Xenia Wong - Cruelty-free Leather Advocate

Xenia Wong - Cruelty-free Leather Advocate

Xenia Wong's vegan handbag brand, O.N.E, offers an ethical and sustainable alternative to animal leather. A Macao-based entrepreneur and former TedX speaker, she has developed a trademarked premium vegan leather made from agricultural waste. As big fans of her luxury bag collection (you can find O.N.E. products at our stores!), we were thrilled to learn more about Xenia's story, from O.N.E.'s brand evolution to developing their own trademarked bio-based leather, as well as her take on the vegan design scene.

Xenia looks effortlessly chic pairing our Slimline Shirt with High-waisted Linen Pant.

Hey Xenia! Tell us a bit about you and your background?

I’m from Macau and I used to handcraft leather goods. I started my first shop, En Masse, in 2013 as a cozy place to sell my own goods, alongside other curated lifestyle products from around the world. In 2015, I decided to take it up a notch and launched my brand, O.N.E., focusing on high-quality minimalist leather accessories.


How did you then evolve your business?

O.N.E. started as a designer leather goods brand, but in 2019, I went vegan, and it totally changed my worldview. So, I also shifted the brand to being 100% vegan and cruelty-free in order to align with my personal values. And in fact, where before we were just another genuine leather bag company, now we are unique. 
Ever since then, everything I do at O.N.E is with the intention to be part of a changing force in society – where compassion extends to animals of all kinds.


We love that you developed your own YUMI™ vegan leather – could you share about this process?

Initially, we used a vegan leather made of recycled polyester. I wanted to improve upon that and started testing some bio-based leathers, such as materials derived from apples, cactus and even pineapples! However they didn't have the quality or texture I wanted, and they were mostly only about 20-30% bio-based.
So I searched for a vegan leather supplier who was willing to work with me to create a new formula that would be 50% bio-based, upcycled from industrial corn waste. After months of development, we finally landed on our current trademarked YUMI product, which is even smoother than our previous vegan leather (YUMI is named after corn in Chinese "玉米"). 
It feels great to have worked from the source, and truly understand the inner workings of vegan leather production.


Xenia is wearing Tencel-Cotton Slimline Shirt with the striking High-waisted Linen Pant in Black.

Do you have any advice to share about pivoting in your personal or professional life?

Life's full of twists and turns, right? Going vegan was a big change for me, and then it influenced my brand. I’ve always had a soft spot for animals, I think it was something I was born with, but sometimes life can make you forget about it. Going vegan helped me reconnect with that love.
If I had to give some advice, I’d say be true to yourself and don't be afraid to follow your heart, especially when it comes to making big decisions. Looking back, the difficulty in the pivot was well worth it, because I feel like everything I do is contributing to a larger purpose that’s beyond me.


Do you feel most of your customers support your cause, and what do you think about the future of vegan design products?

I feel lucky because most of our customers really get what we're about. Some customers are first drawn to our style, but over time have also learnt to appreciate our brand philosophy, which is awesome. It makes me feel optimistic about vegan design products.
People are generally getting more into sustainable and cruelty-free living, which is great. In the near term, I see vegan products continuing to grow across different categories. I wouldn’t be surprised if vegan products became the default product nature in the long-term!


How do you feel the Macau design scene is distinctive from Hong Kong?

Macau's design scene is pretty unique because we've got a mix of Portuguese and Chinese, old and new influences. It's like walking through a blend of different worlds, which is super inspiring for my designs. I love adding bits of our cultural heritage into my work to make everything more interesting. Our En Masse store is my little treasure trove in Macau – we’re all about quality and simplicity, with a collection of independent designer brands featuring small accessories to trendy lifestyle items.


Stay tuned for more interviews from our Tove & Libra community! Looking for sustainable fashion in Hong Kong or Singapore? We ship locally or worldwide.

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