Interview With The Founders Of The Legendary Vevolution Festival

Vevolution Festival 2018

Vevolution Festival 2018

“Our ambitions have grown strong taking the festival from a warehouse in East London to one of London’s most iconic venues on the Southbank in the heart of London.”

Vevolution Festival is just a couple of months away, can you believe it?! The team are trying to line up as much brilliant content for you all to get you excited up until the big day! And today, I present to you an interview with Damien and Judy - the power couple that created Vevolution. Enjoy!

How has Vevolution Festival evolved over the years?

Damien - Vevolution is now a global movement passionate about plant-powered living and affecting positive change in the world. When we started Vevolution, creating a global change movement was just a dream. Originally it was just a bunch of friends who wanted to come together to talk about the emergence of veganism, and the role we could play in helping people eat more plants and do good things in the world. 

These days people travel from all over the world to be a part of what we are doing. We have one speaker this year, Nour Livia, who is travelling from Portugal by train to join us, and we have speakers travelling from LA to be a part of Vevolution Festival 2019.

Judy - When we launched this year’s festival a couple of weeks ago me and Damien actually watched our first ever festival trailer in 2016 and then quickly fell down the YouTube rabbit hole of watching back through all our previous event highlight videos. It was so heartwarming and quite emotional to look back at where we started and realise how far we have come. It can sometimes be difficult to see how much a company has evolved when you are so in it and doing the everyday work load. But wow, once we stepped back and took some time to reflect it was an incredible feeling to realise how much we have achieved. 

Our mission and heart of the festival and what we do is very much the same - to inspire and empower people to be part of the positive change. But our ambitions have grown strong taking the festival from a warehouse in East London to one of London’s most iconic venues on the Southbank in the heart of London. I also feel that our community has become more collaborative with one of the highlights people look forward to is meeting like-minded people to create something new or to partner to accelerate what they are already doing. We have naturally attracted a very creative and entrepreneurial tribe where people see a problem and want to fix it - that is one of my favourite things about our movement. 

Damien & Judy got married earlier this year!

Damien & Judy got married earlier this year!

Who are you most excited to see this year at the Festival?

Damien - We are excited about seeing everyone as we curate the festival it is a collection of people we think are playing parts in driving forward positive change in the world. 

We are both very excited to see our friend Janette Fernadez  Eat Drink Vegan and Taryan Rason. Eat Drink Vegan are festival partners hosting a stage but Janette has been crucial in building community in LA and she has such an infectious energy and Taryn has been building community through her co-working space BizBabes out on Los Angeles, so it is always great to get together and share ideas on how we can foster community and accelerate change.

“I am also excited that we have our new Positive Futures stage which is being hosted by the fabulous Claira Hermet making that 3 stages this year.”

Judy - Ooh this is a tough question - I am genuinely excited to hear and see everything and everyone! After spending so many months behind a screen working on spreadsheets and event logistics there is nothing more rewarding than seeing everything (hopefully!) fall into place - with inspiring talks and panels, engaging workshops, the exciting sampling in the brand zone, the delicious food and all the happy smiling faces. 

Something I still get excited about is someone new attending our event who isn’t vegan or plant based or at least not 100% and hearing their response how they loved the conversations and feel part of the community - that means we are doing something right! 

Like Damien said I am also really excited to see our LA friends Eat Drink Vegan. I am also excited that we have our new Positive Futures stage which is being hosted by the fabulous Claira Hermet making that 3 stages this year.

The Vevolution Team has grown from 2 to 4 since the last festival!

The Vevolution Team has grown from 2 to 4 since the last festival!

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What is the toughest part about running such a large scale event like Vevolution Festival?

Damien - The sheer scale of the event. We are looking after 1000 attendees, programming over 50 creators, managing brand partners, catering and production. 

We are still a very small company with just 2 full time staff and 2 people part time staff. We really on the help of casual staff and superstar volunteers many of whom have been with us for years to make the whole thing possible. 

Vevolution is really our baby so we care deeply that everyone attending has a special experience so all the team are running around trying to ensure everyone who attends is having a special time. 

There are challenges making education focused events work financially especially as we choose to do our festivals in high quality educational spaces. 

We’ve been lucky that so many people believe in the movement we are building and have supported us in a multitude of ways to get Vevolution to where it is today.

“We truly believe in providing a platform for innovators and creators to share their stories to inspire and empower people to create a better world.”

Judy - I have actually already started my event dreams - this always happens in the leadup to the event where I dream of all the things that could go wrong! It is a huge responsibility to ensure there is a safe but fun environment for the attendees, speakers and staff. Planning is absolute key but with events there will most likely always be one thing that either goes wrong or that is out of your control but it is absolutely crucial that as a team we work together to resolve whatever issue has happened as quick as possible. 

Like Damien said, Vevolution is our baby so we always try and ensure that whatever we do is done to its highest standard. This can come with challenges, when as a small startup our budgets are not huge and doing events in London can be crazy expensive. We truly believe in providing a platform for innovators and creators to share their stories to inspire and empower people to create a better world. We have seen how our events and multimedia content have helped inspire people to create a new business, or instead of putting whey into their protein bars they decided to go with pea protein instead - so all the struggles and challenges we may face always seem worth it when the event or project comes to fruition.

Vevolution Festival 2016

Vevolution Festival 2016

“Every week we receive emails and social media messages from people Vevolution has inspired in some way.”

Who is your dream speaker for Vevolution Festival?

Damien - I would love for Ethan Brown, CEO of Beyond Meat, to join us in the future. The beauty of what they have done is that they have put taste first. This is a product that non-vegans love, as well as vegan, and is rapidly changing people's perceptions of what a plant-based burger can taste like.

Judy - For the past few years I have been trying to get Grace Beverley (AKA Grace FIT UK) as I am seriously impressed with all that she is achieving and creating. I am also a massive fan of Carol J Adams and Melanie Joy and have spoken to them both on email about coming to our festival so hopefully one day this will happen. I would also love JME to be involved but he is the hardest person to get hold of so if you are reading this, please email me (judy@vevolution.co) :-) haha.

What are your hopes and plans for the festival in the future?

Damien - Every week we receive emails and social media messages from people Vevolution has inspired in some way. This is our job satisfaction, we see Vevolution continuing to grow and add more value to people concerned with creating positive change in the world.
Being at the heart of the plant-powered movement as it has exploded has been an incredibly exciting place to be and we are excited to continue our work helping to inspire and support people in creating change.

Judy - I mean a big dream I have for the festival is to take it on tour around the world but for us to do this we would need to have a funder or someone supporting us financially to make this happen. As I said earlier, running this event is VERY expensive. We are always getting emails from people around the world asking us when we are coming to their country. One of the main reasons we record all the talks for our podcast and YouTube channel is that we know that people outside of London want to hear what is being discussed and be involved in the conversation. It has always been important for us to keep these thoughts and ideas alive beyond the event and reach more people outside the walls of the venue.

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What do you think is next for the plant-powered movement?

Damien - Plant-based food is moving from the margins to be becoming something that is ubiquitous with great taste and healthy living.

Plant based is now well and truly in the mainstream, and as a result it is going to be under scrutiny from those people who would rather it didn’t become the global diet of choice. We need to be resilient and confident about ourselves as a movement and if we are it will only continue to grow and thrive.

There has never been a better time and a more exciting time to be involved in this movement for positive change.

“This is why we are so passionate about helping nurture and support these early stage startups so they have a fighting chance to get their business up and running.”

Judy - The only way is up! I am just so proud to be part of the plant-powered movement and to have witnessed the amazing growth. Because veganism has popped and gone mainstream people are seeing it is a big business. It is great that the big brands are creating more options making it even more accessible for people to try or be vegan but one thing we are noticing is that it is a hard place to be as a new plant based business. This is why we are so passionate about helping nurture and support these early stage startups so they have a fighting chance to get their business up and running. Support ethical businesses y’all!


JOIN THE PLANT POWERED MOVEMENT

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At Vevolution HQ we have been hard at work programming what we think is our most exciting line-up to date, we launched a brand new stage for this year, called ‘The Positive Futures’ and partnered with our friends at Eat Drink Vegan to showcase the USA’s brightest plant-powered innovators.