Interview with Website of the Month winner TheVeganKind - Heart Internet Blog - Focusing on all aspects of the web

January’s Website of the Month winner was TheVeganKind, a fantastic monthly box subscription service for vegans. We caught up with Managing Director of TheVeganKind, Karris McCulloch, and the website’s developer, Iain Fergus of Dark Flare Design, to talk about the site’s success, the importance of social media, how to approach selling online and more.

Tell us a bit about yourself and your business.

Karris McCulloch, Managing Director of TheVeganKind

As a lifelong advocate of animal rights, making the transition to being vegan was a natural path for me. I found that I struggled, initially, as it can be an overwhelming experience, with so many different things to consider. Food shopping was hard and I found myself constantly reading labels with no real idea of the best way to find vegan brands, and I decided that I wanted to start a monthly subscription service for vegans in the UK that offered a way to discover vegan products from food, to household and personal care at a reasonable price. We have had a fantastic first few months of business and the highlight for me so far is the kind words I have had from vegetarians just like I was who have found our box and felt inspired to be vegan.

The contents of your boxes are a surprise each month. What made you choose this approach over specifying the items each time?

We loved the idea of having a surprise box of goodies every month – it just adds to the whole experience. So many of our customers have told us that it feels like Christmas every time they open up a new box!

Your website was designed by Dark Flare Design; why did you choose them to create your website and what was it like working together?

We came across a website designed by Dark Flare Design and fell in love with it, so we contacted them and were delighted to find out they were locally based. The whole process end to end has been seamless, and we couldn’t have wished for a better working relationship with our web developer!

How was the design for the website arrived at and how was it achieved?

We provided DFD with around 4 or 5 example sites that we liked the layout and functionality of. We then had several calls to determine our requirements and to discuss what payment systems etc we would be using. DFD then put a design together using the colour schemes we had agreed on, and sent us some mock-ups of the main pages for us to look over and give the go-ahead.

What advice would you give to someone using a web designer for the first time?

We would suggest that they spend plenty of time researching other sites, and deciding on functionalities and layouts that they think they do, or do not like. This then allows the web developer a far better chance of getting the design right, first time.

You provide content across Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Pinterest. How do you view social media and what benefits does it have for your site?

Social media is absolutely 100% essential for what we do. We try our best to interact with our customers every day. Social media is what allows us to grow our customer base to a level whereby we feel we then want to explore other, more formal marketing avenues.

Your boxes go well beyond vegan food to include cruelty-free beauty products, eco-friendly household products and more. Why did you want to have this diversity of items in your boxes?

Being vegan isn’t just about diet, it’s an entire lifestyle choice and encompasses everything you do including the clothes you wear and the make up you put on your face – to me, limiting it to just food choices missed out a huge part of what veganism is, and I wanted to include everything our customers need to live an entirely vegan life.

What advice would you give to someone who is about to add an online shop to their website?

Research is key. Thankfully we knew quite a bit about this area, as one of the directors has expertise in this field, however, for anyone starting out, you need to make sure you do your research and get your services at a suitable price. Assistance from your web developer will always be invaluable as well, as they help customers around this issue day in and day out.

Why did you choose to host your website with Heart Internet?

Iain Fergus, Owner of Dark Flare Design

After trying out a few different hosting companies I switched to Heart Internet in 2010 for three reasons; flexibility, reliability and support.

Heart allows me to set up hosting accounts quickly, and to the specification I need to suit my client’s websites. The server uptime has been great and any problems I’ve encountered have been dealt with promptly via the support ticket system, seemingly regardless of the time of day.

How would you like to see your business develop in the future?

Karris McCulloch, Managing Director of TheVeganKind

We have lots of exciting plans for TheVeganKind including developing our online shop. We hope to hold stock of the items we include in our boxes, and in the very far future would love to have our own brand of vegan products!

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