more agencies to add their eco models and creatives to Cruelty Free Models.
We hope Nadine’s story inspired you as much as she inspired us. Thanks to Nadine, industry professionals and followers of her brand have an amazing resource and community to make fashion a more compassionate and sustainable industry for animals and people alike! Follow her on social at @nadinerichofficial and @crueltyfreemodels. Learn more about Cruelty Free Models on their website and Youtube channel.