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Veganuary: Meet our Vegan Vendors!

Urban Events is pleased to publish the first edition of the NI Business Spotlight, featuring interviews with two of our regular vendors who proudly promote Vegan products.

Plumpy Balms : Valerie Brown

Plumpy Balms is a Northern Ireland based brand specialising in natural and vegan skincare and cosmetics with some of the most popular products being lip butters, balms and tints.

When did you start up your artisan business?

I set up Plumpy Balms in November 2017. An opportunity came up to attend a Christmas market and I thought why not. It was super scary and a mad dash to get organised but it went brilliantly! That was the start of Plumpy Balms.

What inspired the concept for your business?

Lots of things inspired me to set up Plumpy Balms. I had been self employed for years as a business mentor for other businesses and I always knew I wanted to have my own products and brand I guess. I went to Ghana in 2013 and loved the natural shea and cocoa butters. I came back and spent almost 4 years experimenting with making balms, skincare products you name it! I always loved lip balms and lip tints and so this is what I decided to focus on. I also wanted to make products which were vegan alternatives to most of the lip balms in the market and made with really good quality natural ingredients that actually helped to protect, moisturise and repair dry lips and didn't cost the earth.

What was your business mission at the outset? Does this compare to where you are now?

My business mission is still the same to make really good quality natural vegan beauty products that are affordable. I will only make products that excite me, that I actually use and its great to get so much lovely feedback from customers who feel as excited as me about Plumpy.

Why do you feel it is important to promote and sell a vegan product?

I think some vegan beauty products can be quite expensive and so I really wanted to make vegan products that had a luxury feel without the high price tag. I also wanted Plumpy to bring a bit of feel good into

customer's lives. A little bit of cheer I guess

What do you enjoy most about your business and trading at Urban Market events?

I absolutely love the creative process of making Plumpy Balms. When I am experimenting with a new product or flavour and I finally land on something really good. Then I can't wait to bring it to life and to customers. I am working on a few ideas right now and loving it!

Being part of Urban Markets is absolutely brilliant for so many reasons. For a start I love the UM team, everyone is so friendly and helpful and this really does create a lovely vibe at every market. The markets have a great variety of local artisan stalls and I have made some fab friends with other regular traders. The markets are so well attended with visitors genuinely interested in supporting local. I'm looking forward to my first one of 2021!


Truffleupagus Vegan Yums : Sheena Bleakney

Truffleupagus Vegan Yums is a Northern Ireland based vegan catering company specialising in innovative recipes for all things vegan and aiding in the ever growing popularity of delicious plant-based foods.

When did you start up your artisan business?

Truffleupagus Vegan Yums was set up in 2013. Originally just making handmade chocolates and truffles, each year I have grown and expanded to include more options. From sweet to savoury, and from individual orders to huge wedding catering.

What inspired the concept for your business?

A trip to palm springs where I bought vegan chocolate for $1.50 and was massively disappointed. I thought I can make much better than that. When i was 17 I was one of the founder members of The Belfast Youth and community group and we opened Belfast's first vegetarian/vegan cafe as a result of the lack of space for young Catholics and Protestants to socialise at that time we had dark rooms, practise space for bands and a cafe to mix and get great value food. We all volunteered and I ran the cafe 3 days a week. I loved it. This is a link to a film about it:

What was your business mission at the outset? Does this compare to where you are now?

My business mission has never changed. To provide great tasting vegan food, with all the trimmings. I believe very strongly in ethical veganism, and that no animal needs to suffer, or die, for a taste preference, and at Truffleupagus vegan yums it's possible to get great tasting and catering to match that ethos. As I have developed over the years I have also become more mindful of the kinds of packaging I use and also the importance of

buying locally source ingredients, where possible.

Why do you think it is important to promote and sell a vegan product?

I think veganism is extremely important for many reasons. We know a whole food plant-based diet provides the best nutrition available, that the environmental impact, on land, water use and greenhouse gas emissions are vastly reduced and the most important aspect for me, is, as an animal lover, that no animals suffer needlessly. So rather than viewing veganism as a fad, it's vital in 2021 and beyond, to view it as a potential lifesaver for the animals, ourselves and the planet. Truffleupagus allows you to have some fun with your food and enjoy hearty comfort food.

What do you enjoy most about your business and trading at Urban Market events?

I have loved being part of Urban market. They came along at a very pivotal time for me, as the catering had been a part-time business, I had been teaching drama for 22 years and during covid-19 I lost all of that and cooking became my comfort again. I won a place on a business course that inspired and motivated me to make a full time go of the catering and along came Urban market. The whole process from contact with Thomas, to the whole setup of markets, is seamless. The support is always there and Urban Market has provided a lifeline for new, and existing business to become noticed. The stallholders have fantastic camaraderie and the locations are fantastic. Also, the Urban market seems to magic thousands of customers from thin air and they are so well attended. I can't wait to continue in 2021 with my Urban family.

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