Merry Cause-mas: Ethique Nouveau sources vegan gifts

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As the holiday season rolls around once again, it can only mean one thing: PRESENTS! Oh, and family, friends, caring, sharing, love, harmony, peace on Earth and good will toward men, yada, yada, yada … Did we mention presents?

What if you could have it all—combine super awesome gifts anyone would be thrilled to open with more warm holiday fuzzies than you can shake a stick at? At Ethique Nouveau, you can. That’s because this stylish storefront in south Minneapolis stocks a crush-worthy assortment of gifts, clothing, accessories, housewares, bath and body products, sweets and treats—all of which were produced without harming a single hair (or scale) on a single precious animal’s skin. Plus, all purchases at Ethique Nouveau help fund the advocacy group Animal Rights Coalition (ARC). Feeling warm and fuzzy yet?

We spoke to Dallas Rising, the woman behind ARC and Ethique Nouveau, about animal rights, her chic shop and gifts that’ll make ’em ooh and aww this year:

Sidewalk Dog: What is the Animal Rights Coalition?

Left: Dallas Rising (and furry pal) of Animal Rights Coalition and Ethique Nouveau.

Dallas Rising: The Animal Rights Coalition is a grassroots nonprofit animal advocacy organization based in Minneapolis. Our mission is to end the suffering, exploitation, and abuse of animals through advocacy, education, and intervention.

SD: How did Ethique Nouveau come to be?

DR: We [ARC] had outgrown our old office space and knew we wanted to have more visibility, so we thought a storefront space would be great. We also liked the idea of helping to make vegan and ethical shopping accessible and easy for people. The products we carry prove you don’t have to give up fashion to shop with compassion. [Editor’s Note: We officially have a rhyme-crush on Ms. Rising. Someone commit that to needlepoint, stat!] We needed to have a space to operate from, so why not run the nonprofit and the shop from the same space? We thought it would be worth a shot and we’re happy we took the chance.

SD: Tell us about the guiding principals behind Ethique Nouveau.

DR: Our store is 100-percent vegan, which means that all of our products are animal-friendly. Nothing is made with animal parts or things that come from animals and nothing is tested on animals. In addition, we’re a local business, owned by a nonprofit, and we carry a lot of organic, fair trade, up-cycled or reclaimed items. We try to put an exponent on the good a person can do with just one purchase.

SD: How has the store been received by the community?

DR: When people discover us, they’re usually thrilled and charmed. We don’t spend money on advertising because we funnel all of the money we can into the animal advocacy programs we run, so we depend heavily on word of mouth and shout-outs from awesome publications like Sidewalk Dog!

SD: How are products sourced for the store?

DR: We scour the web, trade shows and local art fairs, and take suggestions from our customers. Every product is investigated to be certain it’s vegan.

SD: What draws your eye to an item and makes you want to carry it?

DR: If we love it, we hope others will, too. We also try to make sure that the items we carry are affordable because ethical shopping shouldn’t be something only for the elite.

SD: What items are big for animals (and their people) this holiday season?

Right: Know a cat? Bet it’d love to get its paws on Shelby, the organic catnip toy.

DR: Shelby, the organic hemp catnip mouse toy, is a favorite among our feline product testers. Shelby is durable and made from sustainably sourced, biodegradable materials. Catnip pellets are a great way to give kitty a boost of fun without having to get out the vacuum half an hour later, too. Our canine clientele love the soft peanut butter treats and send their parents back for more when their stocks run low. Pooches prone to panic during storms or other upsetting episodes appreciate our canine lullaby CDs. These heartbeat sound therapy tracks help calm anxious pups completely naturally without any drugs, which dog moms and dads can feel good about, too.

SD: Anything else you’d like to add?

DR: We are on the front lines of the fight to help animals, but we can’t do it without support. It would mean a lot to us, and the animals, if people came down to the shop and supported us. We have really great stuff: non-leather purses, shoes, belts, and wallets. And we have jewelry, soaps, books, vegan treats, candles, and tons of fun gift items. Also, if anyone is interested in veganism, our shop is a great place to stop in and ask questions. And if anyone wants to volunteer with ARC, they can email me at dallas@animalrightscoalition.com.