Long Island sister duo launches eco-friendly ‘e-boutique’

Jill (left) and Tracey Spiritus (right) with their display at the Vegan Shop Up in Brooklyn, N.Y., in fall 2011 (Photo courtesy of Compassion Couture)

It’s not easy being green.

At least that’s how sisters Jill and Tracey Spiritus felt when looking for accessories that fit with their green lifestyle. The sister duo started Compassion Couture, a self-funded e-boutique, after having trouble finding vegan-friendly shoes and accessories.

“The idea behind the e-boutique was born out of a frustration of having a difficult time finding accessories that were both cruelty-free and fashion forward,” Tracey said.  “When I went vegan about four years ago, I had a hard time finding accessories that were in line with my values and my sense of style.”

Compassion Couture operates out of East Meadow. The business does not yet have a storefront, it is strictly an online retailer,  though the two owners say they hope to be able to open an actual store at some point.

The e-boutique sells vegan-friendly women’s shoes, handbags, hats and scarves.  The sisters are selective about the items they choose to carry, and they only sell products they truly love.

“We only carry items that we would personally wear,” Jill said. “We go to showrooms in the [New York] city and look at the products, and we can basically test them out before we buy them.”

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The products: Put to the test

Each item is handpicked for the site and is concurrent with the latest fashions and trends. Jill and Tracey also have certain criteria that each product must pass before they choose to sell it on Compassion Couture.

“We only buy items that are 100 percent free of animal products and from brands that are conscious of their impact on the environment and incorporate socially responsible practices into their manufacturing,” Tracey said.

Compassion Couture carries a number of well-known brands such as MATT & NAT and olsenHaus—both of which are featured in many high-end department stores.

Many leather-like materials are often noted as looking “cheap,” or of poor quality, but the sisters look to challenge that belief. All of the items in their e-boutique are both eco-friendly and have great craftsmanship.

The customers: Embracing the green movement

Long Islanders have been moving toward a greener lifestyle, with an increasing number of towns enforcing recycling programs and a few vegan-friendly, organic cafés popping up throughout the island.

Jill and Tracey said they believe their e-boutique fits nicely with the green lifestyle that so many local residents have embraced.

“I think more and more Long Islanders are looking for ways and places to shop that are in line with these values,” Tracey said. “I’m glad that the message is out there, and Long Islanders are definitely working on it!”

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The office: Green all around

Jill and Tracey ensure that all their brands use organic and high-quality materials such as recycled plastic bottles, organic cottons and bamboos in production.

“They [the materials] definitely match great with anything you can buy in a [high end] store,” Jill said.

Not only is the merchandise 100 percent green, but the company’s practices are as well.

“All of the materials we print out, we make sure they are printed on recycled paper with soy ink,” Jill said. “We try to reuse boxes as much as possible.”

The future: Room to grow

With plenty of emerging eco-friendly brands and more people looking to “go green” across Long Island, the Spiritus sisters said they believe the future looks promising.

“With the way the eco-movement and the focus on reducing animal cruelty is growing, I see us expanding our brand selection considerably,” Tracey said. “Hopefully by five years from now, we’ll have opened up that brick and mortar store we are dreaming of!”

Jill and Tracey said they hope to also carry women’s clothing in the e-boutique and perhaps one day in their shop.

“This is a growing market, and we keep finding new designers to add to our site,” said Jill.

Visit Compassion Couture’s website to learn more about its ethical mission or view their products.